Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Move the goalposts. Then butter them.

And finally, football.

Amid continuing revelations of cheating and corruption at the highest levels of British soccer, the chairmen of the Premier League, the Football League, and the Football Association are facing mounting pressure from fans and financial backers alike to stop the plummeting of esteem in which the national game and its administrators are held.

As ever more top players and mangers are exposed at having been involved in match-rigging, embezzlement and breaking the transfer rules, the game’s authority has never been lower


Each day more players, coaches and chief executives are forced to resign by supporters’ clubs and boards for bribe-taking and the battle lines are being drawn between those who propose radical reform, those who want more subtle change…and those who just want there to be football on Saturdays.

The chairman of the Premiership in whose term of office these startling and depressing events have taken place over the past 2 years seems immune to any criticism of his stance and record, and has bluntly refused to resign. He explained on Sunday that he’s the best man for the job of cleaning up football (despite any concerns of the game’s parlous finances over which he has presided for the past 12 years: firstly as Treasurer and later as Chairman), and has suggested that the Premiership itself, along with other selected top echelon football officials from amongst his colleagues who haven’t so far resigned to spend more time with their golf courses, should make a new rule-book to govern players’ remuneration and enforcing of the rules of the game and the business which funds it. All this despite there being already a large body of perfectly good rules which have been broken or stretched far beyond their original and innocent intention.

The Football League - which represents the smaller and more obscure teams - has come up with the most radical plans.

It has suggested that matches no longer be won purely on the numbers of goals scored in each individual game.

Dick Clogg explained: ‘This outdated system doesn’t reflect the number of shots on target, passing opportunities, corner kicks and successful tackles. We propose that victories should henceforth be awarded on a more proportional system which weighs in favour of smaller, less powerful teams: involving a sophisticated formula of shots-on-target divided by fouls or penalties ruled against a particular side, multiplied by the number of goals scored by the ‘winners’ compared with similar goals scored by numerically-higher goal-scorers in all the other games on that particular match day.

We also want to introduce style points, a handicap system, an oche for free kicks, tickets to be paid for only with Luncheon Vouchers, and maybe shuttlecocks.

Simple, really.’

On the other hand The Football Association is emerging as the most popular alternative to the Premiership - but not overwhelmingly so.

It chief executive is proposing to devolve powers and of enforcement and rule-making down from the top to the national and local leagues, and even in some cases to the clubs themselves. This has met with some criticism even from the FA’s supporters as players and fans alike point out the often autocratic and dubious practices of local managers and their boards, and believe this won’t even being to address the underlying day-to-day problems of football: that its high income from national and even international corporate sponsorship means that its professional class of players and management are remote from the everyday game and those who support it by buying tickets and merchandise.

As one fan said recently: ‘If you shell out £40 to take the kids to the match every Saturday plus another twenty for food and programmes, you’d like to see a bit more of a game than a bunch of over-paid Nancy-boys rolling on the turf or hugging one another each time the average game’s one or two measly goals is scored. We’re not asking for bloody miracles here; we don’t want to be world leaders any more, but just to have a good home game every now and then for our money.

Not that it makes much difference,’ he went on glumly ‘since all the important decisions are taken in Zurich by FIFA anyway.


I meant to say ' if you fork out £40. ‘

Agreeing though they would with that last comment, the British Olympic Association wasn’t available for interview – busy as it was signing up numerous disillusioned footie supporters on the promise of taking them out of FIFA-dominated international soccer altogether and to restore traditional two-authority control in Britain as it had always been in previous, pre-FIFA decades.

Nobody could pluck up the courage to ask the pigeon-fanciers what they thought, and the yoga people tried to take the ball off our correspondent and exchange it for a wilted daisy.


James Higham said...

Life in terms of football.

North Northwester said...

And tomorrow, James, it'll be poetry.


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