Tuesday, February 12, 2008

United to play Liverpool in a parallel universe...

Some say he's from a another planet - others know him as Mr Portsmouth Football Club. It's feared that die-hard fans like Mr Portsmouth could fall victim to Screwtheemore's grand Globalisation plans...

United and Liverpool supporters have been shocked at the news that their beloved clubs could be set to play an end of season game at an as of yet unnamed destination, all we know is that it will probably be somewhere along the 39th parallel.

Many fans of these football institutions spend a huge chunk of their disposable income following their respective clubs' and for many cash-strapped supporters this additional game might as well be played in a parallel universe as it represents a match too far.

The idea of the additional 39th game is the brain-child of supremo Richard Screwtheemore, who insists that 'everyone will benefit' under what will become known henceforth as 'Globalisation', though Screwtheemore has yet to address the concerns of the paying public.

The thing is, for more than a century English football has largely been for the benefit of the fans who have paid the players wages, that will be the oiks like us who have for better or worse, filled our stadiums, week-in, week-out, come rain or shine.

However, if Screwtheemore and his Globalisation plan ever sees the light of day, fans such as John Westwood, AKA Mr Portsmouth wont be able to fund a trip to far flung destinations such as Korea, that means supporters will miss out on hearing those famous Pompey Chimes from his accompanying bell.

Word has it that some fans are already planning to fund a one way ticket for Mr Portsmouth Football Club. Personally, I'm hoping that they will also fund one-way trips for all the members of that god awful Sheffield Wednesday band and any other drum bashing and trumpet blowing ****s. Which just goes to show that good can come out of even the most ill-conceived and ridiculous ideas. Could Globalisation turn out to be a good thing after all?

Just say NO to game 39


  1. I don't see why English fans are complaining, a lot of the promotional fees and a lot of the promotional support has come from Asia and around the world. Besides, it is an Additional game, not a game taken away.
    However, I object to it on the basis of a detrimental effect to Japanese, Korean and Chinese leagues.
    Maybe for India, considering the fourth or fifth-rank status of the game here. It might be good enough to increase the standing of the game.

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  3. Wait a second here, I'm a huge Man U fan here in the states. One of these days I hope to come watch a game at Old Trafford, but since my work coincides with the football season, it may never happen.

    I and many others here in the States that cannot afford to go see their team in England. We'd love to have the opportunity here. I got to see Aston Villa dominate Toronto FC and I was stunned by AV's speed, even though they played down to TFC's level some. A full speed EPL game is I'm sure amazing to watch live.

    I guess what I'm saying is I don't see how you lose. Yes, there's a game you don't get to go to, but it's an additional game. Fans of the Dolphins and Giants did not complain when they played in Wembley this year, other than specific game related issues (such as would the jet lag hurt a team even with the bye week following, the answer was no, it would not hurt a team with a bye week). But it is in any business's best interest to expand its market.

    Fox Soccer Channel does a great job of expanding the EPL here. We get a significant number of EPL games live here, though it's not enough and we have few options. This is a move that makes perfect sense to improve the strength of what is probably the best football in the world. Just because you're the best, does not mean you should not try to improve.

    Rob Howell
    Columbia, MO, USA

  4. The only people who want this to happen are the money men. I have yet to speak to a match-going fan who thinks this is a good idea, and that is key in my opinion. For all the talk of untapped markets in places like the Far East, these fans do not contribute to clubs like United. Apart from attending the odd promotional summer tour game on a one off basis. Some English fans follow their club throughout the season, home and away. These fans could now be forced to find the extra cash to fund this extra game. And when will this 39th game be played?
    The idea is a very bad one all round and I hope that FIFA gift it short shrift, but whenever there's a chance for palms to be greased and deals to be done (or as Screwtheemore put it 'hurdles to be overcome') anything is possible.

    The detrimental effect on these smaller leagues is another consideration that FIFA will into account.

    Exactly what Blatter does next will be interesting for all concerned. He has pretty much kept his powder dry until now, which isn't very encouraging.

  5. Rob,

    I can understand fans in the US wanting to see United play, I was over there for the duration of the Reds 2003 tour - did you see them play then? Anyway, sure enough United games will sell out if they play stateside or for that matter in South Korea too, but so did the Harlem Globetrotters games when they came to England. These games are one off circus affairs.

    This latest big idea could impact on the whole league, I have no problem with summer games at the season end.

    So it's all well and good US fans telling us it's a good idea, but at no point in any of the stories/discussions so far has Screwtheemore or anyone else in authority mentioned the interests of home based fans - and that's because this isn't about home based fans interests, it's about the pursuit of more money, plain and simple. To that end, if the USA doesn't come up with the best deal, American fans will be overlooked too in preference to say South Korea...

    There's no evidence to suggest that playing live league games abroad will enhance the Premier League (it hasn't happened before), while at the same time there must be a danger that it could harm leagues like the MLS.

