October 07, 2011

Could We Survive Going Up?

GRANDAD SHOUTY asks an important question


"What's going on? I don't think I've heard of you winning so many matches" That was my Canadian friend's reaction to Pools' five on the trot victories which saw us unbeaten at the end of September. Unfortunately, our unbeaten run came to an end against Sheffield Wednesday and I didn't get the satisfaction of seeing Wednesday falling on a Saturday.

It was a lot different to last year, wasn't it? Then, we were in the depths of despair as Wednesday tonked us 5-0. The writing was on the wall and it seemed that we would be involved in an eternal struggle at the wrong end of the table. Fortunately, we turned things around and Mick Wadsworth was able to field younger players towards the end of the season to give them experience.

In the Wednesday game, I thought that Pools more than matched their opponents and the 1-0 defeat was rough justice. The reception from Poolies at the end of the game more than indicated they were satisfied with the performance - if not the result. Providing we can keep defeating the teams below us everything should be ok.

The fact that we were early pace setters focussed the minds of some as to whether we would be candidates for promotion. Could we cope with it? In all honesty, I would have to say: I don't know. However, we have to look at the case of poor old Plymouth Argyle. In 2004, they came to The Vic in the last home game of the season already crowned League One champions - the Rink End was just about full of Pilgrims who had made the long journey up from the West Country." Alex Ferguson complained that television was controlling the game. Stone the crows - its taken a long time for the penny to drop, hasn't it. Where's he been living for the past few years?"

Initially, Argyle held their own in The Championship but eventually dropped back into League One. Last season, of course, they went into administration with the requisite deduction of ten points. This season, they're struggling at the foot of League Two and, at the present rate, could drop out of the Football League altogether. Cases of players and staff not being paid and the ex-manager paying the heating bill out of his own pocket give further emphasis of Plymouth's problems.

How has this come about? Essentially, its one of The Championship being clogged up with teams who have been relegated from the Premier League and receiving parachute payments thus creating financial disparity. Then there's the question of what the players receive. Players who play in the Championship receive wages appropriate to that division. Sign players on two year contracts and then get relegated and you're asking for trouble. Let's hope that Plymouth can claw themselves out of trouble. It would be a shame to see them go out of the Football League.

The disparity between the upper and lower reaches of the game were highlighted last month when Alex Ferguson complained that television was controlling the game. Stone the crows - its taken a long time for the penny to drop, hasn't it. Where's he been living for the past few years? The BBC Football website outlined just how much the Premier League has been raking in over the past few years:

1992 -97 BSkyB 60 games per season £191m per season
1997 -01 BSkyB 60 games per season £670m per season
2001 -04 BSkyB 110 games per season £1.2bn per season
2004 -07 BSkyB 138 games per season £1,024bn per season
2007 -10 BSkyB and Setanta 138 games per season £1.706bn per season
2010 -13 BSkyB/Setanta (replaced by ESPN) 138 games per season £1.782bn per season

From those figures, you'll see just how much the Premier League is dependent on television. Not only that, but the tradition of 3 pm kick-offs on a Saturday now seem to be a thing of the past so far as the Premier League is concerned. What's more, they want more cash. The clubs complain that there are too many fixtures yet think nothing about going off on junkets to exotic places in the hope of flogging more replica shirts. Still, they're stuck with market forces - and they can turn against you. Which is why we're in a recession.

Another gripe - this time with the BBC. On Tuesday, 27th September MK Dons played Charlton and Wycombe played Preston and both games were relevant in terms of Pools' league position. However, on the sports bulletins on Radio 5 no mention was made of the results of those games - so the only BBC option was to look them up on the BBC website. Now I wasn't going to get out of bed to switch the computer on so had to wait until the following morning to see the results in the paper. However, all the papers had only one news item to write about - the Tevez affair - and after seeing the results I wanted, the sports supplement went into the blue bag in the recycling bin. The guy is an absolute pain in the butt and I wish Theresa May at the Home Office would find some way of deporting him back to Argentina so that we can all have a bit of bloody peace.

Some months ago, of course, the BBC announced that they were looking at their local radio network with a view to taking out local footy coverage. This would be transferred to Radio 5 but if they can't even give the results what hope is there? Fortunately, the local radio thing looks as though it has been kicked into the long grass.

Finally, it was great to see Richard Barker back at The Vic in his capacity as manager of Bury. One other ex-Poolie seems to be doing well for himself and that's Jon Daly - now captain of Dundee United and banging in the goals with regularlity. Opinion was always divided on Jon Daly but after coming off the bench at Cardiff in 2005 to score Pools' second goal, he'll always have a place in our history.