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Now I'm gonna have to turn my back on you...

15/02/2015  Comments (42)  jump
Is the product that is the Premier League, with its ever-growing vast riches, increasing detachment from its working-class roots and deference to the dominant personalities at the leading clubs killing the game?

This Everton fan thinks so and wants out...

» Read the full article at Biff Bifferson blog

Reader Comments (42)

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Paul Kossoff
1 Posted 16/02/2015 at 02:29:03
I will never stop supporting my club Everton, no matter who plays for us, or what league we are in. Yes, it's sad the game is all about money, but it's my sport amongst others I follow.

When the TV deals dry up and the cash has gone, maybe football will return to the man in the street, but I won't hold my breath.

John Zapa
2 Posted 16/02/2015 at 09:37:34
One day the TV deal will be renewed at a significantly lower sum than the previous renewal. All clubs will suffer greatly (except 5-6 clubs) and many might go into administration as a result. Clubs such as Everton where the TV deal is currently around 65% (it will be even higher with the new deal) of the turnover will be screwed.

In the end, the game will return to its roots as a game for the common people. It will take time. The laws of gravity cannot be defied for ever. What goes up, must come down.

John Raftery
3 Posted 16/02/2015 at 10:20:32
I understand and share many of the author's frustrations but there is no evidence of the demand for Premier League football slackening. The TV deals are likely to increase in value for some time. The current NFL deals are reported to be worth over $6bn per season.

One thing which gives me hope that ticket prices will reduce is that Sky and BT will not be keen to see empty rows of seats on TV screens. The subsidisation of away travel is a step in the right direction.

Nick Entwistle
4 Posted 16/02/2015 at 11:03:41
Agree with John. All the 'wait for the bubble to burst' talk is empty bravado.

Hopefully FFP will make a difference. Are Chelsea really that profitable?

Either way, until the FA or Prem League (whoever decides) makes CL the prize in both cup competitions and play-off for the second spot, it will remain as things are.

But the top teams remaining top are part of the brand. Why upset the overseas audience. I cannot see how things will change, even if all lesser clubs were run as well as Southampton.

In fact, for Europe I'd combine CL and Europa and have one massive un-seeded knock out tournament... wish wish wish... maybe that bubble better burst.

Tony Hill
5 Posted 16/02/2015 at 11:04:34
The threat comes from the loss of proper competition. As things stand, and as they are likely to stand for the foreseeable future, there is only a contest for 4th place among the second tier of the PL and even that requires the sort of exceptional year we had last season and Southampton are having this.

I said on another thread that the Atletico Madrid model has shown that highly organised and well-managed teams can still break the mould but the reality is that they are probably not going to maintain it.

Of course we will support the team but we are the hard core and over time the extra 15,000 or so who turn up because they still think there is something to play for will drift away. The PL is still only young as a competition in historic terms and it has already allowed an effective cartel to be established. I am not convinced that it will survive in its present form once people see that the chances of their team winning anything or getting consistently into Europe are becoming slimmer and slimmer but that the cost to them increases.

Will there be a European Super League at some point? I think there may be, despite the logistical difficulties, but if that does happen then one wonders what happens to the clubs left behind?

Colin Glassar
6 Posted 16/02/2015 at 11:18:38
Every bubble eventually bursts Nick, it’s the law of physics. "It might not be tomorrow, it might not be next week, it might not even be in our lifetime but burst it will." – Harold Smith (Everton prophet and part time psychic) cerca 1946.
Phil Walling
7 Posted 16/02/2015 at 11:18:15
The only way the bubble will burst is if people l stop subscribing to the pay channels..... and that ain't gonna happen.

Sky Sport, for all its faults, is always on in our house and, when all that's available on terrestrial is the ailing FA Cup and 'them' on European nights, I'm one moody bastard.

We're hooked and they know it!

Colin Glassar
8 Posted 16/02/2015 at 11:37:31
I see poor old Sam Eto’o is going to buy an 㾾M villa in Italy and spend about ١m restoring it. No wonder these guys show us no fucking respect when they wander from club to club to get their massive signing-on fees.
Nick Entwistle
9 Posted 16/02/2015 at 11:35:13
Who is the competition? two-team Spain, Germany and France? Italy are not what they were in their 90s heyday.

England is the home of football. That's part of the brand appeal around the world. It's the richest, has the best players, the football is more attacking, and had a jump start and captured the far-east supporter base.

So much more TV will be paid-for. And all sport will go pay-tv. The open has, Wimbledon is going that way. F1 did; cricket, international rugby can't be that far off, and how long too for the World Cup? That's not a bubble, it's just the way things are going.