    Out of interest how many US fans would actually turn up to see Birmingham City play Derby County? Not many I'd venture.

    IF and it's a big IF, this goes ahead and let us say that for arguments sake the games are staged in the USA, when the crowds do not show up for Spurs v Vila , then the whole thing will be made to look exactly what it is, a flawed money grabbing exercise, a sham.

    Out of interest, how much do you pay to watch live soccer over in the US, that's assuming that you don't just watch on tv?

    I'm not getting too hot under the collar about it because it wont happen IMO.

  6. I guess what I'm saying is that if the NFL, which is a ridiculously well run sporting institution feels it profitable to the league to play real games overseas, why would it not be profitable for the EPL as a whole to play real games overseas?

    And for the fans of NFL teams it's a situation where a game that would be played here is played elsewhere, not as in the EPL idea where this is an additional game that takes nothing away from the English fans, they still get 38 per team there.

    I see you say that it's a money-grubbing ploy, but here's my position on that.

    First, of course it is, but aren't all professional sports matches money grubbing ploys? I mean, is the price of a pint at Old Trafford about the same at your good pub? Or is it about double? Tell me they don't nickel and dime you on every little thing they can like parking or programs or whatever else.

    Second, from our perspective, right now we're getting a sham of a money grubbing ploy. When AV played TFC they were just too fast for TFC, though TFC was spirited and plucky. AV just sort of played through the motions.

    Third, I seem to recall paying something like $50 Canadian per ticket, but that was only because TFC season ticket holders got a major price break. The U-21 World Cup games were significantly more, but that was last summer and I can't recall exactly how much they were because I've slept since then but I'm thinking I paid about $100 US for what ended up being 4 tickets (2 for 2 games). I would say I'm a middling to devout football fan, and certainly don't have a ton of wealth to spend, but I did pay for that.

    Fourth, given the large variety of EPL gear I see floating around, there's goodly interest in a lot of teams. It would not surprise me if some of those lesser matchups do better than you think, we're Americans, we generally root for the underdog :). I personally became a Man U fan 20 years ago because it pissed off a good friend from Nottingham :), not knowing anything really about English football at the time.

    Sixth, At the TFC-AV match, there was obviously a ton of AV gear, and just as expected a lot of big four gear, but I also seem to recall some Blackburn, Everton, Portsmouth, and definitely some Tottenham gear and probably some others I didn't notice. Also, there was a ton of gear from throughout the football world. The point here being that games in places like LA, New York, Toronto, Chicago, Dallas would do very well because they'd draw not only the fans of the team but of the game. I wouldn't be surprised if you saw decent attendances in other markets like DC, KC, Houston, Seattle. Heck I see a lot of EPL and foreign football gear here at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

    Seventh, I'm a little confused at what the loss is for the English fan. Yes, there's a game he can't go to. But it's not one taken away from him. What are the other drawbacks? What exactly, are some of the other problems? Why would, for example, starting the EPL season a week earlier with foreign games, or intersplicing them throughout the season, negatively affect the teams and players when they consistently throughout the season already travel across Europe and the world to play Cup matches, regional matches, and friendlies as it stands?

    What is the difference, I guess I'm saying, between a UEFA game in Milan to the English fan, a game that would also require significant extra expense to attend, than an EPL game in New York? There's no way that the average English fan can afford to go to every League and Cup match right now, is there?

    Oh, by the way, I'm a long-winded bastard, in case that somehow escaped your notice at this point :)


  7. The fact that 20 club chairman and the premier league are all in agreement means it will happen. Money talks and given that a sizeable chunk of the league is foreign owned, you didn't just expect these guys to settle for some domestic TV rights, and ticket sales did you? This was on from the moment Abramovich turned up at Chelsea. It's football in the 21st Century. As an expat living in the USA, I see first-hand the level of interest in the game over here. There are 3 dedicated football channels, and I can watch every premier league game live or delayed every weekend. The only problem I have with game 39 is the timing. I would not play it in January. I would make it the first game of the season. That way it would have the least impact on the season which should satisfy the traditionalists, while giving fans outside the UK a competitive game rather than a friendly. It should not be too hard to organize since most clubs are on tour at that time anyway. What's wrong with Man Utd starting their season off in South Africa after playing several friendlies down there? Playing it in January makes no sense to me as I agree it will interfere too much with structure of the competition. Bottom line is it will happen. It will bring additional revenue to the clubs, and that in turn will attract the best players so there is upside.

  8. Rob - another long winded bastard replies.

    1) Yes we agree here. But, fans over here are being increasingly fleeced by the likes of the Glazers'. The point being that fans from traditional working-class backgrounds are becoming disenfranchised, many can no longer afford to go to home games. This move, while being just about money, will be rightly seen as taking OUR game further away from it's traditional supporter base. Kicking off the new season in LA, might be great for the minority of residents of who follow soccer in Tinsel Town, but imagine what sort of signal that would send out to the most important fans in the world (i.e. those who continue to contribute the lions share of Utd's revenue - the match going fan).

