English football means sweet FA

The Football Association

The Football Association Limited

The proposal to play a competitive round of Barclays Premier League matches abroad is ridiculous.  Not only is it ridiculous it is arrogant.  What makes English football so good that it has the right to upset domestic leagues around the world?  Nothing!  As a commercial product English football, its peak known as the EPL is exciting and widely marketable but that alone is not enough to embark on world domination.

It would be hard to argue that Arsenal playing Manchester United in Tokyo wouldn’t be a sell-out.  However, Bolton Wanderers against Portsmouth or Wigan Athletic taking-on Derby County would hardly be worth the price of admission, right?

The EPL has admittedly grown worldly popular, its weekly highlights show is great value for an hours viewing.  Similarly, the prospect of a live match between Liverpool and Manchester United is mouth watering but its beauty is held at home, in “The Kop” at Anfield, not in a foreign stadium with manufactured supporters.

This is clearly just a money-making exercise!  Commercialisation in sport, especially football, is heading toward the point of no return.  It’s these billionaire owners with big ambitions who are part of the problem.  They are playing capitalist games with the sport we love like a mother or father.  They should be ashamed, they have no right!

Football is of the people and for the people.  How cruel to take away competitive matches from your loyal home fans and dish it up to a crowd halfway around the world.  It might sound obvious, but isn’t a domestic competition meant to be played domestically?

These days, football is taking a back seat to the business side of the game.  Some say the game is just another product that needs to be promoted and sold to generate an income.  I believe English football is on a path toward self-destruction, why?

Foreign ownership is the latest fad, Clubs are buying foreign players and failing to produce home-grown talent, the so-called “Big Four”, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United, are looking toward Asia and the US for sponsorship and support, and the multi-million dollar global media rights are just promoting a “win at all costs” mentality for EPL survival, failing the league in its core developmental duties.  Surely sport isn’t supposed to be this artificial.

Another point to consider is the effect it has on our youth, who are extremely impressionable and easily influenced.  As an Australian, I certainly don’t want to see our kids and future stars thinking that the way Bolton play in the EPL is the way you play football.

It is counter-productive to the development of our national philosophy and a danger to our new-fangled A-League.  Everything this country is trying to achieve philosophically is a revolution, we don’t want to go back to Imperial rule, so let’s not promote that way of thinking by bringing it to our shores.  We value it, only in its place: England.

This so-called “39th round” may never see fruition.  FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, has said that the Executive Committee will never sanction such a move and was bemused by the idea.  UEFA President, Michel Platini, called it a “nonsense idea.”  Platini, undoubtedly the most famous footballer in France’s history, is a purist and can’t understand why the English feel the need to focus their energy abroad.

Closer to home, AFC President, Mohamed Bin Hammam, said any proposal to play EPL matches in the Asian region would not be approved.  FFA Chairman, Frank Lowy, concurred with Hammam and categorically expressed his opposition to the idea by saying no to EPL plans.  So, football is the winner after all.  Everyone that counts is against the EPL being played anywhere other than where it rightly belongs: on English home soil.

What I would endorse is the top EPL teams coming out to Australia (and other international cities) to play exhibition matches against domestic league teams and promoting the game.  That is still a money-making exercise but done in a way which is productive and beneficial to all parties, and I stress the word “all” involved.  You could just imagine Sydney’s ANZ Stadium or Melbourne’s famous MCG packed to the rafters to see Sydney FC or Melbourne Victory play the Gunners or the Red Devils.

I was in the crowd when the Socceroos played Manchester United on 15 July, 1999 at the new Olympic Stadium in Sydney, approximately one year before the Sydney Olympics in 2000.  To sit in my seat cost $155, for that I didn’t even get to see David Beckham nor did I have the privilege of watching Sir Alex Ferguson on the bench, he didn’t travel.

Still, 65,000+ fans turned-up to see both sides with a certain Mark Bosnich playing in goal for the visitors.  We can only image what it would be like today.  Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Rio Ferdinand, the list goes on and on…

I’m not sure that everyone who watches the EPL understands or can even differentiate between what they know as the “Barclays Premier League” and “English Football”.  These are not two and the same.  3 out of 4 of the top Clubs are managed by foreign coaches with a majority of foreign players in each of the starting line-ups, playing a style that is not typically English.

So I say, with the exception of Manchester United, the cream of the EPL is not fundamentally English.  Therefore, let’s not assume these teams are promoters of English football.  This makes for an interesting debate.

It seems as though big business with all its money and media lost the battle to tour the EPL.  It’s good to know our leaders in world football still have amateur hearts, keeping the game where it fits: with its people.  We can only hope that this proposal was a battle and not a war which will rear its ugly head in the future.  Blatter and Co. won’t be around forever, we can only hope that what’s in the best interests of football is always king.

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