Mike Allison
10 Posted 16/02/2015 at 11:50:14
Nick, you're right. People moan about the English league, English players and claim it's much better elsewhere, but these people obviously don't watch elsewhere. Imagine if you supported anyone else but Real Madrid or Barcelona in Spain? Every year would be pretty much the same for fans of every other club. Even when Atletico Madrid do well as they did last year, all it really does in the long run is put their players in the shop window for teams with more money.

Also, I still can't believe how much they charge for tickets at grounds where the demand isn't there. The TV companies are effectively already subsidising tickets, but the clubs haven't passed this on so don't get the fans in. Your ticket should be like a loss leader, get people in, and provide them with quality services (mostly food and beer) once inside. Why has no-one realised this?

Finally, I quite like the idea of an implosion. I don't think it's going to happen, but if it does, the clubs who produce a lot of young players are the ones who are going to do well, alongside the ones with history and tradition on their side.

Tony Marsh
11 Posted 16/02/2015 at 11:50:04
It's crying shame how TV companies and big business have taken over the game and replaced the working man as its core follower. Now we have the iPhone spectators who spend the entire game taking snaps of players taking a corner or a throw-in and uploading to Facebook. Fuck the game – look at Stevie Gee scratching his arse.

The atmosphere in the stadiums has all but gone except for certain games. The players are so far out of touch with the common man due to the salaries that there are no real heroes any more.

The lure of football at the weekend is starting to fade for many who just can't be arsed watching twats like Man Utd and Chelsea pay 𧷤k a week to arseholes who don't give a shit. My love for the game is dwindiling fast and it's a chore getting to a game now. There was a time when going the match was was more important than anything else in life.

I think fans of my generation are the last of the old guard old school football supporter. What we have now at big clubs is a circus event for would-be glory hunters from all corners of the earth. Swapping teams is easy. Just follow the big boys until they go shit then jump ship and buy a different shirt.

Everton are probably one of the few remaining working class clubs left in the Premier League but that's only because we are a trophy-free zone and have a crap ground... Five trophies since the 1970 league title will not attract the fly-by-night followers. Once our generaton has gone, EFC will slowly fade away unless a Sheikh comes along with his oil money?

Sky and BT will pump more money into the players' pockets and the clubs will not see a huge increase in revenue like some think. We the fans will continue to be treated like mushrooms... Kept in the dark and shat on..

Phil Walling
12 Posted 16/02/2015 at 12:05:04
Little room for young players in today's EPL. No time to 'bring them on' and few managers have the will or time to do so.

Ideally, we would have liked to have seen the likes of Barkley, Garbutt and Stones become established stars this season but only the latter has been able to make such an impact that he is undroppable.

For our part as species, we demand results – although most would have accepted six wins in twenty-five games had it been a true transition season from old to young. Or would we?

Nick Entwistle
13 Posted 16/02/2015 at 12:10:22
Yup, I know it was on TV and both teams are shite, but the empty seats at Villa Park were telling. We all know the romance of the cup is no more than a quicky behind the dumpster nowadays, could they not have slashed tickets?

Unfortunately, they use high PL attendances as way of defending what they do. I don't know if its fleecing or the middle classes having added to supporter bases or what. But I think most fans are still supporters of their team where as the wider game is an irrelevancy.

Eric Myles
14 Posted 16/02/2015 at 12:15:27
Nick #9, I've not noticed F1 going PPV, at least it's not where I am. Is it in UK?
Tony Hill
15 Posted 16/02/2015 at 12:22:53
Nick, I've noticed Villa's crowd thinning whenever they're on telly and not just in the cup. I understand what you say about pay TV but they have to get live crowds secured otherwise their product looks shit. We're by no means at the point of collapse yet but I think there are signs, evidenced by the author of the main piece here, that impatience is growing.
Colin Glassar
16 Posted 16/02/2015 at 12:43:51
Nick, who would want to pay to watch cricket or golf? They must be the most boring sports ever invented.
Paul Thompson
17 Posted 16/02/2015 at 12:25:16
The original blog began:

"On Wednesday night I decided I was going to try and cut Everton out of my life. The goal of course is to shit out the Premier League – that's the virus. Everton is the host. I'm 43 and have supported them since I was about six."

The rest of the blog was a collection of gripes about the Premier League: referees, fouls, excessive pay, fleecing fans etc. It's hard to disagree with much of this, but I've been a supporter of Everton for a lot longer and I could come up with a different but equally long list of complaints and deficiencies about previous eras.

