The evolution of the beautiful game.
In life, nothing stays the same. Everything changes and everything evolves.
I guess that this is a good thing, because without evolution we would all be living in mud huts, dressed in rags, while dragging our partners home by the hair in order to eat brontosaurus burgers.
Basically, without evolution we would all be living in Pennywell.
So my question is, has evolution in football been a good thing?
Its hard to believe but there was a time when football wasn’t shown live on our screens, apart from the cup final. Therefore this was a huge national event. Even now, I still remember the score and scorers of every cup final from the first I watched in 1967 (Spurs v Chelsea) all the way through to 2000 and a game we should have been in.
When live games began on the telly in the 1980s, Newcastle United were certainly not a box office draw, so our few televised games also stick in my memory.
Such as Liverpool 0-4 at Anfield, for which I still have the VHS video tape, West ham 4-0 with Andy Thomas being the hero and the 1990 cup-tie against Man Utd when we lost 2-3.
There was also another game that may have escaped you, which was our 6-6 game with Tranmere in the Zenith Data Systems cup, which we lost on pens of course. This was in the very early days of Sky when that’s all they had to show us.
How things have changed.
Now it’s live games virtually every day of the week and the excitement they used to generate has disappeared with the saturation.
I look at it like this. When I was kid, getting your hands on a copy of Parade or Club International was the height of erotic literature.
Now, if you wanted to see an Ostrich in stockings being spanked by a bloke dressed in lederhosen, there is a website for you. Obviously, I have no idea how true that is, so it must have been some bloke at work who told me about spankmyostrich.com…
You really can get too much of a good thing.
The game in the 80s was still local and pretty amateurish. Newcastle belonging to a solicitor, a ground you wouldn’t keep livestock in and TV rights that were worth next to nothing. Now it’s worth billions and it’s not finished yet.
Netflix or Amazon to take it to the next level and possibly off terrestrial TV?
A European Superleague where the elite can play with themselves while selling their souls to the far east?
But in my opinion there is a huge Elephant in the room. That is the crowds. I believe there is a looming problem as my geriatric generation disappear from the grounds.
Will the 16 year olds of today turn up on a freezing November day, or will they simply log on and pay a fiver to watch the game on a Saturday / Sunday / Monday?
While I agree that crowds make no real impact on profits for clubs these days, empty stands make our game as attractive as the Austrian or Belgian league.
So what’s the game going to look like in five years?
For what it’s worth, I think a European league is inevitable. It’s hard to believe but if this had been considered in 1996 or 2003 we might have got an invite. This league will attract the major TV rights and that will leave Newcastle United playing in an English league with teams on a relatively level playing field. Maybe that could be a good thing.
You never know, we might even win the reintroduced Zenith Data Systems cup.
On second thoughts, we probably wouldn’t.