Why are we playing Burnley? Bring back the G14.

Burnley?!?  No offense to any of the happy denizens of that nor’western locale, I’m sure it’s beautiful, but why does the Arsenal have to play against a team where the entire population is half of the N5?  Yeah, I looked up the population.  Seriously, this is a wasted game for the Arsenal, the FA, the English game and the world of football.  Sure, it sounds great for Platinini to talk about small clubs and countries, and all kinds of folks can talk about tradition, but let’s be honest, games like this are ridiculous.

Again no offense to the burnlinians, we just simply can’t take any more injuries from nonsense games.  I’m not saying Burnley will try to hurt us, this isn’t a Hughes team.  In fact, the Burnly manager has been quite adamant that they’ll try to play the game (can’t remember where, but I read it somewhere on the Interweb).  Hats off to him for that.  But still, Burnley?

Only in football’s crazy organizational structure would a team worth nearly a billion pounds go near a team worth, what, 25 million pounds?  In America, everyone would have a heart attack.  Fab hurt while on duty…in Burnley???  None of our sports operate that way.  Sure, we have some small market teams, but we have population minimums on what metropolitan areas can have a team.

And before anyone says, we don’t understand tradition, take a look at America’s pastime.  Baseball.  Clubs began in the 1860s.  The “modern” game and the National League began in 1876 (12 years before the Football League) and today’s league began in 1903 beating the English Premier League by 90 years.  And American football needs to be mentioned since it traces its roots to rugby and soccer/football.  It began in the 1840s and the modern league in 1920.  So we get tradition.

The difference is, we get tradition AND business.  Business requires stable audiences and packed stadiums.  This means getting people to watch.  And people watch, when the best are playing.  That means we need money.  And playing teams like Burnely is not good for the business.  Yes, the EPL is the most watched league.  But it could make more money, and the clubs could make more money if the league were more competitive and had more games with teams that mattered.

For instance, man$ity and chel$ki are not competitive because the league is competitive.  But they are competitive because their owners can afford to lose £1 billion.  But the fundamentals of the league are not sustainable.  So changes need to happen in the league and not just the EPL.

Alas.  The demise of the G14 was a shame.  People didn’t like what the Clubs said, but they brought a measure of common sense to the discourse.  Tradition is fantastic, but people want to watch the best football.  The best football requires a high level of competition, hence the ridiculous success of the Champions League.  More people are willing to pay money to watch good clubs play and people are willing to pay a premium to watch good clubs play.  People are NOT willing to pay lots of money to watch lesser teams play mix martial arts against better teams because they can’t keep up with them.

Arsene’s attack on international friendlies mimics this for UEFA and FIFA.  And hopefully, just hopefully, it’s one more stake in the heart of the current system.

-the student

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