Game Changer, by Mihir Bose
Sunday 13 January 2013
This examination of the Premier League's birth 20 years ago and its subsequent flourishing begins in Singapore, where Liverpool are on a lucrative pre-season tour. That, and the fact it is published by an imprint dedicated to Asian business affairs, are eloquent evidence of the global interest English football's top flight now inspires.
Less satisfactory for many English supporters is the increasing foreign ownership of clubs and the declining number of home-grown players detailed here. The appendix reveals – a favourite word of the author – that Arsenal's 30-man squad in the League's first season comprised 24 England-qualified players and six foreigners, of which two were Scottish and one Irish. Their figures for this season are six and 34 respectively.
Bose actually reveals little we did not know before, but he has done an impressive job of pulling all the strands of a complex tale together as he chronicles the sea change since the mid-Eighties, when The Sunday Times felt able to describe football as "a slum game watched in slum stadiums by slum people".
As befits a trained accountant as well as an award-winning journalist, he is especially strong on the financial side, and some of the numbers boggle the mind: the inaugural 1992-93 season saw a total income for the League of £46m; last season the clubs' combined revenue was £2.3bn. How the League will evolve in the future is anybody's guess, but for a clear-eyed view of the past Game Changer is hard to beat.
Published in hardback by Marshall Cavendish Business, £14.99
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