Has Football Lost Touch With Its Roots?

With the news that all Premier League clubs are to start using goal line technology and the new money entering the Premier League as of next season, is our ‘beautiful game’ losing touch with those who make it great; the fans.

Since the inception of the Premier League in 1992 it cannot be argued that the quality of English football has improved, with the vast audiences from all around the world wanting to watch our league at ludicrous hours of the morning, but this has been due to the influx of foreign talent made possible by the money these clubs have received.

Gone are the days when the money fans paid on the gates funded their teams with the television rights the Premier League clubs get, doing that, or in some cases that hasn’t even been enough.

Players therefore have lost touch, with the vast amount of them from abroad, some perhaps don’t even understand the values of the club crest the carry on their chest each and every week.

But has this money ruined football?

The news that came out today is that the FA Cup that will be played on 11th May has had the kick-off pushed back to 5.15pm.

This may only seem like a minor tweat to fans of other sports or people with little or no interest in football whatsoever but within the English game with fans who understand the game it’s massive.

The FA Cup is the pinnacle of what the FA has to offer; it is their competition.

The FA Cup has been the competition for the underdog, something Brits love to see with many giant-killing happening down the years if that be Hereford vs Newcastle in 1972 or Wrexham vs Arsenal in 1992 to name but a few. The underdog has even gone all the way and won the trophy as Wimbledon did when they beat the country’s most successful side, at the time, Liverpool in 1988.

Since 1992 money has flooded into the game and this once historic trophy with traditional values has seemed to lose its gloss and appeal.

The major turning point was in January 2000 when holders Manchester United withdrew from their defence of the cup as they were more willing to participate in the World Club Championship in China and concentrate on their league and Champions League defences, two competition that also had a higher financial reward to them.

This season though the FA Cup has had a bit of a renaissance in the FA’s 150 anniversary. Its old sense of being a true cup competition with anyone able to beat anyone on their day has been restored with Blue Square Bet side Luton who in the 4th round knocking out Premier League side Norwich one-nil at Carrow Road. As well as finalists Wigan who albeit play Premier League football have got to their first Wembley final and FA Cup final as well as playing European football for the first time next season(showing what a giant killing has come to be when a side from the top division is classed a minnow).

All of this shows that the character and legend of the FA Cup is still alive and kicking even if the competition has only featured a side out of the top division twice in the last twenty years.

With the FA Cup restoring its values this season many would have liked to have seen the final played on the last day of the season, after the league campaigns had finished, as use to be the case when families could sit down on a Saturday afternoon in May to enjoy the big game, one of a handful that would feature on television, even those without an allegiance to a team or even the sport may watch the game however there are still another set of fixtures to be played the week after the FA Cup, as well as the Sunday the day after.

Nowadays with a live game on everyday of the week in some weeks, this is no longer the case and the television companies are dictating when this game is played. The responsibility perhaps does not even lie in the hands of the FA.

The game has become so big and is televised all over the world that it is those companies who decide when it is played not the fans, who with their ticket money and attendance at games use to dictate when games were played.

It is the big sponsorships that pay for clubs to run and players to play nowadays something the modern day fan has lost, and means the fans have to fit into the companies’ plans for when games are played.

How sustainable is the money in football for those who aren’t in the top division? With all the Premier League clubs being instructed to get goal line technology, what is left for those lower down the leagues?

Premier League clubs can afford it and with the extra money coming in from the new television deal commencing for the 2013-14 season players wages and transfer fees may rise too, although FIFA are trying to employ and Financial Fair Play rule, which seems it can be bypassed with extra television money and sponsorships.

We will be set to see English football sell its soul. Many clubs have already sold naming rights to grounds and many more will follow, the FA has given in to selling its final, the pinnacle of what they offer, as well as giving clubs the chance to play semi-finals, as well as the final at Wembley, neglecting old traditional grounds as they try to recover the cost of the new stadium.

The clubs lower down the divisions will no longer be able to compete.

Those relegated from the Premier League will still have much larger budgets to spend than those in the same division with their parachute payments meaning sides promoted to the Championship via League 1 will be constantly in a battle to balance their books and stay in that division rather than look for another promotion, like Norwich and Southampton have done in recent years.

Perhaps the money that has bankrolled the Premier League and English football is now having the opposite effect with lower league clubs unable to pay players wages because as much as they have inflated at the top it has a knock on effect and clubs lower down also see their wage bills rise, but without the same sponsorship and television money they find it impossible to pay their players and compete.

Portsmouth were almost declared out of business last week, but have been saved by their fans, but how long can that be for? Fellow League 1 strugglers Bury, who have never been anywhere near the Premier League, declared last week they need £1 million to stay in business showing the knock-on effect of the rising cost of football.

Preston North End summed this mentality up last week declaring it “them and us” stating the Premier League does not care about the Football League and there clubs.

With many clubs already facing financial difficulties it makes you wonder how bad this knock-on effect will be for the Football League and their clubs as the inflation filters down.

It may all be rosy at the top of the English football pyramid but as the game seems to become more and more reliant on television rights over the fans, it seems to be losing touch and many people’s livelihoods of following one of the 72 Football League could be in jeopardy.

The new money coming into the game may only make the rich richer and the poor poorer and leave the game to sell off more of its tradition and values.

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