Given the amount of articles that seem to be popping up in the broadsheets, the tabloids and internet websites about us and in particular Keane its maybe best to have a look at the rest of the football world for a moment and at the same time take our minds off the three game promotion run in.
So just what is going on in the rest of the football world then and are we seeing a further change?
Well the Football Association have managed to fix, I mean have got their wish, for the FA Cup Final that they craved at the “New” Wembley with the top two in the Premiership to meet for the honour of being the first to lift the trophy under that big silver arch (I wonder if McDonalds have come up with an advertising logo yet to link in with their golden arches?) and so in line with their wish they have decided to renege on the promises that more tickets will be available for supporters of the finalists with a paltry 50,000 being split between the two. The cynic in me would suggest that if Blackburn and Watford had reached the final then there wouldn’t be 40,000 tickets being held back for the corporate and FA blazers. Of course it is of no surprise at all to see that the price of the tickets start at £35, the most expensive seats are £90, which is “competitive” according to the FA bigwigs. These being the same people who managed to make a mockery of the rebuilding of Wembley and going hundreds of millions over budget (as well as years behind schedule) so they are perfectly placed to discuss getting value for money.
No change there then.
At least UEFA seems to be finally making some decisions that are based on more the morals and traditions of the game rather than simply being obsessed by money. The most obvious example of this is the decision to host the 2012 European Championships in Poland & Ukraine which has been chosen despite the fact that travelling by train between the two countries in one day is nigh on an impossibility. They’ve been chosen because the East of Europe has been neglected by footballs powerbrokers since 1976 when Yugoslavia were the last (and only) Eastern European country to host the championships. These sorts of events have more impact than just on the football pitch and can bring about vast improvements in economies (as we might find out if England host the World Cup and use the Stadium of Light) for the countries involved. The exploiting of an untapped commercial market may be the underlying influence here, but at least it’s an attempt to bring the lesser lights to the fore.
That’s a change there then.
What might have slipped under the radar however is Michel Platini’s insistence about trophy presentations being moved back to the stands. It may seem fairly insignificant, but its against the TV exec’s wishes as they want the ticker tape and choreographed celebrations on a raised plinth on the pitch despite the fact that the real supporters in the stadium end up seeing nothing but a smokescreen. The move back to presentations halfway up the stands is a small move back towards the traditions of the game (at least the new Wembley includes the famous walk up the steps but now more twice as many) and it can be hoped that it’s the first of many more since Platini has also openly stated that he wants a restructuring of the Champions League to reduce the dominance of the major nations. The majority of the TV pundits in our country are pointing to Chelsea, Liverpool and Man Utd’s presence in the Champions League semi finals as being proof that the Premiership is the strongest league in the world. In reality it is simply proof that the Premiership has become synonymous with greed being prosperous as we have now developed into a league devoid of competition throughout the table as the top four sides are now almost a given each season with only the occasional challenge from one club each season.
Simple, but small, and welcome change there then.
Finally, what about Sunderland with a chairman and manager talking of top class footballers and wanting to compete with the best?
One MAJOR change there then!