Monday, September 26, 2005

Monday 5

Five football pundits were asked in the Guardian what five things they would do to improve football. Martin Tyler, commentator for SKY Sports, in a breathtaking degree of short sightedness or loyalty to the company who have caused a lot of the problems listed ‘reduce swearing’ as his number one priority. Still, it made me think, what my five things are:

1. Reduce ticket prices
Reduce tickets means increased demand. Whilst this is often cited as a mechanism for bringing back t’working classes to the game, my reasoning is a little more hard nosed. If a football stadium is simply a backdrop for corporate hospitality or TV entertainment, a full ground makes a much better product.

2. Limit squad sizes
If a club is limited to, say 24-26 players which can be changed and refreshed during the transfer window, a few injuries and suspensions for the top clubs will even things out. This will open up an element of luck to the season. It will also put more focus on managers because chequebooks will not solve all their problems. And it will prevent larger teams from negative buying i.e. buying up talented players to sit on the bench, depriving others from playing them, or buying to ‘enhance our global brand’.

3. Reduce live TV coverage
Or more specifically reduce the amount of Premiership coverage. There are four professional divisions in England, five including the Conference. One live game per division per weekend will allow a majority of games to kick-off 3pm on a Saturday, will increase the coverage of lower league clubs and enhance the build up to the big Premiership game of the weekend.

4. Only the champions get into the champions league
The Champions League has polarised football. Next season Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea will be in the Champions League. So will Real Madrid and Barcelona, AC Milan and Juventus, Bayern Munich, blah de-blah de-blah. The most interesting thing about European qualification is who will come fourth in the Premiership; and even that is getting predictable. Let the champions benefit from the Champions League.

5. Redistribute money throughout the divisions
Wayne Rooney, Michael Essien and Michael Owen cost a combined total of £71 million. Their combined weekly salary could easily top £180,000. Senior professionals in League 2 earn in the region of £40k a year and their clubs are struggling to stay afloat. Not so long ago Watford, Swansea, Oxford and Wimbledon all went from the lower leagues to the top division and did well. There is no realistic chance of that happening at the moment.


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