Football stands on the brink

PUBLISHED: 13:17 09 February 2008 | UPDATED: 15:24 10 September 2010

Ian Russell, Capital Canaries

Pioneering decision makers and ambitious thinkers and doers kick started the great tradition and culture that is now our national game. I'm sure we owe these people, doubtlessly many of them unsung, a great credit.

Pioneering decision makers and ambitious thinkers and doers kick started the great tradition and culture that is now our national game. I'm sure we owe these people, doubtlessly many of them unsung, a great credit. But as football in this country (entwined now as it is with pots of money, TV rights and sponsorship deals) evolves towards the next generation, I think we need to be highly guarded and sufficiently suspicious of the latest Premier League brainwave - namely playing League matches overseas.

We shouldn't be surprised at the news of the big plans. After all, the Premier League has surely far exceeded any of the original aspirations at its conception some 15 or so years ago and the big guys and executives must feel that the brand can take them wherever they want to be.

Sadly, I fear the people that really matter (the fans) will be powerless in any decision that is made. They'll give supporters groups some lip service of course, but ultimately if the numbers add up it'll happen. Will the American owners at Liverpool or Manchester United care about the potentially damaging consequences the precedent will set? Of course they won't; they'll be right behind it.

Maybe I should take the Dr Rowan Williams route and simply concede that the reality of this next money-spinning idea is inevitable? Isn't it just tragically ironic that the news has broken at the same time as AFC Bournemouth are reported to be the next club to slip into administration.

My biggest concern is that (as with most of these money-driven ideas by the nation's footballing hierarchy) what we are actually talking about is no more than the thin end of the wedge. Slowly, slowly over the past few years, we've seen increasingly more top flight games move from the traditional kick-off times in order to suit TV schedules. How often do Liverpool or Manchester United play at 3pm on a Saturday?

It wouldn't take five minutes to fill both sides of a sheet of A4 with a list of reasons why this latest idea is not a good one. Regrettably though, I reckon arguments won't count a jot if the chief execs and big knobs want it enough. If they do, it will happen.

So are we are staring down the barrel of seeing the heart finally and totally ripped out of our lovely game? As exciting and innovating as the ideas may be perceived, this new venture would dilute anything that remains unique about English football and consequently change it forever. I think we're standing on the brink with this one; let's hope they can come to their senses.

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