The 39th Game
Everybody is writing about it: The 39th Game, the proposed extra international round of Premier League matches, the idea whose “Time Has Come”.
Some think that for English fans to complain now about the globalisation of football is laughable: that horse bolted long ago, they say. What kind of product did you think you were buying into already?
Many of those protesting the proposal — such as the anti-Glazer Fight For United grouping — aren’t that dense, though. They well know the Premier League was set-up for, and always has been, about grasping every last piece of gold. That’s what they’ve been fighting for years. But they do see this as the final nail in the coffin: “The proposals outlined by the Premier League to play competitive matches abroad mark the final notice that football has ceased to run for the benefit of its supporters, and now exists purely as a money generator for those already fabulously rich.”
The question is whether the 39th game might finally wake up the rest of the sheep (or perhaps lemming)-like fans to this reality.
The Premier League couldn’t have handed opponents of football’s growing disconnect from is roots a better symbolic target than this: The 39th Game, as a neatly-numbered metaphor for a step too far.
Some believe such action is pointless. Richard Williams, in the Guardian, notes that “all the fans’ protests and Parliamentary speeches in the world will not be enough to halt their project.”
That might not matter, though. The point is whether or not this could finally mobilise enough supporters to say: enough.
Update: for those wondering why the FSF and thousands of fans are so angry about this, it’s also worth reading the FSF’s “reasons” page.