Date: 15th February 2008 at 6:26pm
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A fat Swiss bloke saved the world this week.

A fat Swiss bloke saved the world this week.

It never ceases to amaze me, the amount of shit people will buy. It never ceases to amaze me, the amount of shit I will buy. And of course, when we are not buying shit we are selling shit. Britain is, after all, a nation of shopkeepers. But despite the innate sense of superiority of the public-school types who broker some of the bigger deals, we have been known to indulge in a bit of hornswaggling, in our time, if Johnny foreigner is not quite on the ball. One of the best examples is the Americans who were sold London Bridged, when they thought they were getting Tower Bridge. We even traded Manhattan for Suriname, with the Dutch, which wasn’t a bad piece of business either. And, didn’t Cecil Rhodes try and buy half of Africa for a turnip and a portrait of Queen Victoria?

Sadly, since the Empire had the audacity to lower the Union flag and take their countries back, we have run out of captive markets and no matter how we threaten the Chinese they just won’t take our opium these days. Its a bastard, so by necessity everything is now up for sale. Now, I know for certain that the Americans would love to buy the Queen and we could throw in Phil to keep her company – they would love that. Charging our colonial cousins to drift past her on a conveyor-belt, at fifty bucks a pop, like they did for the Mona Lisa; she could write her own ticket. But, no-can-do, we ain’t selling and she wouldn’t be keen – one doesn’t like to be gawped at. Most Americans haven’t seen a proper British royal since Quentin Crisp died.

Anne Hathaway’s cottage would be a goer too but the idea that the Premiership has such appeal, seems to be stretching it a bit. Apart from the certifiably deranged, how many foreigners are there, who would pay big money to sit through Birmingham City versus Derby County? They can’t find many locals willing to sit through the ordeal, so why would any self-respecting citizen from a distant land think it promised an occasion for boundless fun and frolics. Only drooling idiots or true Blue noses, need apply (sorry, that’s a tautology). But why pick on Blues, there’s any number of shite teams in the Premiership.

£20m (4x£5m) seems like an awful lot to pay for the privilege.

Even when not on a promise, I have to admit that Saturday nights always ends in a bout of clock-watching during the latter stages of Match Of The Day. There may be two or three games of note (Villa naturally) but by the time that last game drably draws to a close, the presenters look only slightly less miserable than their audience of one. There might be a few million Chinamen, who are gagging to see Wayne Looney and Clistiano Lonaldo, but the lest of the clap? I don’t think so – wok a road of borrocks.

It seems a bit of a grand delusion to imagine that foreign audiences would want to watch teams they have no sympathy for, slog out a scrappy nil-nil draw, while playing at a standard not much higher than their local team. The only real attraction would be to see the big reds and the big blue, show-boating against some desperately crap cannon-fodder from the shit end of the Premiership – thus the suggested seeding.

Okay, there might be a few Australian ex-pats, who need reminding why they left the country in the first place, but I am sure they yearn for drizzle and Marmite, just the same.

Sending the mighty Arse or the Red Devils, would be equivalent to sending the country’s best orchestra on a cultural world tour but sending Sunderland, would be like sending me on a diplomatic karaoke mission, to sing at Carnegie Hall – wars have been started over less. Although I am still open to offers.

But the bottom line is that Randolfo is right – the game is but a minor part of the whole package. I am sure that he will never forget the first time he caught the whiff of a real Brummie. Without the locals, a rubbish team is just a rubbish team but with the locals, it is suddenly a piece of grand and glorious social theatre. Without the locals, its like watching Sophocles, without the smell of sweaty Greeks. Even watching Liverpool, is not the same without having to worry about your car. As far as I am concerned, unless they can arrange to send a horde of locals to provide the bad breath, the beery farts and the constant moaning, I will consider the foreigners are being short changed.

I loved that story, told by that Sheffield United fan, about how her first visit to Bramall Lane. She said she had absolutely no interest in football and only went along because someone asked her. She said that it was not a good match but half way through the game, she just felt an overwhelming sense of fellow-feeling with the rest of the supporters, and just knew that she wanted to always be apart of that forever. She never looked back and she became a total fan, in every meaning of the word. I am sure there are many stories like that and even if it is just the smell of pies and the rank tang of animated Yorkshiremen, it all adds up to magic.

Without that magic, it is just a crap game of football.

What has shocked the fans, has been the eagerness of those who run football, to sell a hundred and twenty years of league tradition down the river for so little. For the big clubs who owe so much (£660m Man U, Arsenal £260m and Liverpool £350+ cost of new stadium), to get so excited over a venture which offers a mere £5m , (2.5% of Arsenal’s £200m turnover and 2% of Man U’s £245m turnover) is frankly amazing. It is a sad indictment of the custodians of our game, that English fans have to depend on foreign associations, to prevent this casual destruction of their game.

It has been a real shame, having to spend my time thinking about the Quisling bastards who run football but I am very grateful to Mr Blatter, and I just hope the rest of the world are too.

Indeed it was a fantastic week for Villa, after they thrashed Newcastle and to the delight of all true claret and blue romantics, Marlon Harewood emerged as a brand new hero for the Villa fans. Gladly, the right to promote such heroes and make legends, still remains within the purview of a select few thousand resident Villans and is not negotiable, for now. Long may it be so, but with only an ageing fat Swiss bloke, standing between us and our heritage being sold to the highest bidder, the rage and the fear will not go away.

So Champagne to Blatter and real pain to Scudamore.


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