Project Big Picture: the end-game of football’s greed or the required rejuvenation to prevent football’s bleak future? Truth is; it’s both… and yet, it’s neither.
The rest of the Premier League sign away their equal power and equal rights to the “Big 6”. The EFL is guaranteed a sustainable and viable existence in exchange for accepting a low ceiling. Rules are amended and schedules are adjusted in favour of the elite few. The concept of equity in football is completely abolished.
It can be argued that the only change to our current reality would be that the illusion of equality and the prospect of social mobility is officially removed. “This is your place, be grateful for it” will simply become a law of the game rather than the unacknowledged norm that has existed for years, if not ever. It is the formalisation and crystallisation that football’s dream of equality and historical preservation has been nothing but hypocrisy and propaganda.
There are also practical elements to the idea that do not sit well. The removal of the EFL Cup and the Community Shield as well as the reduction of the Premier League from 20 to 18 being a few that get to me on a personal level.
It’s an idea that can only be supported and/or criticised via extreme wishy-washy, even-handed and tedious nuance. As boring as seeing something from both sides is, it is something that has faded in all areas of society despite history repeatedly showing that a lack of thought and co-operation does not result in positive outcomes. So, perhaps, a few phrases starting with “on the other hand”, now and then, aren’t all that bad.
The EFL is desperate. It needs a bailout. It needs life saving support and it needs it quick. Not like a “couple of years to get the house in order” quick, we are talking weeks before clubs, self-confessed, will be gone. Both Leyton Orient and Scunthorpe United, specifically, have outlined their plight: if the situation stays the same, they’ll be fortunate to see the New Year.
England’s elite have offered their help and a resolution. They’ve just done it with a characteristic, financially-driven moral flexibility that involves them running you over, helping you up and then charging you for a lift to A & E.
The romantic view that football belongs to the people died long ago. It is, and forever will be, a reflection of society and life. Right now, it must choose between living and running the risk of dying young or accepting that a stripped back existence and stasis of emotion will be good enough. Ideally; the elite will simply help the less fortunate with no strings attached but as I said; it is a reflection of society, so don’t bank on that.
We are heading, instead, for a watered-down list of conditions. These conditions will be complained about by the idealist but they’ll come in and, in reality, they will be a good thing. They’ll be accepted because it’ll mean the medium to long-term survival of our beloved clubs. This is something that must remain the key priority; regardless of the fact it comes at a weighty cost.
This isn’t it. The desperate cry for hand-outs down from an overwhelmingly wealthy minority isn’t football. The gratitude for a relative pittance being conditionally offered. The acceptance, even from myself, that a project so opportunistic and tasteless will actually have some benefits. This isn’t it, this isn’t football.
Football is the playground of the dreamer and the escape of the worker. It is the refuge of the troubled and the company of the lonely. It belongs to me, him, her, you and us; not them.