The Sweeper: Premier League Cliffhanger
It feels very much like the end of an HBO series season. Story threads aren’t as much resolved as made more complicated, or they simply disappear from view. Characters drop out of sight with little regard to their contribution to the greater narrative, and every viewer has their own idea of the significance of the proceedings. Premier League: The Saga Continues.
The Guardian has, perhaps most sensibly, given the last word (if not laugh) on the year to Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore. Scudamore’s interview today reveals—in addition to his dismissal of the administration of Portsmouth as a pock on his record rather than the disintegration of an historically important sporting institution on the south coast—that he believes the problem of Pompey sullying the PL’s moneybags image is in fact the fantasy of a hate-filled British media.
When the Guardian wonders whether the Portsmouth detonation is a global PR disaster, he responds: “I don’t think they’re spooked about it around the world at all. The UK is the epicentre of English football. The UK media is at the epicentre of negative things about the Premier league. The further you travel away from here the more positive the reflection back to us is. I’m laughing at you because it’s true. And you actually know it’s true.”
Scudamore may be right, if he takes to mean that foreign sports media “positively reflects the Premier League” by publishing nothing but AP match reports. I take it he isn’t including bloggers in his global review. Welcome to Pitch Invasion Richard, a Chicago-based website dedicated to revealing as much English top flight avarice as space and time allow. And were not the only ones; all over the world, many independent writers are quite attuned to Premier League finances, usually employing it as an example to urge caution in their own domestic league growth.
The problem for many news outlets is that the issues of debt and irresponsible ownership are so rife that they go beyond the millisecond news cycle of most sports desks, who are happier to reprint players talking about England caps than accountants talking about the Football Creditors Rule. Thank god then for the managers. As WSC pointed out yesterday, as the soggy, debt-laden narrative of the Premier League season is increasingly left to the gaffers to spell out:
These are all stories that are very much of the Premier League. It is the rolling news league. Every story, piece of speculation or careless quote gets an airing every 20 minutes or so. The stories of the league, its financial mismanagement and poor governance, are often told through the managers and their press conferences. In many ways the managers become the story, with every word and nuance given more exposure than a prime ministerial debate.
Speaking of, the last great hanging story thread of this year’s season of Premier League is the UK general election. While backroom deals are being hammered out as I type (of the sort Scudamore knows quite well), the future of Scudamore’s wild west Premier League under a new government with an eye to regulating football remains to be seen. You’ll just have to wait for next season to find out what happens.