If you want to stop watching the Blues or the Premier League or anything involving a ball, fine. But do you really have to parade your reasons to the rest of us (we've had a few 'that's enough I'm off' on TW as well). The internet has many virtues, but it's also an opportunity for narcissistic whining to be elevated into social commentary.

Biff the blogger (yes, that's his moniker) ultimately gives the game away when he says 'Of course if Everton were any good it might be different. But they're not so it isn't'. There have been many occasions when I have wished I didn't love the club so much. But I do and no shit league or manager or referee is going to fundamentally change that. If it does, I promise to keep it to myself.

Andrew Ellams
18 Posted 16/02/2015 at 12:40:57
As match day revenue becomes a smaller and smaller piece of the equation the clubs are going to have less interest in match day attendances whilst they are still a relatively good number. What else in Aston Villa's part of the country attracts a guaranteed attendace of 25,000+ every other week.
Tom Bowers
20 Posted 16/02/2015 at 13:01:27
Guys, what's the problem. It's all big business like any other industry. We fans have the choice to buy the product or not.

It's a good statement when you say stop the season ticket purchases and satellite subscriptions and things will force them to change. The football was better to watch and more sporting 50 years ago when we had none of this satellite crap.

Nick Entwistle
21 Posted 16/02/2015 at 15:12:23
Hey Eric,

Sky have exclusive live rights to about half the Grand Prix, the rest are shared live with BBC. For the other half the BBC have highlights a couple of hours after the event.

So long as you avoid the result, it's fine as you still get about 70 mins of racing. And only 5% of that is any good.

I could give a moan about F1 as much as I could PL!

Harold Matthews
22 Posted 16/02/2015 at 16:15:54
Colin. My sporting weekend kicks off every Thursday when the golf kicks in. It's my most successful betting medium and I absolutely love it.

I also subscribe 㿀 per month to Racing UK, another passion. Roll on Cheltenham.

Like Phil, Sky Sports is never off but I do like the odd programmes on UFOs and Bigfoot.

Ray Roche
23 Posted 16/02/2015 at 17:02:30
Harold, unfortunately as Sky have now got the rights to the Open it means that there will be virtually no golf at all on terrestrial TV. Therefore, golfers like myself will have no access to our (2nd) sport. I fear that, in the pursuit of even more cash in the short term, those bastards at Sky will kill the game of golf off. Because so many young kids etc. spend more time sat in front of their computer screens fewer lads are taking the game up and clubs everywhere are struggling for membership. The reason I think that this is down to Sky is this, when kids see a sport on TV they get the appetite to try it for themselves. You only have to look at municipal tennis courts when Widdlebum is on to see the effect that TV has on participation.

With the amount of televised football on nowadays why is grass roots football also struggling, according to the discussions following the new Premier League TV deal? Now, I know that may seem contradictory but football is a bit different, lads follow a team as much as having the desire to play themselves and can do that at home in front of their own TV. Or in the pub. Fewer participants means fewer quality lads at Academies and ,maybe, a dearth of footballers from local leagues in the future.
I think allowing Sky the right to dominate even more sports is a bad thing.

Colin Glassar
24 Posted 16/02/2015 at 17:31:47
Hate golf, despise cricket, abhor horse racing. Sorry Harold. Oh, and I do love my UFO and conspiracy programmes.
Phil Walling
25 Posted 16/02/2015 at 17:36:26
Explains a lot, Colin. I know somebody else who lives in fantasy land.
Colin Glassar
26 Posted 16/02/2015 at 17:40:41
We are not alone Phil, the truth is out there. Did you know, no one can hear you scream in space?
John Gee
27 Posted 16/02/2015 at 17:38:56
What I don't get is Richard Scudamore is allowed to have the opinion that these mega wealthy players are ok to have the money but clubs are under no obligation to pay employees a living wage.
I find this sickening and anyone who has a tory sticker on their car should witness the "trickle down" effect in action.

Football used to be about what happens on the field, now it's about what happens in the boardroom. If you don't have obscene amounts of cash to throw away you're just there to make up the numbers.

Football has never been richer and yet we're in debt with decrepit old stadium trying to scrape the pennies together to get a new cheapo-dome, while bored players are struggling to find things to spend their money on. Every time I see a diamond stud in an ear or 㿊,000 watch on one of these players my stomach lurches at the thought they got this money from people who would see their lives transformed if they earned those wages for just a month.

