It has been great to see a number of managers, ex-managers, and players come out against the “39th game.” Too many executives haven’t come around yet, but given the dosh they stand to make, it’s not surprising. David Gold’s taken up far seedier ways of making money than this.
To be fair, Rick Parry’s equivocating as much as possible, but given that all 20 clubs voted to examine the idea means that Parry’s words must be taken with the usual grain of salt.
Most delightful has been the backlash from the national associations where the games look likely to take place.
Sunil Gulati, head of the USSF, along with Mohammed bin Hammam, the head Asian Federation Conderation, have already declared their skepticism. As has the Australian Federation.
If no one’s willing to host the games, especially the money-spinning locations that were originally eyed (US, Southeast Asia, Australia, etc), the plan is dead in the water.
Gulati, who would be a frequent target were I to pay much attention to the US MNT, rightfully questioned the plan, but did leave the door open to changing his mind if FIFA gives approval. Gulati knows full well FIFA will probably not sanction it. This may be one of the few times I’m thankful for Sepp Blatter’s “stewardship.”
However, so help me if FIFA signs off on this because the Premiership goes along with Blatter’s “6+5” plan. It would be the downfall of the Premier League, and I’m not exaggerating for effect. Plus, the EU court case will be an absolute laugh riot.
However, MLS deputy chairman Ivan Gazidis, who, like Scudamore, seems solely in the business of making money, is receptive. As is Alexi Lalas, who would put his mother in the Galaxy’s starting XI if he thought it’d sell more tickets.
Admittedly, I’m irreconcilably opposed to the idea, but I have no idea why they imagine this would help MLS. It’s not going to bring more fans to MLS games, and those who follow the Premiership over here are well aware that MLS exists.
Predictably, Michel Platini is also opposed to the plan. Now there’s at least one thing Platini and I agree on, although it does give him another opportunity to beat his disingenuous and sanctimonious “everything I do, I do for the common fan” drum.
I’ve seen a “compromise” suggestion that the Community Shield be played abroad, which I’ve got no problem with. The Community Shield is little more than a high-profile pre-season friendly anyway. However, moving that game will take revenue away from Wembley, something I’m positive the FA isn’t too keen on.
I’ll be stunned if some concrete comes out in the near future, and I still think this has to be something of a ruse, discussed to raise furor that distracts from some other issue the Premier League is trying to institute. It really makes that little sense to me; they couldn’t see the fans' vitriolic reaction coming a mile away?
But in the meantime, if you’re opposed to the plan, the Football Supporters Federation has a petition, which as of writing as 12795 signatures. Not only is it sent to the FA and Premier League, but also to each of the 20 clubs, which I can confirm from the auto-reply emails sent after I signed the petition.
If you’ve got a second, please sign.