Premier League's Idiocy Driven by Same Impulse That Killed the Brooklyn Dodgers
Lawton, James, The Independent (London, England)
Not a lot is known about the literary taste of Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League. Still less that of the army of well suited and booted marketing whizzkids who were yesterday rallying so zealously to the banner he has raised for the grab-all club chairmen who now want to take the show on the road. But some good money here says that neither he nor any of his disciples have read a book called The Boys of Summer.
Had they done so it is unlikely to have checked their belief in the fiscal wisdom which is apparently so irresistible it is worth destroying the competitive integrity of the oldest football league in the world. It might, however, have given them a little idea of that which they now so nonchalantly dismiss in their stomach- turning talk of the "Hollywoodisation of the league" - yes, someone did say that - and the greater good of "globalisation".
The Boys of Summer, by Roger Kahn, is about what happened to the members of a wonderful baseball team called the Brooklyn Dodgers, and what they meant to their community, and why it was, when the club defected to their new Los Angeles lotusland in 1957, grown men, many of them grandfathers who had taken several generations of their families to the fabled Ebbets Field in the district of Flatbush, held up banners which said things like, "Good riddance, ya bums."
They didn't really mean that. They were were just saying that a vital ingredient in their lives had been taken away, they had been given the equivalent of a farewell note neatly folded on the mantelpiece, and for what? A better stadium on the other side of the continent, and of course, a lot more money for the owner.
This is utterly premature and alarmist talk, we will no doubt be told, but one of the advantages in remembering the past, and how certain ways of thinking got started, is that it provides at least half a clue about what's likely to happen both today and in the future.
Scudamore - and Birmingham City chairman David Gold, among many who should know better - tell us that we should be excited about the bold reach to new horizons that would be represented by playing league matches in far-flung cities. Nor should we worry that it will be done with the help of a seeded draw for an extra fixture, which would count in the final reckoning and, at a single stroke, wipe away the perfectly even field which stretches back to the founding of the league 120 years ago.
The critical reaction to this sickening absurdity has already been both hostile and acute and scarcely needs any elaboration here, but if it is the kernel of the problem, this utter failure to understand the value of durable and absolute standards, there is an equally pressing reason to be rather more alarmed than excited.
It is that the Premiership are saying - as the Football Association did 16 years ago when they waved in the new league and its revenue-hogging TV deals - that the reasons for the outrage first provoked in New York all those years ago do not begin to rank with the overwhelming imperative to build on current profits. This is confirmed by the admission that the League simply needs to be first in globalisation, that having Manchester United play Middlesbrough in Kuala Lumpur in a league match is merely a reaction to the commercial demand of the moment - and that in 10 years this might be considerably more extensive.
The truth can be couched in Biblical terms. The Premier League, with this latest initiative, is simply proving that it is what it was in the beginning, is now, and always will be. It is a vehicle not for the pride of communities, of committed fans, but for the generating of ever increasing profit. When you look at that first prospectus, with its promise of a reduced fixture list, down to 18 clubs at most and sharply increased time for the development of the national team, it tells us all we really …
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Publication information: Article title: Premier League's Idiocy Driven by Same Impulse That Killed the Brooklyn Dodgers. Contributors: Lawton, James - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: February 9, 2008. Page number: 74. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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