Thanks to Barney for his article, and thus inspiring mine!
There are many arguments as to how the EPL is good or bad for football, and the only people that can really answer that are the supporters, the fans, and, sorry to say, the people that manage the books. The supporters in the UK that follow the clubs home and away are the ones that have seen the most changes.
I am a newcomer, and a Yank at that, so you can take my opinion or leave it. The quality of EPL play is why I fell in love with English football. The EPL made football accessible to fans the world over.
Many of my friends in the UK told me of the days when the only way to see certain fixtures was to actually be at the grounds. Some of the best and most classic matches have faded into memory because they were never televised, never recorded.
Can you imagine such a thing happened in the 1980s? That is incredible, that in the days Muhammad Ali in the 1960s a boxing match could be seen all over the world from the Philippines. Yet, the best football the world had yet to see in England was unfolding in the 1980s and the only people to see it were those at the grounds?
Maybe it is my colonial way of thinking, we are so spread out in the states it is really hard to hop on a plane to follow the Yankees to California, or Florida for three days, then get back home and pay the bills. I like that I can watch the Yankees, or DC United, or Tottenham play from home or even at the airport.
I am aware of English Football because of the EPL, the availability to watch it on Fox Soccer, Gol TV, ESPN, or Setanta. I want to go the UK because I want to see the clubs play in person. I think it is good for the UK and English football in general. I mean, I know several Yanks that are planning football tours because it is starting to catch on here.
People care about English Football; I was standing on the Metro platform in Washington DC and heard a Boston accent argue about how Leeds United fans are treated, and that is not even the EPL. I have heard people talk about Liverpool and Arsenal in a coffee shop in Alexandria, and when I went home to New Jersey, I heard about Rooney getting sent off.
As far as Managers not given enough time, I think that should not be a factor. EPL-level managers have some of the best people working for them in the world; if they feel they don’t have enough time, they should utilize their staff.
That means delegating some decision making authority. That is why the manager makes the big bucks. It is their ability to manage, to take data from the staff, turn that data into actionable information that drives decision making for the team at the tactical level.
All that means is WIN GAMES. Use people, no one at a club needs a micro manager. If a manager is presiding over every detail, micro managing, he sure is going to be overwhelmed. Can you imagine the amount of information a manager pores over with the staff 24 hours before a game let alone game day?
The common complaint that the players are out of touch with the fans I think is complete hogwash. This is an argument I am getting tired of. How can players be in touch with the fans? They are not going to make the same amount as the average citizen, and that is true of any sport anywhere in the world.
Watching me sit at my desk and write reports is not going to draw a crowd. The player is a star; we like him 'cause he puts them away and is a personality on and off the pitch. Get over it! The superstars are just that; they get paid for the ability to win, to score, to strike, sink holes, hit homers, touchdowns, etc.
The days when the players went to the pub for a pint are over. As a player, why would you want to risk mixing it up with the fans? One minuet hero, and the next a zero.
David Beckham talked in his book about a stalker in his garden, others get death threats, beers thrown at them, spit on, and can you imagine some fan from an opposite club waiting in the wings for the chance to say he punched Rooney in the face while he was downing a pint of lager? I can.
It isn’t safe as much as we would just like to shake the hand of the hero of the day there is always than mental case out there. It isn’t safe.
I know with the availability of matches on the boob tube, people are concerned that with the rising price of tickets that the supporters will stop coming. Do you really believe that? English supporters? The most hardcore supporters on earth? I don’t think that it could happen, and again from this limited Yanks point of view.
This was a question that came up in the 1950s and '60s in the US with Major League Baseball. Attendance was estimated to fall as televisions became more available. Sure, enough attendance did fall, and do you know what happened? It rose again, as the novelty and the economy improved.
People again wanted to see live games. Maybe attendance will fall in the short term in the UK, but don’t discount the effect that the EPL has had in the world market.
I wish my beloved Major League Baseball had the same recognition that the EPL league has, if so, maybe the Yankees could buy even more players to win a World Series.