Writer: Andy Leggott
Date:Thursday February 7 2008
I suppose it was inevitable in its own way. As each of our clubs continues to be seduced by the Premier League`s billions new avenues for expanding revenue streams are always top of the agenda.
Now that we have yet another record breaking TV deal where next? Never an organisation to miss a trick, the Premier League is now looking to matches being hosted on foreign shores.
Structured over one weekend, all Premier League clubs would play an extra game across a series of countries with all teams drawn at random but with the top five being seeded. The points would be counted towards a 39 game Premier League season.
What an utter load of garbage. Talk about selling your soul to the devil. The only places where this ridiculous idea would prove popular is in the Premier League chairmen`s wallets and in the countries where games were to be hosted.
And what of the real supporters? Those that spend fortunes week in week out to follow their club`s around the country. Like re-scheduled games and exorbitant pricing have proven they don`t really matter.
You may ask what gives a Manchester City supporter, especially one who welcomed the intervention of Thaksin Shinawatra at his club, the right to speak out about club`s selling out. Well I`m sorry but when the very existence of my club was in question hypocrisy today is the least of my worries.
This proposal however should send shockwaves through all of the club`s supporters. If the idea gets off the ground and is a success what next? Two, three or four games a season in Hong Kong or Thailand? Half a season in the US? The potential for screwing us the supporter is endless.
And what of the integrity of the competition? If the top five are seeded to avoid each other surely that means in essence that they each get one easier game in their fixture calendar. What of, for example, a Fulham or Wigan having to play an extra game against a Chelsea, United or Arsenal whilst a Bolton or Sunderland draw a West Ham or Newcastle in comparison? It is simply unfair and devalues the competition.
This remember, if you listen to most Premier League managers, is already a competition that has too many fixtures yet still the money men want more.
I`ll be perfectly honest. I don`t care if your average man in a Thai street never gets to see City play live. If he wants to watch live games let him follow a club in his own country. The same applies to United fans in Singapore and Liverpool`s in Hong Kong. The only supporters that should matter are those that have always invested in their clubs with their support.
Foreign supporters are more than welcome to watch on TV or travel to this country to be part of the circus. If the league insists the game must be taken to people who have played no part in its development then it`s time that we that do care, and whose support is taken for granted, start making a stand and begin reclaiming our game.
Date:Thursday February 7 2008
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