The Premier League is King? You’re having a laugh

The controversy stirred by Niall Quinn over stayaway, see-it-in-the-pub supporters, quickly followed by his candid admission that Sunderland AFC are not serious Premier title challengers, set Jeremy Robson thinking. Where the thought process led him is not calculated to please those for whom English football sits at the top of the world …

The Emperor’s underpants are looking shabby.

We’ve been told the English Premier League is the best in the world. As much as we all love the league and our teams that participate in it, as well as the premier league betting that comes with it, to call it the very best league in the world may be a slight over-exaggeration at this point.

Commentators and summarisers wax lyrical over games which barely stir the pulse. Millions of pounds are handed over with little thought for not even mediocre players who really couldn’t justify a place in the car park, let alone the starting XI.

The working man’s theatre (just how long is it since you heard that term?) has become the preserve of the middle class with ticket prices spiralling in a way that can only be matched by the price of a litre of unleaded. I can’t blame Gaddafi for the decline in interest that I have begun to experience in recent years, and which appears to be shared by many more lifelong fans than I ever could realise.

As a boy, I dreamed that Sunderland would eventually challenge for domestic honours with stadiums constantly bursting at the seams as we went on to conquer Europe too. OK so it’s time for a reality check.

Niall Quinn has acknowledged that we will never be able to compete to win the league. This is a strange comment from a chairman who has turned the club’s fortunes around in unprecedented fashion in a remarkably short period of time. His latest comments follow from those “despise” remarks of his in recent weeks.

To determine whether he sees the two issues as related, you would have to ask him directly.

Following our move to the SoL, 20,000 people developed an interest in football as the result of a venue change. This remains completely mystifying to me, as it did at the time. Of the additional 20,000 that appeared a decade and a half ago to watch Sunderland, there are now 6,000 down the pub if Mr Quinn’s estimates are reasonable, with the remaining 14,000 still turning up at the turnstiles.

The reality is that in the current climate of football which is driven more than ever by money via the cartel known as the Premier League the number of candidates for the top spot remain virtually unchanged since Leeds Utd won the title preceding the beginning of real English football (as some seem to see it) in the early 90s).

The Premier League was designed to maintain the status quo, to the extent that those who even fall from the crumb chasing seats at the fat cats’ table face the prospect of financial meltdown at worst or an uncertain future at best.

If we can summarise the reasons for widespread disenchantment with the modern game, you can put overpaid, wastrel players to one side for a moment. The Premier League has devalued competition as the only real contest is sorting out the order of the top four to six each season.

The rest are just scrapping to avoid relegation. Finishing mid table may guarantee that the coffers are filled again next season, but it’s really just downright dull, particularly when the expectation for the following season and the year after that remains the same. Dull as bloody dishwater. It almost makes you wish for another relegation scrap that you can really get your teeth into.

The owners of West Ham (described elsewhere on Salut! Sunderland by the Sixer as pornographers) have never been known to miss a trick and have elevated our end of season game to the A list despite the fact that the likelihood is that the home side will be scrapping it out to survive against a side comfortably in mid table with little to play for.

You will get some change out of 50 quid for the privilege of watching this in the flesh. The football that people over a certain age grew up with was all about dreams. Without the dream of challenging to be the best, there’s really not that much to play for, and the public have started to cotton on.

The FA Cup is a dead man who won’t lie down, and the PL is the crucible in which collective souls have been stored my Mephistopheles. A good cup run used to help league attendances and winning a cup meant something.

Sadly, no longer. Watching the best of English football used to be a treat. Most of the time these days, it can send me to sleep. The Premier League. It’s really just not what it’s cracked up to be.

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6 thoughts on “The Premier League is King? You’re having a laugh”

  1. I couldn’t agree more CSB. I haven’t watched European games for several years. To be perfectly honest I would much rather watch say Sheffield Utd v Watford than these Champions League matches. I just don’t feel that any of this has much to do with the average fan any more.

    I used to want just about every English side to do well. I’ve never supported the Mags in Europe mind!

    It’s become increasingly difficult for home grown players to get a game at ANY level of the game, as the number of imports from all over the globe are present even in the lower divisions and non-league now. Hence the national team (which I also care less than ever about), suffers.

