Over the next few weeks, I was thinking of writing a series of articles about footballs changing face, what has happened over the last few years, and decades to make it what it is now.
They are all open to debate, and needless to say, half the things I write will be wrong, but they should provide a decent surface to build into decent ‘debates of the week’ or something similar.
Once upon a time, football was a game where 22 men got together to kick a ball round a park. Actually, originally it was a random assortment of people kicking a leather ball around in ancient china, but when we are talking about the history of football, my personal experience is that 1966 is ancient history, and watching England crash out of the France ’98 world cup is pretty ancient too, we generally are assumed to mean in the ‘good old days’ when all the legends were playing for peanuts, Pompey being the first team to win the league back to back (still only 6 teams have done that, I think). In those days, Health and safety in stadiums was
negligible, players played football because they were good at it, and enjoyed it.
These days, football critics say that it is all very different. They say that footballers only play for money, and that there is a lack of passion in the game, even saying that the true purpose of the game is being lost in TV deals and foreign investment. They look at teams like Portsmouth, Man City, Arsenal, etc. and accuse them of making it hard for British talent to shine through. They jibe at the big spenders; Chelsea and West Ham saying that they have lost their love of the beautiful game, whilst hailing Tottenham for buying into young British talent. Most worryingly, they say, football is being turned into a business.
The reality is, however, football has always been a business. Clubs have always charged fans to watch teams play, pay some of it to the players, and make a chunky profit themselves. These days, they say footballers are overpaid. The naivety of this statement is beyond belief. football is itself part of the Entertainment Business, and the Premiership entertains more people than ever before. You can barely travel in any foreign city, town, or village (this, from personal experience, extending to tribes in Thailand) without being made aware of the Premierships success (Manchester united in particular). When more people know your name, than the prime minister of Britain, then surely you are allowed to be paid the wages that David Beckham receives, and when more people have heard of the team than almost any other organisation world wide, (other than coca-cola, of coarse) then you must be allowed to pay the people who attract this attention the money they deserve.
Like it or not, footballers wages are increasing, the amount of money in football is increasing, the amount of foreign investment is increasing, and the amount of people watching the games is increasing. Surely this can only be a good thing?
Written by pompeycarpet.
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