Money aside, the vast majority of games are crap and are usually decided by a decision of a referee. I also take the point about "personalities" in the game. If I worked with or had a friend who acted like Mouriniho or Wenger I'd tell him to grow up and stop acting like a spoilt child.

This thread is tailor made for the "I'll always love my club" shouts, You're like the battered wives who keep going home to the abusive dickhead that's making her life a misery. Some of us are a little more pragmatic and I've got to say I'm teetering on the edge turning my back on this embarrassing circus.

One more thing, sport is about competition. If 17 out of the 20 clubs vying for the trophy before a ball has even been kicked are discounted then what is the point?

Colin Glassar
28 Posted 16/02/2015 at 18:21:20
John, I’m with you especially after reading about eto’o buying an 㾾m palace in Italy. I mean, most of these guys are semi-illiterate (I’m not talking about eto’o btw) thicko’s who couldn’t hold down a job on a till in tesco.
Tony Hill
29 Posted 16/02/2015 at 18:40:12
I notice Colin that the villa may have Tutankhamun's curse upon it. Sometimes I wonder if there was an Evertonian prominent among those who opened the tomb.
Colin Glassar
30 Posted 16/02/2015 at 18:44:54
Yes Tony, the house belonged to lord Caenarvon the fella who financed the carter expedition. He died, I think, in that house then his son after him also died there.
I think the good lord was an Everton shareholder hence our continuos bad luck over the years.
Eugene Ruane
31 Posted 16/02/2015 at 17:38:29
Well firstly, I understand the lads anger/disappointment and would be surprised to hear anyone say..

"What does he mean? - I like the PL and think it's quite fair"

As for any 'moral' dilemma of helping facilitate something that is plainly rotten, by buying season tickets (I do) and/or going to the match, that's for each individual to decide and (in mitigation?) worth remembering it's one of the few decisions in life we make when we don't apply logic, sense or clear thinking (nb: that's possibly the appeal - I know I don't apply my Everton lack of thinking to any/many other decisions I have to make in life).

Never say never I suppose, maybe it'll change for me and there'll be a moment of staggering clarity that has me (like some of my mates) saying 'Fuck 'em, watch it in the alehouse, few pints, no waiting in the pissing rain/snow for an 81 after watching 90 minutes of ineptness and incredible frustration'

But for now..

Moving on - what I can't believe is that sports channels make anything or have any subcscibers.

I'll explain.

A couple of years back I was working (for six months) in Sweden.

There were two Scottish brothers in the office I worked in (both Hearts daft) and I became good mates with them (still am).

Anyway, after I'd been there a few days, one of them rigged up my laptop so I could get the bbciplayer/ITV/Ch4 etc out there (something to do with bypassing proxies or...something).

It meant I could go 'home' after work and watch the telly just like at home.

These two lads knew their computer onions and told me - 'There nae need tae pay fer a fuckin' thing - ye can watch whitever ye want fer fuck aw.'

And you can - every and any match.

Or if you want, you can watch it in a pub that has 500 sports channels (with the added bonus that the commentary's in Greek so you can't understand the shite being spouted by Robisoss Savagiakos)

So who is paying and...why?

The post "Link?" that appears on the live forum (or used to, haven't used it for a year or so) is often answered in seconds with three or four links.

Not only that, but it means you're not paying anything to a venal, dog's-arse, phone-tapping shit-house like Murdoch.

5 billion plus?

Anyone know how, as every none match-going blue I know never misses a game but none of them are actually paying Murdoch.

Tony Abrahams
32 Posted 16/02/2015 at 18:59:40
I must be in the minority, Eugene, because I hate watching Everton on the telly. I got threwn out the ground at Man City the other week, by a policeman abusing his power, after the stewards didn't like getting told the truth. I thought to myself, "Get used to it, because you can't go on paying those prices for a game that is live on TV.

I haven't travelled since, and although I don't enjoy it as much, I'm glad I haven't had to travel home from our last two night matches in London. Instead of going straight to bed.

Simple solution to the prices would be every fan of a Premier League club, refusing to buy a season ticket this summer, until they have halved the prices. If the fans stuck together and stuck it out, I'm sure the clubs would shit themselves and have to do something about it.

If not, it wouldn't be long before Sky would be forced to go to Germany or Spain and we could get our game back.

Peter Mills
33 Posted 16/02/2015 at 20:53:00
I go to all the home games, a few away, and watch the rest on the big screen at our local gentlemen's club. The best game I've seen this season was Marine v FC United of Manchester, and that was 0-0! There was a cracking atmosphere, a full blooded match, and I had a pint with a United player and his dad afterwards.

