By Tony Attwood
These are, of course, just my thoughts. They won’t happen, but sometimes dreaming is nice…
This article contains items 1 to 12. The remaining eight appear in the next piece.
1. Change Premier League scheduling so that December / January are not the busiest times.
I know that the crowds are big during the holiday period, and we’ll never get that changed, but why is there a midweek game in early December, and often an extra game in January too? The weather’s bad, the travel is difficult… So I am not asking for the winter break, but rather a re-distribution of matches. And there will be every chance of that if we….
2. Remove all internationals
Of course that won’t happen either, which is why Fifa will sail on unharmed. “We’re against Fifa but don’t take away all those pointless international matches,” say the countries. It’s pathetic really.
Remove Fifa, remove internationals, transform the monopoly FA, should be the rallying cry, although I admit, it lacks the ring of the “What do we want?” chants.
3. Stop conglomerates buying multiple clubs on different continents.
The group owning Man City also own an identikit club in New York and another in Australia. More will follow, so that they can eventually exist in a world unhampered even by the half-hearted not to say half-baked rules of Fifa. It should be stopped now.
4. Total ref reform and true ref reporting
More video assistance to referees, more Premier League referees so each club only gets each ref twice a season, opening up of PGMO so we can see how they get their 97% right statistic, more open discussion of referees in the media, managers only to be fined for criticising a ref’s decisions if an independent panel finds that video evidence shows that the manager was wrong and the ref was right.
5. Abolition of the transfer windows.
I am still not sure why we have them. It doesn’t enhance or reduce the number of transfers, but does lead to stupid purchases at the 11th hour of the final day of the “window”.
The argument has been that clubs can and will try and buy themselves out of trouble – but we’ve seen already that multiple buying doesn’t bring victory. Especially if the “25 player” rule continues. Indeed, with the 25 rule established you don’t need transfer windows at all.
6. Change loan system.
This is the one idea from this list that actually has some support among some of the press scribblers who actually think (and yes, of course there are some).
The loan system in its present form has one more year to run before the “emergency loan” process is removed. But loans will stay there.
The current system allows very rich clubs to buy up everyone they want and then loan them out to any club they feel like – which means in effect the non-oil funded clubs simply never get near these players.
Another year or two of this process and the chances of us ever seeing players like Bellerin or Coquelin come through will be about zero. They’ll be owned by Chelsea and rented out to teams in Russia.
Of course we don’t want players just sitting there not playing, but as I point out a little later in my list in number 15. Journalists should take a short course in contract law, players have the right to force a move, and the loan system is also part of the way clubs are trying to get around this.
And this is not just me having a rant. The Guardian said recently, “the stockpiling of footballers by mega-rich clubs so that other mega-rich clubs can’t have them has become a major problem in Premier League football.” Paul Doyle in the same paper called it “pimping” and proposed a radical change to the law: “If a player does not start at least, say, five matches for his club, he should be allowed leave for free at the end of the season (if he wants to).”
I’ll go with that.
7. Stop talking about ticket prices without talking about the consequences
I read in the Guardian that “Far too many people are being priced out of watching the club they love.”
Let’s consider this in relation to any of the top clubs in England. All of those clubs and many lower down the league are full for every match, so it is not the pricing that is stopping people going it is the demand. It is whether you have a season ticket or a membership.
Yes Arsenal could cut prices and yes Arsenal could take £1.5m from each home match instead of £3m which cuts our income by about £35m a year. Which in turn means £35m a year less to spend on players, while Chelsea’s and Man C’s spending power continues unabated thanks to their oil revenue, and the collapse of FFP.
8. Four teams to be relegated, instead of three, with the last Premier League space decided by a six-team, inter-divisional play-off featuring the Championship and the Scottish title winners.
Not one of my ideas, it came from journalist Barney Ronay, but let’s celebrate a good notion and a clever bit of writing. I’d go with that. I suspect Celtic might as well. Rangers might be miffed.
9. No Thursday, Friday and Monday games. Thankfully because no one listened to the aaa Arsene Wenger stayed in charge and we stayed in the Champions League so Thursday wasn’t on the agenda. But Friday night is coming, and Monday is already here.
It is a pain, it is ludicrous, and all we need to do is overthrow Fifa and then change that rule about not televising matches on normal league days.
People go to watch the club they support irrespective of whether there is a match on. Goodness knows how many Arsenal matches are on TV each season, but I still do a round journey of 180 miles or so to see each game at the Ems, and the occasional away game too.
Football on TV doesn’t affect me, any more than it affects the locals who go to watch their nearby non-league club. Why can’t the FA and Fifa get that?
10. More coverage in the press and on TV for women’s football, lower league football, under 21 games and the like, with all the money thus raised being pushed directly back into facilities at the grounds where the filming takes place.
11. One newspaper, just one, should have an editorial conference where they decide to stop following the childish rampagings of the herd and instead recognise that football is played across a season, and that winning three in a row doesn’t mean one is going to win the league, and losing three in a row doesn’t mean automatic relegation.
While they are at it they can do their research earlier (then they would have realised what a record breaking run Arsenal were on in the Cup – the Arsenal History Society did publish a story on it one year ago), and drop their eternal love affair with Liverpool. Journalists could do a little more research. And while they are at it they could…
12. Abandon the notion that it is ok to ignore certain facts when writing articles.
Barcelona were banned from transferring players for year, not for some trivial slip in arrangements, but for the wholesale movement of children around the globe for their own gain.
Several other clubs are being investigated for the same offence, and several more are under investigation for taking state aid.
Such issues are a part of the game and should be mentioned in articles when a relevant topic comes up. Instead we still have journalists writing about who Barcelona are going to sign. Apparently Ramsey is going there this summer, according to the Sun.
Items 13 to 20 will appear in the next article.
On this day
2 June 2005: Ashley Cole was fined £100,000 for having illegal talks with Chelsea. He claimed he had done so because he was made to feel physically sick by the lowness of Arsenal’s offer in its contract discussions with the player.