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Peak Football

By Sam  Morrison :  11/02/2008 :  Comments (16) :
For anyone not familiar with the term ?peak oil?, it describes the moment when maximum oil production is reached, and henceforth supplies begin a terminal decline, even as oil demand continues to rise. This is the grave situation the world is facing in the next few years (anything from 20 to as little as 5 from now) when our way of life will change dramatically.

Sorry to start with such a downer — on a positive note one country, Cuba, went through a similar process via sanctions and somehow managed. So if you start growing food in your backyard now you?ll probably shrug off the crisis when it hits by steaming another courgette over your open fire.

Okay, how does this relate to Everton? Well, on two counts, both relating to ?Game 39?. The first is a physical and logistical one. At a time when FIFA is trying to stage carbon-neutral World Cups (The Green Goal Initiative) and environmental campaigners worldwide are trying to find ways of reducing our carbon footprint, the Premier League in its wisdom decided it would be a great idea to send 20 teams to the four corners of the earth every year to play a domestic fixture.

Now while they make a case for the ?promotion? of the EPL at ?home and abroad? on the Premier League website as one of their key objectives, they also state they will:

?Use our power and influence responsibly to improve the game in this country and abroad through partnership with the FA, UEFA and other bodies.?

To me, ?improving responsibly? would address ongoing issues of officialdom, diving, goal-line technology and perhaps the serial releasing of turgid autobiographies by men barely in their twenties who already have more money than they know what to do with, and little advice to impart.

It doesn?t ring true when applied to the 39th game, for reasons stated above. The 39th game is about money and Keith Wyness and his ilk should at least have the balls to say so and not dress it up in business-speak about profiling. At least if he did that we?d start off the debate on an even footing.

I think it?s great that the Premier League wants to keep building a fan base abroad and I?m not one of those people who think everyone should piss off and watch their local team. I don?t think this debate should descend into that kind of blanket xenophobia because it does the cause no good. But frankly I doubt it?s the football-starved teenagers of East Asia that are keeping Keith awake at night — after all, there is excellent EPL coverage pretty much worldwide now on television.

The second count of peak oil relating to football was the one of saturation point. I must admit I find the idea of a 39th game distasteful because it?s so blatantly one that is corporate-led. They may say, accurately, that the demand for the game is there from the ?consumers?, but the key word here is demand. Sure there?s a ?demand? (if you accept the capitalists' definition of ?demand? as ?people will turn up? they?re not out in the streets protesting or anything). But sometimes, if you are acting ?responsibly? you put other issues first: issues like the tradition, the environmental concerns, the (comparative) integrity of the league as it exists at the moment.

It?s all very well for Wyness to bang on about people being resistant to change, as if anyone who doesn?t agree with the plan is some back-country Luddite who points at planes, but his arguments don?t stand up if he doesn?t actually address the issues people are protesting about.

For me, 38 games is plenty, and the EPL uses more than it's fair share of air miles already. To add another ?because we can? isn?t anything to do with the big-heartedness of those footballing missionaries who own the premiership clubs. It?s down to greed, and nothing more.

Reader Comments

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Kieran Fitzgerald
1   Posted 12/02/2008 at 22:00:39

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I don?t know how well clubs are going to buy this. I appreciate that clubs probably have certain obligations that they have to meet with PL officials in term of sponsorship, financial deals and so on. But I think that playing games like this abroad are more lucrative and more appealing as part of a pre season tour.
Robert Carney
2   Posted 12/02/2008 at 23:13:08

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Is this ploy regarding the 39th game no more than the group of 14 saying "Sing our song or we fuck off"? Any decent football fan / club board or administrators should call their bluff.

The growth as we know is in the middle to far east and beyond. Not Europe as they first thought.

Look around, everyone knows it is about greed. I am not insular and I love the thought of hundreds of thousands of people suppoting Everton. They must realise that their national game comes before the Premier League many thousands of miles away.

Enjoy the spectacle on tv, go to the pre-season freindlies when they come around and more importantly support your local teams with the same passion.
Stuart Reid
3   Posted 13/02/2008 at 00:16:17

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I think we have already passed the saturation point of football. I don’t watch as much football as I once did, and a lot of this is down to boredom. It is also rather depressing to have to acknowledge that nowadays a team like Everton will not be able to challenge for the title unless a billionaire with no motive for turning a profit takes over. If you don’t have the possibility of being the best you are bound to lose interest.

To my mind, if this ’Game 39’ plan goes ahead it is the official sign that the fans, the integrity of the league and the game, and the spirit of fairness are all subservient to money, and I will simply walk away from the game.
Martin Cutler
4   Posted 13/02/2008 at 02:43:23

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I’m dead against the idea (although living in the States as I do the idea of seeing a top match, prefably Everton of course, played over here is enticing.....then again the USA is a big place so a game in say Los Angeles, even if it was Everton, doesn’t do me any good but I digress....).
I just don’t see how they can possibly ensure that it’s fair for all 38 teams. The point has already been discussed I know but if the 39th game for EFC was against say Man Utd and a team 1 point below us played Derby, er, how is that fair? Of course it isn’t...and the argument aht it all balances out over the season simply doesn’t apply in this instance.
And that’s only one problem!

