I love the British ‘Chicken Little’ syndrome. I mean, everything that is a change may as well be the start of Armageddon. I read the news this morning about the EPL looking to play games overseas with a bit of a smirk on my face. I already knew what my friends in the UK were thinking. It wasn’t long before I got emails and messages on Facebook about how awful this is, how it’s the beginning of the end. How the Yanks are ruining the sport (well, the NFL did play a regular season game at Wembley last Fall).
So, with so many upset British friends on both sides of the pond, what does this Yank do? I wind them up of course. I point out how great it would be to see Ipswich play in Chicago (heck, I’d fly to NY or LA or where ever over here to see them) once they get promoted. Of course, their take was, I was missing the whole point. How this would ruin a perfectly good league (yeah, I’m not sure how perfect a league where only 3 or 4 out of 20 have a chance to win is either) by creating a circus environment. I paraphrased there but you get the gist.
Of course, it would be all about the money. Playing meaningless preseason matches in Japan or Dubai or LA just isn’t getting as much interest from fans because, well, would you pay $50+ to see only a handful of the star players? Having a meaningful, competitive match would force the teams to play their best XI and the fans would get value for their dollar, yen etc.
What surprised me was how they would work this. They’d add another game to the season and everyone would play one extra match in some faroff land. So far, so good. However, the top 5 would get seeded and not have to play each other. Where’s the fun in that? Seriously, you could fill any stadium in the world several times and massive prices if you had Arsenal, Man U, Liverpool or Chelsea play each other. However, the report basically ruled that possibility out?
Here’s my idea on how to make this work. At the end of 18 matches (mid-way point in the season) group the teams by position in the table. Have the top six, middle eight and bottom six clubs in different pots. Draw who plays who. That way you’d have 10 meaningful, competitive matches: how excited would you be to see Arsenal beat up on Reading? There would be 3 clashes of top teams, 3 relegation battles and then four matches of teams either trying to make the UEFA Cup or avoiding a slip into danger. Give the fans in the rest of the world some real value for their money.
Of course, the reason I had the smirk on my face reading the article was that I don’t think they are even close to making this happen. I think the information was fed to the media simply as a ‘trial balloon’ to gage fan reaction. Based on what I’ve read from the Chicken Little’s in the UK, they aren’t too keen on the idea. I haven’t read much from fans like me no longer in the UK. It’ll be interesting to see what happens…but I’m not gonna hold my breath waiting for the official announcement.
BTW, all my friends fell for my wind up. I guess I’ll be buying all my own drinks next time I’m in the UK…but it was worth it.