The terrifying future of football
Football isn’t really football anymore, is it? It’s business masquerading as entertainment. Showbusiness (spelt showbiznez). It’s a cold-blooded, stone-hearted, money-making bastard. And it doesn’t like you. Get used to it. It’ll only get worse.
But then there are people like the Premier League’s Richard Scudamore. He may have a shudderingly repugnant public image among fans and press, but the perception is nothing like the man. I don’t know him. I’m just giving him the benefit of the doubt that he is actually a visionary, one of the great, creative minds of our time.
His problem is he’s too bloody clever, you know? It’s a burden at times, I bet, his mind brimming with ideas about enhancing the Premier League’s status as the best league in the world (sorry, ‘Barclays’ Premier League; drop the sponsor and men in suits and Ray Bans hunt you down and deduct a digit for each indiscretion. I now mash the keyboard with my palms, hence the profound redundancy and borderline pointlessness of this article).
The Scud, as I call him for the way his missiled brain-bombs hit the spot so accurately, thunked up the 39th game concept a while back, attempting to take English football’s crown jewels triumphantly, proactively, innovatively forward in the 21st century and subsequently around the world in, essentially, a series of lucrative tour matches incorporated into the season’s final standings. He was laughed out of town, but it’s this kind of thinking, monetization and marketing that has come to rule football.
As it’s the close-season and you must be bored of two-phone Sky Sports News reporters hawking non-information and raising hopes of signings your club will never make, I came up with five other BRILLIANT, Scudamore-esque projects to make the beautiful game, well, even more beautifuler. Don’t laugh, this is serious…
The 5 + 5 + 1 law
You do the math. FIFA tried to force through their 6 + 5 dictat (a ‘foreigner’ limit rule) but EU legislation wouldn’t allow it. Football’s authorities, when undistracted by brown paper envelopes, have been keen to drive through some kind of edict on the make-up of teams and squads and the ‘homegrown’ trend, positive in purpose as it is, has already taken root. But can football go further, satisfy an audience hungry for a greater identification with the game, maintain its entertainment value and make even more money? Well, no. But what if we introduced live animals into the arena, so our already feted players can be adored like Roman Gladiators, immortalised, like Athenian Gods or something? The rule would be thus: each team must contain at least five ‘homegrown’ players, no more than five ‘foreigners’, and one beast, selected from a drafting system similar to the NFL in the US of Stateside (we take all our ideas from them anyway). There’s a grading system, so the worst team gets first pick from 20 animals. They might choose a lion for its ferociousness, for example, or put an elephant in goal, maybe select a giraffe as a target man (but we’ve already got Peter Crouch, you jest. Shut up). Whatever needs suit. The reigning champions might be left with a mangey mutt (HILARIOUS Ji-sung Park sub-plot, anyone?). Are you telling me this wouldn’t up the entertainment of the league?
Hahahahahahahahahahaha LOLZ! KMT!! Don’t be soft. I said this for a laugh. A jape.
Remember that, from the TV advert? Can’t remember what it was advertising now. That could have been one of Scudamore’s ideas right there. At a climactic point in the match, numerous footballs are unleashed onto the field. All goals count. Double. I know what you’re thinking, this appeals to the US market, because Americans as we know are not satisfied without the constant gratification of a ‘score’ every three minutes or less. It’s true, this would finally crack America. And as for the loyal fans back home? Well, they’re English and so painfully passive they won’t complain. If they do, they’ll huff an puff for a bit then quietly step back in line. Besides, if you like football, how can you not like footballs?
Nobody likes a cheat, but if *everyone* was cheating then you have to ask: is it really cheating? It no longer becomes a moral or professional dilemma if everyone’s doing it, it’s merely a matter of doing it better. Picture how good a supplement-boosted Premier League would be: a bionic John O’Shea *literally* playing every position; the destructive force of 65mph throw-ins from Rory Delap; or, more terrifying still, a pumped-up George Elokobi? Sadly, there’s no known medical cure for Arsenal’s lack of backbone to supplement their pretty passing. But they’d be a bit more physical at least.
Manager swap – LIVE!
Current bosses are traded in for disgraced former Premier League managers brought back to avenge former failures. Big Ron (free Big Ron!), Egil Olsen, Christian Gross and Alan Shearer could all vie for the top jobs. But here’s the thing: they get their positions based on X-factor style auditions in front of a live studio audience and a panel of judges: Mark Lawrensen (as Louis Walsh, but more camp), Simon Cowell playing himself, OBVIOUSLY, and I don’t know throw in a, some would say cretinous, wannabe wag, like Imogen Thomas. The managers would plead their case by doing team-talks live on stage based on different game scenarios, viewers spending millions on phone votes. There would also be the emotional undercurrent of a personal tale of woe – Egil Olsen had his wellies stolen, Christian Gross’s pet parrot dies, or Alan Shearer reveals his inner pain over his Steve McClaren-like hair island – which naturally they triumphantly overcome somehow, all suitably soundtracked by a heart-rending, anthemic crescendo – maybe murder Sigor Ros’s Hoppipolla a bit more? – for the idiots who can’t identify emotion independently. The nation weeps and whoops and takes a new hero into their hearts. The managers win the right to boss the newly-installed 39th game, with a token celebrity, like Danny Dyer or that little bald guy who’s inescapable on the home improvement shows on daytime TV, as temporary assistant. This would fill the aching boredom of the summer months, most crucially done with lucrative TV deals, and spin-off sister series hosted by some haircut from T4, plus money-spinning merchandise: Christian Gross t-shirts, Big Ron mobile apps and motivational Alan Shearer ringtones etc.
If these ideas wouldn’t improve the game as a spectacle, as a product (*vomits on own shoes*), I don’t know what would.