by Tony Attwood
It is quite hard to draw a breath at the moment what with Arsenal doing quite well and the media besides themselves trying to bury their Arsenal visions of the summer and forget everything they previously said. And indeed as the top teams apparently consider a breakaway, and the British government tries to support the FA, having previously given it a vote of no confidence in Parliament.
One might even say it is a funny ol’ game – not least when joined by some of our correspondents who are pushing ever further into the realm of denial-without-evidence. In case you have not seen it denial-without-evidence is an approach which takes an article, says it is factually incorrect, and leaves it at that, without providing any counter evidence.
But in the actual news, the superleague however does have a problem. If the FA and UK government patch up their quarrels and put together a united front against Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United joining the superleague, they will have to give the clubs something by way of return. Although for the moment they are not sure what or how.
At present the FA’s official policy is that there should be fewer non-English players in the Premier League and so they make life difficult for clubs signing foreign players, with strict regulations as to how many internationals the player should have played. Whereas there used to be easy ways round this (as for example when Arsenal signed Gabriel) that loophole is closing already and two more are about to shut down.
The first is the freedom of movement of EU nationals, giving, for example, the likes of Henry and Pires the right to come to England, no questions asked. The second is the habit of Spain in giving south American players right of entry, and then citizenship after two years. They can still do that of course but it won’t affect the UK’s new tight restriction policy once the country leaves the EU. The question of immigration is after all the reason a fair number of people voted to leave the EU and the League has made no move at all to resolve what the rules will be after the UK leaves the EU.
But the existing authorities are keen to knock new ideas, as ever, and the latest move is for Uefa and Fifa to suggest that players would be ineligible for Fifa and Uefa competitions if the clubs they play for were beyond their control.
Whether they would do this is an interesting point. Since the 16 clubs involved will between them have on their books almost nothing but international players, such a ban would seriously weaken international teams, and reduce the spectacle. This is particularly likely given that TV companies have increasingly focussed their coverage on individual players rather than teams (other than their own national team).
In such a scenario the value of the World Cups and European Championships in terms of TV rights would decline dramatically, as the value of the new European League grew.
Of course one of the great advantages that the newly proposed league has is that its opposition does come from organisations like the FA, for while many of us have had the idea that these discussions have been going on for a while, a senior person in the Corridors of Power in London is quoted in newspapers as having admitted, “The Government hasn’t been told about any of this, which suggests the Premier League has also been kept in the dark. We would absolutely oppose this on the basis that it would threaten the culture of sport in England.”
To my mind the biggest threat to the culture of sport in England is the FA, closely followed by drug taking, but that is perhaps another matter. However Der Spiegel has made it clear that clubs in the new European league would leave their national associations, so maybe there are people in the club who, like me, see the FA as an utter disgrace and the biggest obstacle to progress that we have in England.
A man with the most wonderful name of Carsten Thode, who is described as the chief strategy officer of marketing agency Synergy, is quoted as saying, “Uefa, in particularly, will figure out how to get these clubs more money, and this whole thing is likely to go away. The English market is just way too important to the clubs.”
But there is another way of seeing this and that is backwards: these clubs are far too important to the English market for them to be let go.
Imagine if Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United did leave the Football League. How would the table look? Something like this…
|7||Brighton and Hove Albion||11||4||2||5||12||16||-4||14|
|8||West Ham United||11||3||2||6||13||17||-4||11|
Now while I am sure some in Tottenham High Street might quite enjoy a top of the table clash between Tottenham and Bournemouth, I am sure how big a draw that is going to be on TV, and therefore how much the TV companies are going to pay for the rights.
Incidentally, you can always tell when a newspaper is wanting to put forward a strong position but has no logic going for it. They use the phrase “so called” as in, “The so-called founders would not face relegation and would be guaranteed membership for 20 years.” In such a sentence the phrase “so-called” has no point – it is meaningless and adds nothing. Always look for the derisive term in journalism when logic and facts are in short supply.
Incidentally the same source as has given us this story (Football Leaks) has confirmed the view that we’ve been putting forward that Manchester City and Paris St-Germain avoided financial fair play sanctions because of the personal intervention of Fifa president Gianni Infantino. Now there’s a thing!
In other news Garth Crooks is said to have admitted on TV that he was surprised at the skill of Rob Holding, which doesn’t surprise me since clear observation of what is actually happening on the pitch has never been most TV commentators’ strong point.
And Barcelona want to sign Laurent Koscielny (that’s in the Mirror. Honest. I’m not making all this up.)
But of course there are always the negativists doing their thing all day long. Take this one for example, “Broken, No future at Arsenal”, Many Arsenal fans slam star’s performance against Liverpool. That comes from Arsenal Fever, and today’s target is Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Shall we dig out what that site has said in the past about Xhaka? No, maybe not. You can guess anyway.
- Arsenal – the “monster” Manchester City created (according to reports)
- Manchester City v Arsenal: The Big 7 Stats, and comparisons of the last 6 games
- Manchester City v Arsenal: surprising statistics and a result prediction
- Arsenal’s 25 man squad – is it already full?
- Yet another example of the way the media tries to put down Arsenal