  2. Nothing above is untrue and I would not disagree with any of the points.

    However it is all is really quite simple, the EPL equals sterility in that the league is controlled by a few who jumped on the money bandwagon , teams lack passion and money rules the roost. Additonally, there are few local stars for the support to identify with and this just leads to the general feeling of despondancy.

    There are more games on TV than ever before, but like Jeremy, I find little incentive to watch and that goes for league and European competion.

    The ‘Soul’ has gone and been replaced by greed. I remember supporting any’British’ club in Eurpoe and wanting them to win, but now if I really do not care. Arsenal V Bacelona, who cares , two teams full of foreign imports ( although Barca have more home bread players).

    All this lack of passion and lack of home bred palyers is reflected in England’s latest (London picked) failings.

    Things have to change!

  3. Good points, Jeremy and I agree with much of it. Do I enjoy the football experience from my sanitised seat in the East Stand as much as I enjoyed the push and shove of the Clock Stand Paddock? No. Do I see a better quality of football now? Yes. I suppose advancing years make the old days seem better – maybe in 30 years time, grown men will wax nostalgic about Anton Ferdinand or Lee Cattermole as we do about those heroes of our younger days.
    Marco for Gyan? Probably would unless Asamoah can roll the ball past Harper as convincingly as Marco did against Fat Burridge on that wonderful night 21 years ago!!!

  4. Pete. The issue is not whether the current crop of players is better per se; it’s whether it’s more enjoyable to watch them. I’m far from convinced that it is. You can’t go saying anything about John MacPhail, when he scored 15 goals from centre half in a single season. I loved watching him, at that level, and I know for a fact that you did too! The opposition are better too, and as someone who enjoys watching football at all levels, the mistakes that occur in lower leagues make the game attractive. The failings and flaws provide humour, entertainment and talking points. That’s what’s gone missing.

    Keith. I couldn’t agree more. Supply has outstripped demand. I can watch pretty much any game that I want to watch from the PL in full over the weekend. I am better informed about the opposition than I ever was. I find though, quite remarkably that I am watching less and less. Games get recorded every weekend that are deleted, unwatched by the following weekend. There are other things to do, than watch all this football. The only game that I make sure I see is ours. Most of the channels are in HD and you can see stuff go on that you would never see live at a game.

    BTW Pete. Wouldn’t you swap Gyan for Marco at his peak in a heartbeat?

  5. The problem is oversupply, in South Africa we were starved of sport for years either live or on TV the bokke were reckoned to be the best in the world but no one would play them, the Proteas believed something similar. Then the flood gated opened, the stadia were full the sports mad nation were now allowed to watch international sport for the first time (some in their Lives) From a time when we had sell outs at provincial games we no longer fill up the grounds at international level unless it is top class opposition. Frankly now with HD television its better to watch the game on TV. Cricket for example with hawkeye super slow mo etc makes it worthwhile to stay at home. The EPL is similar in the sense that fare changes from week to week, consider Sunderland Chelsea and followed by Blackpool Stoke. There is just too much of a variance to keep every body interested all the time

  6. When it (the Premier League) is good, it’s very,very good and when it’s bad it’s like going back to the 70’s and 80’s but with players earning substantially more. It has many qualities and some very fine players; we even have one who is a real pleasure to watch in Gyan and even the “ordinary” players like Bardsley, Turner and Malbranque are far, far better than the likes of Mick Buckley, Steve Whitworth and John McPhail.
    We are told by Murdoch Media that all the football is great. There is never a bad match on pay TV or on terrestial as companies need to talk the game up in order to get people to watch.
    The two FA Cup games on ITV this weekend were poor; Manchester United’s mix and match XI beat Arsenal’s throwing away the trophies XI in a game that wasn’t a patch on the Darlington v Gateshead game I had seen on the afternoon. Stoke v West Ham was little better than a hoof fest – but Messrs. Tyldesley and Brackley made both sound the equivalent of Real Madrid v Eintracht Frankfurt c. 1960.
    Having said all that, do we really want to be like Coventry City (10 managers in 10 years), Middlesbrough (on their uppers) or Sheffield Wednesday (on a one way ticket to Palookaville).? Thought not.
    Keep the Faith, Jeremy!!

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