Of course if Sam’s argument about oil running out is true then the teams would have to travel by row-boat or something similar.......that might make for a very long season!

Quick point re: tomorrow’s game....given where we’re playing I would say there’s Nor’way we gonna lose but that’s a bit of a groaner....but joking aside...I full expect the lads to do it!
3-0 to us.
Yak and Vaughn and Johnson.

COYB!!!!!!!!
Peter Manning
5   Posted 13/02/2008 at 08:34:01

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One way or another and in time the PL will get it’s way as we the supporters wont get a vote. I make this staement on the back of "Peak Oil". Now dont hold me to the following stats but the oil industry has been telling us since the mid 50s, yes 50s that Peak Oil is around the corner. They were extracing 10million barrels a day back then @ approx $10 per barrel and now its 90miliion a day @ $100 per barrel and all on the back of the "Peak Oil" scenario. They only had the ability to take oil from the ground or shallow water back then but now the tech exists to take oil from deep water and we all know how much deep water there is on planet earth. I suppose what I trying to say is that football is no longer a sport for the poeple by the people but "large international business" somthing like oil, and the men who run oil have been able to slowly increase the price of oil over the years way above normal inflation and I believe the PL will do the same to us. They will get thier own way eventually.
Keep the faith.
Andy Ellams
6   Posted 13/02/2008 at 10:16:32

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The thing that interests me is how can FIFA/UEFA/FA allow what is going to be a fixture based on a random draw to be part of a major league system. There are lawyers everywhere sharpening their pencils for when their teams gets relegated because they had to play an extra game vs Man U or Arsenal and their nearest rivals had to play Middlesbrough or Fulham. Sure it is all impossuble on any number of legal grounds.
Dawson Boyle
7   Posted 13/02/2008 at 10:24:02

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Well done to the Football Associations in Asia and Australia for opting out of proposals.

The idea undermines their own competitions, a point that has been scarcely made in any of our own debates surrounding the issue.
Sam Morrison
8   Posted 13/02/2008 at 10:37:33

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Good point, Dawson. It?s breathtaking arrogance by the Premier League.
Brian Noble
9   Posted 13/02/2008 at 11:06:36

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Would it be the end of the world if the Big Four did fuck off as Robert suggests they might?Whilst the popular papers and Sky are obsessed with them, a far greater number of foootball fans continue to have affinity for the ’lesser’mortals and I for one would welcome a national game without these ’international icons’.Trouble is , Wyness would want us to be one of them!
Lee Spargo
10   Posted 13/02/2008 at 12:15:43

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I understand your point Sam, but the fact is that nobody is in business for any other purpose than to make money - and the more of it the better. If an opportunity exists to make even more, then a good businessman will exploit it. And that’s what the proble is here, football is business - whether we like it or not.

Personally, I’m quite at ease with the idea. I dont see that it would interfere with my domestic match-going habits, and would give a chance for supporters around the world to see a competitive Premier League match. If that swells the club coffers as well, then great.
Sam Morrison
11   Posted 13/02/2008 at 14:33:03

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Fair point Lee, but my initial point was about carbon emissions and you cannot argue that?s good business - in a broader sense - for anyone. Even those making a mint.
Joe McParland
12   Posted 13/02/2008 at 14:41:27

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If they want to play extra games why not take the F.A. Cup quarter finals to foreign parts then at least thesew[uld be at genuinely neutral venues.
Lee Smith
13   Posted 13/02/2008 at 15:52:42

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Lee Spargo, your comment "If that swells the club coffers as well, then great" really doesn’t hold any water does it. If Everton as a club do gain a big increase in revenue, then so what? It’s not as if we will be better off than any other team in the Premier League as every other team will be raking in the same amount as us, no doubt a whole lot more when it comes to United and Liverpool. This proposal would in no way whatsoever put EFC in a better position to challenge for silverware in England. The extra money would just be spent on increased player wages or even further inflated transfer prices and signing on fees, or quite possibly, be squandered down the drain like most of our finances have been over the last 20 years
Monty Carlo
14   Posted 14/02/2008 at 13:04:44

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Dawson Boyle makes a fair point - one that touches on comments I have made in discussions elsewhere on the ’net.

If football is "peak oil", then the Premier League is the greedy bastard Mister Drysdale from the Beverley Hillbillies.

The PL already sucks up most of the football revenue from this country (and a fair amount from Wales, Scotland and Ireland) and it will also impact on the local football enconomy in these target countries.
Tom Davies
15   Posted 15/02/2008 at 14:12:47

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Surely there would have to be a week long break after these games, because the way managers moan about there players fatigue will surely have an imput.

And who will be paying for the flights and promoting of the individual teams? The clubs or the EPL?
Jon Gray
16   Posted 16/02/2008 at 01:08:00

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I think we can all rest safely after todays reports from the FA and FIFA. Now that FIFA have made it clear that any country hosting or promoting this will forfeit the right to host the World Cup, it’s safe to say we can all sit back and relax now. It’s been the FA’s dream with a fair amount of Govt interest to get the tournament in 2018. Witness these past few days the lengths the FA went to, making Jack Warner admit that the England 2018 WC bid is a great idea.
What will happen now will be a slow death period for those who were so quick to champion it, with Scudamore and our own Mr Wyness looking particularly exposed.

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