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July 2021
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Football does not have to be torn up and replaced (as the media suggests)

By Tony Attwood

“The media as extremists and revolutionaries” – that hardly seems likely.  After all most of the media is owned by extremely rich right wing capitalists – rather like football clubs.   So why on earth would they be revolutionaries?

I think what has happened is they have slipped into the role, each pundit, commentator, journalist, blogger trying to outdo the others in a downward spiral of predicting doom (while specifically avoiding the real problems such as refereeing, ownership, the FA, Fifa and the incompetence of owners and themselves as predictors of the future.

Also, because the one qualification there is for owning a football club is being very rich, the clubs themselves tend to be run in a way that suggests they know how to do it.  On the basis that the owner wouldn’t be very rich unless he knew how to do it.

Which is why it is that Mr Wenger felt moved to comment on the Super League noting, “how amateurish it all that looked in the presentation, in the preparation… You worry quite a lot how our top clubs are managed. It looked to be a quick fix for the financial problems that these clubs have.”

Now that is actually rather an important point; that the clubs needed a quick fix for a financial problem, and they thought this was the easiest way to do it.   That is an interesting story, just as is the fact that other than reporting Mr Wenger’s comment, the media have ignored it.

“Amateurish” implies that there was no chance of success.  The implication is that the clubs were not willing to trust their own professional staff, such as the PR and advertising teams, and so left it all in the hands of the billionaires and their lackeys.  That is indeed amateurish.

That view of what happens makes sense, but it of course was instantly undermined by Gary Neville.  Either his media bosses found the whole idea of an “amateurish” approach not something they could sell as a story, or else who felt that it was getting too close to a truth that reverberated all through football.  “Greed and incompetence from top to bottom” as an analysis of football would require an utterly different vision from the media from that which they have put across for years.

The media needed the rebels to be a football equivalent to Guy Fawkes and the gunpower plot – the attempt to blowing up of the Premier League that failed because the gunpowder was wet.

So Gary Neville was directed to call it the “attempted murder”  of English football.  He then urged people to “mobilise” in order to “protect” the game in future.   Wartime terminology.  Dunkirk spirit!

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We then saw how incredibly rapidly the media turned the whole fiasco into a military style event using military language and so the image of extremists taking over our game was established – when in fact the extremists are the media who are “reporting” (I use the word lightly) these events.

As a result crowds came out at Arsenal during the game against Everton.  “Mobilise” is an emotive word, resonating as it does with conscription in the second world war – and that is perhaps what the crowds thought they were doing.  Fighting for all they hold dear.

This turning of everyday events into fights against extremists, reported with occasional references to wartime is indeed worrying.  Granit Xhaka was “slammed” by Graeme Souness according to the Mirror over his role in Bernd Leno’s “farcical” own goal which gave Everton victory.  Yes, it was a mistake all round, but “slammed”???   Souness actually always looks rather controlled man of evil intent, but no he didn’t slam anyone.

And he is punditing on the basis of his time as manager – although it was hardly a managerial career of success.  He managed eight clubs but only with half of them did he win anything.  Three league titles in Scotland, the FA Cup with Liverpool, a cup in Turkey, and the league cup with Blackburn and Rangers.

Of course much better than I could do but not that brilliant .  Nothing with the other four clubs -although he did once sign and playa player at Southampton without knowing who he was, only to find he couldn’t play football.  That was funny.

The extremism continued into the headlines.  The most read stories the next day were

‘Disgustingly poor’ (The Transfer Tavern)

“‘Poor, poor, poor’: Ian Wright unimpressed by Arsenal star who played ‘amateurish’ last night (HITC) 

“Why Mikel Arteta was so angry with Eddie Nketiah…” Football.London

‘Horrible to see’: The Boot Room

So it continues.  Knock Arsenal, ignore the big issues such as what the owners will do now they have been humiliated.  Why there is such a desire to hide the change in home and away results?  Why is Fifa still being prosecuted?  Why does the operation of the PGMO never get questioned?  Why is the FA presented as the good guys?  How does this last attempted breakaway by the PL clubs compare with the setting up of the Premier League and cutting it adrift financially from the Football League?

Interesting questions like that.

Football: the great reform bill and the breakaway

5 comments to Football does not have to be torn up and replaced (as the media suggests)

  • Arome

    The points raised in the last paragraph are supposed to be the big issues in football? Really? “The desire to hide the change in home and away results” is one of the big issues in what again? Football??? Seems you’re either spectacularly out of tune or being deliberately mischievous

  • Andrew

    Blah blah blah, the press is the root of all evils. Don’t you ever write about anything else. Boring…

  • Mikey

    @ Arome

    I’d say the fact that referees claim to be near perfect whilst independent, academic research shows this to be spectacularly far from the truth, whilst it remains unquestioned by the media or the authorities raises a huge fundamental question about the integrity of English football, yes.

    But I’m happy to be enlightened. What is it that I’m also out of tune with? What are the big issues? You didn’t say.

  • Andrew, yes I do write about other things, but I write a fair bit on this topic because first, I think it is the case that the media is doing a lot to whip up negativity and anger, and no one else is writing about it, but instead continuing to put forward the idea that what they are saying is true, which I don’t think it is.
    When one is in a small minority putting forward a point of view that to the writer seems true, it is often necessary to repeat it.
    Although the particularly interesting thing here is that people such as yourself do seem to keep reading what apparently they see as boring nonsense.

  • John L

    Tony,
    You are right about the refs, right about the TV pundits, right about certain Arsenal “fans” and especially right about the media.
    Don’t be deterred by others.
    Keep on doing what you are doing.

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