    2) That's an entirely different argument/scenario.

    3) It sounds like you paid $25 per ticket for all games if I'm reading your reply correctly, which would equate to the prices we paid for a seat circa 1985.
    Would you pay $88 for a seat as my son did yesterday to watch a game?

    Assuming that this goes ahead, the question remains, how profitable will this venture turn out to be given the Premier League will want to make any games look like a success (the PL will want to see full stadiums wont they)?

    The big four clubs should ALWAYS attract enough $$$ and paying numbers, but will the lesser clubs? Also, do not forget that any revenues will have to split between the host venue owners + the clubs concerned. This third party isn't currently apart of the PL business model where the match day revenue is carved up by the two clubs and the PL. Have they really done their numbers?

    4) See above because I remain unconvinced, but when I was over in the US in 2003. We saw the Reds play in Seattle, LA, New York and Philadelphia. At those games we did see a smattering of old replica shirts for English clubs, but it was only a smattering. I remain seriously unconvinced about the numbers. As I have said repeatedly the whole thing seems like a bad idea. FIFA want to see leagues like the PL playing fewer games and not more, as would no doubt the UEFA.

    Regarding your point about 'Gear', do you actually see fans wearing 'official merchandise's or is it what we term as 'snide shirts'? While this may seem like I'm knit-picking point, it is a very important one. Here's why. These so called marketing experts at clubs like United kept on going on about this so called untapped market in ASIA, so the club then opened a chain of United branded cafes in the Far East, hey ho, not long after they shut them all down. The club then tried to close down all these factories in the Far East who manufacture these snide replica shirts (anyone with a brain would have realised this was another fruitless task). Snide replica shirts can be seen in every popular holiday resort across Europe and they are available for buttons. Any Tom, Dick and Harry can slip on a cheap/tacky nylon shirt and swear his or her allegiance to United. Stumping up a huge portion of your disposable income every week is another matter entirely.

    UK based fans DO pay up £50 for an official replica shirt. What other fans would do that? And what I'm driving at is this. The fans in the UK pay through the nose for tickets, TV subs and official merchandise. So the interests of these fans have to come first EVERY TIME.

    You Reds in the US don't get an opportunity to watch Utd, so you watch it on TV. But do you honestly buy the clubs official merchandise? (It’s all s***e by the way is my view and I wouldn't be seen dead in shirt unless I was playing - though I do occasionally sleep in a United top :0).

    So to summarise, there's an awful lot of reasons why this proposal is flawed ranging from the fact that there's already too many games to my general view that the English game should largely be for the benefit of the PL clubs most loyal customers. Added to which, I'm not convinced that it would be more profitable than playing another home league for United or Arsenal which in terms of match-day revenue equates £3.5m with TV money on top.... and here's the rub, assuming FIFA and UEFA agree that there's already too many games. So the only way this could ever happen is to somehow lose some existing games and at that point the whole thing collapses like a house of cards.

  9. FAO of ANON.

    See my reply to Rob.

    But just to re-emphasise this point about when to slot in this game 39. As you right say, January isn't a good time, there's the FA cup to consider. Then there's the beginning of the season. Think about this option seriously.

    Clubs already embark on their own pre-season money grabbing summer tours. Only this week, Fergie has been to South Africa ahead of a summer tour on a PR mission. The reality is the clubs take part in these tours for the benefit of expanding their brand, but then they return home for the final pres-season warm-up games before the real event the on the opening day of the new season, which by tradition is one of the big sporting highlights of our sporting calendar. There's no way that this traditional opening day to the new season will be kickig-off at 10 different cities across the globe. Screwtheemore knows this full well too. More likely, they will try to work in games in January, because this will be viewed as the avenue of least opposition where timing is concerned. It still will not happen IMO because of the reasons above.

  10. I miscommunicated my amounts. The 25pound amount was a special deal for the AV-TFC friendly that only went to Fan Club/Season Ticket Holders that I weaseled in on. The other games were at least 50pounds.

    For me to come watch a game at Old Trafford would cost me, including travel, what something like 1000pounds? The only thing that prevents me from having stripped my savings to this point is that grad school conflicts with taking that time off. Someday I'll make that trip, though, so yeah, I'd spend 88pounds on a ticket if they were here. :)

    As to gear, I was referring to officially licensed stuff and 50pound jerseys, not cheap cheesy knockoff crap that I hate too :)

    Do I have a ManU jersey to wear? No, but only because they don't offer jerseys to long-winded bastards to are also FAT long-winded bastards ;) Otherwise I'd love to have jersey.



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