Sunday, July 21, 2013

What a summer we`re having.   Quite apart from the gorgeous weather we`re having yet another astonishing summer of sport - Andy Murray, Justin Rose, The Lions, Chris Froome, the England cricket team - there has been so much to admire and celebrate that it is entirely possible that I`ve missed someone out, for which I apologise.

But already the gathering storm of Premier League football threatens to bring this momentous summer crashing about our ears.   I suppose, to be fair, the retirement of palaeolithic manager `Sir` Alex Ferguson from Manchester United has brought a shaft of sunlight into an otherwise gloomy prognosis for the coming season although the return of arch-fantasist Jose Mourinho at Chelsea should remind us not to count our chickens too hastily.

I had a small barrage of e-mails from the club I have followed for 67 of my 74 years inviting me to buy a season ticket at St. Mary`s for the coming season.   I considered their invitation carefully but two factors came to the forefront of my mind.   The first was the cost - to secure the same seat I occupied for years, ever since St. Mary`s took the place of The Dell at Southampton, would set me back £820;  then the travelling costs for my 250 miles round trip, something to eat and drink, a programme, possibly the occasional parking fine, left me wondering seriously about our old friend `value for money.`

The second factor was the simple reality that the Southampton Football Club I knew and grew to love all those years ago has long departed.   There was a time when the club really was part of the community and the community part of the club, owned, managed and quite often played by local people who understood the respective value of club and community.   These days, the club is owned by a Swiss/German family, run by an Italian Chairman, managed by an Argentinian and played, amongst others, by a Pole, a Japanese, a Dutchman, a Uruguayan, a Frenchman, a Croatian, a Kenyan and a Brazilian.

Whilst all this summer sporting success continues (Australia 32-2 as I write) we should remind ourselves that in the last few weeks the England Under 21s, the Under 20s and even the Ladies football teams have all departed from their respective international competitions with more whimpers than bangs and, despite Premier League boss Richard Scudamore`s absurd insistence that it is `utter nonsense` to blame the number of foreign mercenaries playing in the Premier League for England`s international failings, we all know different.  

His product may well be reaching its sell-by date just in time for the England national team to miss out on qualification for the next World Cup and if so, then perhaps the storm gathering on the horizon might blow some good after all.   And before we know it, these long, hazy days of summer with all the joyous memories they bring, will fade into yet another winter of discontent as the grasping avarice of Mr. Scudamore`s beautiful game jars our senses once more.   It could and should be so very different.   If only. 

1 comment:

Ray Turner said...

I look forward to the wrapper on my Mars bar reading "Mars", in 2014.

Though I will concede that "England Winners" appearing on the Mars wrapper in late summer 2014 would make up for all the hype, and all the merchandising...