English football goes global – and there’s no going back
The Grim Reaper of English football is remarkably full of life, given he has so much death to deal with. Richard Scudamore is convinced that if he does not take Premier League matches beyond these shores, the world’s most popular and wealthiest football league will wither and die. Standing still, in globalised sport, is suicide.
His opponents will have none of it. His motives are pure greed, and his plan to play mid-season competitive games all around the world is a final nail in the coffin of the national game, among other clichés. To thousands of angry fans, and splenetic newspaper columnists celine nano replica, Scudamore has “sold football’s soul” or, with his Reaper robes on, is “the man who killed English football”.
Scudamore does not look remotely guilty as he jauntily walks into a room full of Sunday newspaper journalists to talk about the end of football as we know it, or the beginning of a new era, depending on your point of view. Those who believe the end is nigh, who are clearly in the majority in this country, have already started their petitions and campaigns, though they have not necessarily directed them at the right target. Scudamore’s “crime” is to have announced a proposal, which could yet founder, for the Premier League to play competitive matches outside Europe. There are many details to be decided but thus far, and if all goes to plan, we know this:
· Two days after the end of the 2009-2010 season, a draw will be made in London, pairing all 20 teams. The top clubs will be seeded to avoid each other.
· Two of those pairings will be drawn to one of five host cities who successfully bid to stage matches – maybe Cape Town, Dubai, Beijing, Miami, Sydney or Bangalore, but maybe not. There are more than 200 cities that might bid that must be warm enough (a prerequisite), safe enough and capable of staging big events.
· The following January, halfway through a season that starts in early August, four teams will fly to each destination for a week of acclimatising, training and promoting the games. Two will play on Saturday and the other two on Sunday.
· The matches will be in different time zones so the armchair fan can enjoy “a live TV experience like you’ve never seen”, with games starting at 9am (Asia) and running through until 10pm (United States), on both days. These extra games will be part of the next TV deal, for which negotiations start $1600 new celine brown distressed leather satchel boston tote bag handbag purse in the spring of 2009.
· The teams will return to England, have a midweek free of fixtures, and play again the following weekend against opponents who played on $405 celine women’s baby audrey cl 41053 a different day in the same city, thus eliminating any big differences in jetlag.
“There are hurdles to get over,” says Scudamore. “We need two clear weeks in the $2150 celine black laser floral cutout hem strapless silk taffeta dress 36 nwt calendar. The local FA of the host cities must sanction it, as $1290 celine black leather gold heel tall boots sz 37 must our own Football Association.” But he is confident it will happen. “I know what people are saying and writing, but it is not purely about money, not at all. This is about taking the League forward, recognising that you can’t stand still. Nobody can stand still.
“We are in a privileged position [as the world’s most popular football league] but also a vulnerable position. There is a globalisation of sport we can’t deny. And we are faced with a strategic decision. Do we seize the moment and seek to move forward, or do we batten down the hatches, stay domestic, sit there and watch other people do it, other leagues, other sports, other forms of entertainment? Or even the four or five biggest clubs, I won’t name them but we know who they are, in our own competition?
“This is for the benefit of all 20 clubs. If 0 celine a scene 75 hours we don’t do something strategic, the world will not stand still. There are clubs who will go off and do this anyway. They will make X million pounds out of it and the rest will make nought.”
So, is Scudamore reacting to $675 celine black tall leather boots w a threat of a breakaway, of a power play by those foreign-owned big clubs? No, he says. No club has played a definitive role in these plans, which have been talked about for more than a year. The proposals have come from the League’s executive, and all 20 clubs back the idea.
“This is not big-club driven, or foreign-owner driven It is a strategic decision. I’m not avoiding the fact that it’s financially attractive. But given that globalisation is coming, I am not ashamed of this proposal. I can’t sit here and apologise for wanting to take the League forward.”
Nor should he, whatever anyone might think about transcontinental domestic football. The details are wide open to criticism – adding a randomly drawn 39th game and keeping the top teams apart seems daft – but Scudamore is doing his job, which is to bring in revenue, protect collective selling, think ahead, plan ahead and make the League stronger. Growth or death is the mantra for the modern sports executive.
The world of sport is changing rapidly and radically, with NFL games in London, Russian football clubs hoping to play a match here, European golf in India, Formula One shifting from Europe to Asia, American basketball pushing into China, and any number of other changes, as detailed in a recent series on globalisation in these pages. During that series, last October and November, we even predicted that this would happen: European football being played in Asia and North America. It is an inevitability, not a surprise.
The Premier League has been around for 16 years. “We have developed in phases: domestic, international, then global,” says Scudamore. “We have become a global phenomenon. For five years we have had approaches about taking games abroad. In the last 18 months it has become $1450 bnib celine off a torrent. If we can put a shield around our domestic game this is the best way to do it.”
The plans, Scudamore believes, have been thought through to a level of detail that eliminates some of the “radical madness” that has been suggested, such as breakaway leagues, clubs keeping their own broadcast income, or following the NFL model which 0 celine 173823ska 18cc conversion takes a home game away from one unlucky club – “a perfect example of how not to do it”. He dismisses any mention of franchises, or of an end to relegation.
He is aware of the debate, of those thousands of angry supporters. “But if public opinion had decided everything there would be no Premier League. If we had taken a vote back in 1992 football would never have gone on pay TV. There’s a different mood now, isn’t there? We are such a conservative nation, so resistant to change, $950 new celine us 10 eu 40 turquoise pony hair espadrille loafer slip our initial reaction to everything is ‘How is it going to affect us negatively?'” According to management experts and psychologists there are four stages in dealing with significant change, and not everybody will make it all the way to stage four: denial/anger; confusion; renewal; and contentment. They apply to business, for employees and customers, and at home, for partners going through a divorce or family loss. And, it seems, to football fans who feel disenfranchised.
Anger came to these pages more than three years ago, in our 2004 series The Game That Ate Itself. Much of what we said about rip-off ticket prices, anti-social kick-off times, predictability and lack of atmosphere is still relevant. The game is drifting further away from the fan to the consumer and that makes match-day less enjoyable and more inconvenient for the paying spectator.
But there is little point in harping on forever, especially when, in the face of all this evidence (confusion phase) the Premier League is, in Scudamore’s words, “attracting more of everybody – at the stadium, on the internet, at home on the television”. Where do foreign fans’ rights come into the argument? More confusion.
We are now edging towards phase three, because there is no going back. Globalisation cannot be uninvented, nor can 0 celine bag & box man the Premier League itself. Sport is business, like it or not. As Roy Keane said on Friday: “Change is good sometimes. I definitely think this is the right way to go.”
There are still many problems with the Premier League’s plans, not least their effect on domestic leagues in the countries where the games are to be played. Perhaps local FAs will be unwilling, especially if Fifa become involved, to sanction games.
If you are among those who cannot bear the thought of this global outreach, there is no point complaining to your Premier League club, or to Scudamore. The place to kick up a fuss is the FA, which has loftier ideals than making money and protecting their business interests. The Premier League cannot go ahead with their international weekend without support from the national governing body. If you are still in denial, seek out your local FA councillor. Or should that be counsellor?