BBefore the Premier League made its initial decision to postpone last weekend’s matches, the board changed its mind four times. It set the tone for the week, but perhaps not the seriousness that was intended. There was often confusion, conflicting feelings, and a feeling that every decision actually misjudged the timing or mentality of the nation. The latter was certainly the case in terms of reaction to the weekend, as it quickly became apparent that the vast majority wanted to play. It is done this way.
When the news broke out how the English Premier League Respect will be shown to the Queen this weekend, one of the sources involved immediately noted that it was “a little bit too much”. Many felt the same.
The Premier League was announced two days after the start of the English Football League, but it went further than its younger partner. While the Premier League has opted for a simple minute’s silence and a black armband, the Premier League is also adding 70 minutes of applause with managers encouraged to don suits and lead teams. Some participants scoffed at the amount of criticism their bosses would receive if they risked wearing a tracksuit.
But then, what can be said drives a large part of that story, even if much of it is about seeing you do it.
Despite all of football’s attempts to make the right statement regarding Queen, the response instead said a lot about the game’s sense of self and its relationship to the institution and the wider community.
There was a lot of symbolism to go along with many of the portraits of the late king.
There was, first of all, that servile manner in which The so-called people’s game felt they had to stop playingAt the same time, shutting down an entire economy, many of these people depended on it, while all enterprise sports continued without thinking. The Premier League has effectively made room for all the other domestic sports and leagues to enjoy a bit of interest. It can be said that the game knew its place.
Much has been said about how rich football is that it can take losses that others can’t, but that’s not even half of it. If you were to add the cost of all cancellations to everyone affected – from contract workers working zero hours and supporters crossing Britain on trains to fans of Naples and Eindhoven – the numbers would be really frightening. It’s the kind of money people shouldn’t lose needlessly in a cost-of-living crunch, especially since football is supposed to be a haven.
Some of the characters involved in the discussions talk about a game that is “lost in its self-importance.” The guiding consideration for all decisions was, according to one source, “what the conservative opinion pages might say.”
The comment added was “It’s all about the brand.” In fact, the Premier League has become another company looking to make sure its message is right.
Just I completely ignored the broader feelings. The Premier League has misjudged one of them, which has left some in the competition’s clubs elated. “It serves them right,” one source said of the backlash.
This was something he was not prepared for. It was about 24 hours after the initial reaction that ignited that word which was dismissed as the primary consideration was how Liverpool or Celtic fans could respond to any displays of respect or minutes of silence.
This is, frankly, unreasonable – but not because some people might have booed. It must first be emphasized that many within Liverpool and Celtic felt this was a “dead cat” argument, an easy aberration after a mistake.
Even if this is true, it is an absurdity. Think about what that means, other than football’s failure to trust its fans. Can the patriotic game really not deal with even a few dissenting voices?
Is football really trying to enforce mourning or adherence to behaviour, or else you wouldn’t be able to play? Shouldn’t football specifically be the kind that welcomes dissent and supportive expression? It must be implicit in its universality.
Even if the fans want to scream, it should be their problem to deal with them, not the problem of the sport. Is it the people’s game or the institution’s game?
This is football as a brand, and it needs to be seen as doing the right thing, rather than an extension of the support from which it has evolved.
There was even a hint of that in the usually wise Gareth Southgate comments when he named the England team. It should be noted that the press conference for that purpose was canceled “in deep respect”. Simple respect was not enough.
“We are aware that the country remains in a period of mourning and my thoughts remain with the royal family,” Southgate noted. “While it is important to explain some of our decisions about selection, we did not feel it appropriate to hold a full press conference, when it might distract from where people’s minds should be at this time.”
There is no real escape from the fact that ‘where people’s minds should That’s a pretty loaded phrase in itself. That sums up the mood of the week.
None of this means even adopting an anti-monarchical or republican stance. The actions the match could have taken were clear. Since everyone predicted last Thursday Police cases may cause games to be postponed this weekendMatches could have been played with ease last week, with a proper show of respect with the black armbands as other sports have done. There could have been some extra fests to recognize the Queen’s role as FA president. That would have allowed for a more flexible approach to this weekend, one that more people would have understood.
As it stands, football seems to reflect the wider community the wrong way. It has taken an overly ostentatious approach to respectability, disproportionately disrupting people’s lives, and has angered supporters more than it might otherwise be. As for football, read the BBC and all the various pranks about its ongoing coverage.
There were also too many unintended consequences to match the more serious cost in the real world to many people.
First, there is a mess of the calendar, a farce already due to the Winter World Cup. Most important of all is the fact that six clubs – Brighton, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Leeds United, Liverpool and Manchester United – will now go a month without playing in the domestic league. Some aren’t too bothered by that, given that it’s almost allowed some managers to extend mid-season camps to work on their teams. Graham Potter is almost getting prep. Jurgen Klopp gets a reset. Erik ten Hag is getting more time to reshape Manchester United. Meanwhile, Brighton have been given time and space to appoint a new manager without the pressure of a relentless string of matches. All of this can have an impact on those games, too.
It was definitely self-defeating for the Premier League on the other hand. On a completely basic level, this season has been better than most of the season. It was breathless, with great gameplay and real drama constantly adding to the gripping storylines, amplifying it all. It felt like almost every match had something big. That has already been disrupted, and there is at least the possibility that the Premier League may have taken the momentum out of its season unnecessarily. It definitely put more hurdles in place, mostly in the form of crowding in fixtures.
At least the kids are playing again this weekend. Their simple run on some weeds represents a welcome release from a lot of confusion.