Why We Need Fewer Matches in the Premier League, Not More
I would say that this season has probably seen me watch less football than I have done for quite a while. First an admission. I got engaged, started a new job and started the process of moving house. And yet I feel more passionate about the game now than I have ever done. Which got me thinking, are we suffering from football overkill? Can we actually have too much football?
I realize that maybe your natural reaction to such a question is one of incredulity. How can you have too much of the best sport in the world? But I am certain that the relative break I have had from the game has helped my appreciation of it deepen.
The simple fact is that because I have watched fewer games I have appreciated much more those that I have managed to see, a principle that could well benefit the game as a whole.
Football is by far the most dominant sport in our society. The papers are full of it, it dominates the sports bulletins and its big events are written into our national calendar. Sometimes it appears as though we all get so caught up in the stories around the game that sometimes we forget about the beauty of the game.
I am not saying that there is anything wrong with following all the off pitch stories and season-long narratives but the reason we all fell in love with football is the simplicity, the pure beauty of watching a team in full flow. Sometimes all the extra stuff that we are treated to comes in between us and that truth.
In my utopian view of what football could become there are less games in the Premier League and no top flight involvement in the League Cup, leading hopefully to a greater appreciation of the best that English football has to offer.
There is another, more practical reason why I believe a bit less top flight football would be a good thing. We all know that lower league clubs are struggling to survive. How many people would go and see some local lower league football once in a while if there were fewer games at the top? Maybe we might see a return to real localism within football. Fans could form an attachment to their local side as well as following a side in the top flight without being force fed an endless amount of top flight football, a lot of which often means very little.
There is precedent for this idea. The NFL has only 16 games in the regular season and fans of the sport appreciate hugely the short time they get with their team every year. It is a successful league with passionate fans and a successful commercial history. Meanwhile college and high school football thrives on a more local level, bringing together communities around sport.
Frankly, football could well be getting too big to sustain itself. A radical solution may be the only way forward for the sport whilst radical rationing of your own football intake may well produce some very surprising results in your own lives.