In this weeks column D3D4 columnist Darren Young looks at what football might be like in twenty years time…
Twenty’s Plenty of Time To Kill The People’s Game
Happy New Year.
I hope everyone has enjoyed a great Christmas and had a much better one than Walsall FC. Which won’t have been that difficult.
But at a time of merriment and spirits (and not just the Ghost of Christmas Past) I heard a rather sobering radio interview where someone lamented the increasing wealth of some football clubs; especially those owned by Gulf nations or states, and what this might mean. It got me thinking, not about what it might mean now – we already know most of it in the Premier League anyway – but what it might mean much further ahead…I don’t know, say, in twenty years.
So, let me be the Ghost of Football Future and take you on a little journey; one purely in my imagination for now….and let’s hope it remains that way.
[Ent. Fox TV, European Studio, London. Fox paid $1 trillion for the rights to all top-level football/soccer way back in 2032. Their lead broadcaster is on screen – or projected into your ray bans or onto your forearm depending on how you prefer to watch stuff these days]
“Welcome football fans to another edition of Match of the Day in this 2037/8 season with the big match, PSG v Manchester City in the latest round of the World Super League. As we await the go ahead from Chinese television for this morning’s kick off, some team news.
With Manchester City fielding new £295m signing, Messi Jnr, despite him being only 17, it’s a brave move as they try to claw back some of the six-point deficit they have on the team from Paris and their £2.4bn trio of Brazilian strikers.
PSG have held an advantage all season, since winning the first two matches of the season with Manchester City always playing catch up.
But even if City do finish second and therefore in last place – with no relegation – it is understood that there is no immediate pressure on manager, Lionel Messi, although the owners have stated that they would like the title in the next two years.
In last week’s 6-6 draw between the two teams, played in Seattle, Manchester City’s goalkeeper, Carlos, was man of the match for the first time since goalkeepers were banned from handling the ball at all.
But despite his star showing he was annoyed that it didn’t earn his team all four points complaining ‘if the offside law was still in operation, the fifth and possibly the sixth would have been straight up to the ninth official for a closer look’
Meanwhile, PSG’s top scorer, Marcus Stronberg, has been told by his manager, Brooklyn Beckham, to concentrate on his performances on the pitch and not be distracted by the off the field incident that is threatening to bring a premature end to his season.
He was recently pictured on the latest social media platform (which we won’t bother naming as it will be out of date next month) wearing training shoes of a firm other than the one that paid $2bn to supply all PSG kit for this season and next.
A clear violation of FIFPRO’s ethics code, the governing body of football is taking the matter very seriously and CEO, Sir Richard Scudamore, says that if he’s found guilty he may be fined, banned or even possibly made to go back to playing international football.
A spokesman for the club refused to be drawn on the subject although an unnamed source believed to be close to the player said that Stronberg had said privately to him ‘please, anything but that’.
Back at the stadium, while we wait for the teams to come out of the glass dressing rooms and past the gazing fans who have paid hundreds of pounds to watch them change, let’s switch our attention away from the top division for a brief moment.
Yesterday, Real Madrid went back to the top of the World League 2 with a 9-6 win at Manchester United, with three of Cristiano Ronaldo’s children on the scoresheet. United drop to third after their second successive loss and there is growing speculation they will be changing their coach for the eight time this season.
Barcelona are now in second with New York in fourth and the ‘drop-zone’ position. But with no promotion to the World Super League, there is yet more grumbling from the teams in the second echelons of world football that the gap between the ridiculously rich and the unimaginably rich is getting wider and wider.
Sheik Dosh, co-owner of Barcelona has hit out again at the monopoly at the top of the sport saying that fans want to see the world’s best players but with PSG and Manchester City having all 60 of them, they cannot hope to raise admission prices beyond current levels. Furthermore, with no promotion or relegation between the top two leagues even on the agenda until at least the next TV contract talks begin in 2042, potential multi-billionaire investors from the Middle East refuse to consider buying any of the, what they call, ‘second rate franchises’.
It’s a stalemate that’s set to go on for a while. ‘We’re in a catch-22 situation’ said Dosh, when he spoke to Fox last night. ‘Fans just don’t want to watch second best players at that cost, and there’s a lot of competition for the supporter’s attention. I mean, they could fly into space for the same price’.
Further down the football pyramid, it’s tight at the top of World League 3. Although the title and one promotion spot looks to be between Los Angeles, London United and South Germany, there’s still enough games for Beijing and Barnsley to mouth a late challenge.
‘It’s like the Championship used to be, for those old enough to remember it’ said London’s manager, Sam Allardyce, 83, who came out of ‘retirement’ last month when their previous boss failed a Fit and Proper person test.
In other news….
There was a landmark moment this week when a club in France started up a youth team, the first academy opened by a team outside of the World Leagues, in 14 years.
Also, fully robotic referees are a step closer after a successful trial in friendly in Qatar between Britain and the EU. Modelled on the remnants of Mark Clattenburg, RoboRef, the match officials division of HawkEye, say it’s too early to say if the bots will be ready for this summer’s World Cup in Iceland but as no one’s purchased any tickets, it probably won’t matter either way.
And finally, last night saw the first ever game with every single spectator viewing via VR headsets. The unofficial friendly match, a 4-3 win for Australasia against an XI made up from States not formally recognised by FIFPRO, had a completely empty stadium with green screens on all four sides. It was estimated that 1.7m people ‘attended’ using headsets via Amazon, although Hugh Cropper, who worked at the Emirates Stadium before Arsenal were amalgamated, said it was closer to two million.
So, back to today’s action and as the teams line up for the FIFPRO anthem, here are some important dates for your diary, football fans.
On Wednesday, these two teams meet here again in the first leg of the World Super Cup with the return leg in Abu Dhabi a fortnight’s time.
And next week, we have a Super Sunday, as Manchester City host PSG in the next round of the World Super League.
Finally, in three weeks’ time, the League Super Cup Final, live from nearly neutral Dubai, is Manchester City v PSG.
We look forward to you joining us for that”