I have thought to myself since that I could do that regularly, and as regards loyalty I attended Marine at 3 years of age, before being taken to Goodison. But, as for many of us, Everton are just in my blood. It's a bugger.

Steve Higgins
34 Posted 16/02/2015 at 22:55:24
A friend of mine works for Wigan Athletic. Even before his team were relegated from the Premier League, he lamented the fact that Wigan's membership of this financial elite was conferring no long-term benefit whatsoever for the club or the fans. Wigan's relegation shows how true this is.

How many hundreds of millions of pounds have Everton turned over in the two decades they've had TV money? What benefit have we, the fans, seen as a result? Overpaid players and their agent aside, the answer is — sweet nothing!

We will never be able to compete financially with the richest Premier League teams. So why doesn't our club do something these richer clubs would never do – follow the German model. Let's democratise Everton and let it truly be the People's Club. Slash the ticket prices, fill the ground with kids.

Stephen Daniels
35 Posted 16/02/2015 at 23:03:45
We will be with your mate next season if we carry on playing the way we are.
Colin Glassar
36 Posted 16/02/2015 at 22:55:56
Slashing ticket prices and standing sections (Gwladys st in Everton’s case) would help increase attendance figures and atmosphere Steve.

Even though 90% of fans support this (according to latest figures) the PC brigade will oppose it.

Kieran Riding
37 Posted 17/02/2015 at 00:56:30
We were the "Mersey Millionaires".

Now go and give your head a good wobble.

And get over it.

Lee Courtliff
38 Posted 17/02/2015 at 01:23:07
Eugene, couldn't agree more.

I haven't had Sky since Sep '13. At first I was a bit lost. I'd had this for near enough 20 years. I missed having Goals on Sunday as I was usually out on Saturday night and missed MotD.

Then I discovered the art of 'streaming'. Since then I've never watched as much football since I was a kid!!

Now, it doesn't matter how many times Sky show us because I watch every single one of our games for, in a sense, 'free'. Granted, the pic ain't great and it can stutter but it's still preferable to paying 㿲 a month to Murdoch.

I don't understand why more people don't do it? Especially seeing as the likes of Everton are hardly on Sky anyway.

Joe Green
39 Posted 17/02/2015 at 04:54:22
The danger for the EPL (and Sky) is that it becomes an obviously uncompetitive staged event, like a multi-player version of Saturday wrestling. Then fans and TV viewers will drift away.

Someone mentioned the NFL's TV money being billions per year. Well the NFL is extremely well run (IMHO) and tries very hard to maintain a clean NFL brand which is competitive for all clubs, with salary caps, drafts, squad limits, weighted fixture lists, etc., etc.. If only the EPL had the balls for a salary cap, we'd have money for a stadium straightaway.

As for referees, it's obvious to me that they are left high and dry by the EPL, because the money clubs like it that way. All other professional sports use technology extensively to take the pressure off the referee on the pitch. Money clubs in football are not interested because they know they can influence, intimidate and perhaps even bribe the referee. Just that one relatively poorly paid, no image, middle-aged man puffing around the park makes decisions that have multi-million (billions maybe) impacts. Sure I'd love that situation if I had the power to influence even in a small way.

The other elephant in the room is that the money clubs are allowed to play in two leagues (EPL and CL). Can't imagine the NFL allowing anything similar. But there is a tension between the two. If EPL gets all the money (and it's not just Sky money, it's all the advertising too) then eventually CL will fall in significance or vice versa.

Things can and do change. Often very unexpectedly. So I'll keep supporting the Blues and hope!

Brian Hill
40 Posted 17/02/2015 at 05:22:56
Steve Higgins @34, is your Wigan employed friend named Walling by any chance?

Colin, your comment about cricket and golf being boring reminds me of just about the only humorous moment of the OJ trial. One of the witnesses, when asked something about American Football, said that she didn't watch and found it boring. Judge Ito, in response, said: "Wait till you see baseball".

Laurie Hartley
41 Posted 17/02/2015 at 09:25:28
Has anyone ever seen a 0-0 draw in a cricket match?
Phil Walling
42 Posted 17/02/2015 at 10:22:18
Laurie, I think Somerset once declared on 0-0 when wishing to sacrifice a 50 overs game to Worcestershire for some obscure reason. Their captain was disciplined by the TCB and they were thrown out of the competition.

Bad form, old boy!

Laurie Hartley
43 Posted 17/02/2015 at 20:19:43
Phil you are a mine of information. That's stumped me for a comeback.

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