Why a football blog?
Despite the shock triumph of Leicester City in 2015/16, the new Premier League season appears to be one whose modus operandi is the restoration of the status quo. The minimalist, app-friendly new logo of the organisation neatly sums up a new campaign in which the two biggest transfers of the summer are representative of a millennial appreciation of football. Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic represent the power of the individual over the club; eye-watering sums are paid not merely for the talent the player undoubtedly possesses, but for the future revenue streams that will be driven by the attraction of overseas fans of the player himself. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are of course the original kings of their brands; we may be witnessing Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s last playing years, but Paul Pogba’s status as superstar has not yet reached its zenith.
The international fan following individuals to whichever superclub they move is a sad but clear indication of the average person’s inability to afford to witness local football, which due to demographics would likely be a top-level city-based team. Furthermore, the Blatter generation’s incessant information overload by elite teams has driven a wedge between the 1% of players, clubs and infrastructure (CR7 etc…) and the remainder, who are the real representation of what makes the beautiful game the most popular sport in the world.
A football fan coming of age in 2016 is prone to believe that only six teams have been crowned champions of England, and raises no eyebrows at the prospect of Derby County losing a league match at Burton Albion. I fear that in the next few years English football will have a concrete league structure in which the TV riches afforded to the Premier League clubs are so much to prevent any drop below the mid-Championship, while a rethought lower league system (League 3) will lead to an ever more complicated struggle for smaller teams to ‘do a Bournemouth’.
Fans will know nothing of the time in very recent history when Stockport County were on the verge of promotion to the Premier League while their neighbours Manchester City sat in the third tier; the idea of a top division consisting of 25–30 teams which compete for the title, Europe, relegation and promotion each season will be set in stone, with the rest of the professional teams competing to reach the Championship, whilst humiliatingly playing the ‘B’ teams of their esteemed betters. The information age in which we live has the capability to teach of one hundred and fifty years of football history, yet all too often interest lies more in betting in-play on the number of corners in the second half.
I know full well that the standard of football today is better than in the past; this is not a blog of bitter nostalgia for an idealised place which did not exist. Spectacular goals scored in the next El Clasico still deserve praise, however football’s enduring popularity lies, amongst other things, in its ease of access: essentially you only need a ball to play. Yet now more than ever the younger generation is disconnected from the top level game in England; participation rarely goes beyond a screen. I aim to simply highlight aspects of football, usually based around an interesting image, often from an internationalist perspective and perhaps with a lower-level focus that the mainstream media regularly chooses to omit.