Has football changed for good or ill since the advent of Sky? In many ways, it is a debate about the nature of modern Britain

From my narrow standpoint, things have got immeasurably better

Share
Related Topics

My daughter doesn't remember football before the Premier League. She was only three years old when Rupert Murdoch's millions changed our national game for ever, his money bringing in the best players from around the world, allowing clubs to renovate their stadiums, and attracting the interest of foreign billionaire owners who wanted a piece of the action.

She thinks going to a football game is an exciting, glamorous and largely civilised pursuit. She doesn't remember what it used to be like: when fans were called “animals” by a government minister, were treated as such, and as a result sometimes behaved that way. A football stadium was not the place to take an impressionable young woman. I'm not saying that she confuses going to a match with a night at the theatre, but, from my narrow standpoint, the game has changed immeasurably for the better.

Football has provided a bonding agent between divorced father and teenaged daughter, for whom finding points of common interest might have been impossible otherwise. We will never lack for something to talk about. We have spent countless quality hours together on trips across the country and Europe. We have shared triumph, disaster and the odd Jamie Oliver chicken balti pie. And I had the ultimate burst of parental pride when, during a match at Norwich City, I turned round to see my daughter aiming a two-handed V-sign at Norwich supporters who were celebrating when a Manchester City goal was ruled offside.

This indulgent reverie was brought to my mind yesterday when listening to a radio phone-in that was ostensibly about Sky's allegedly heavy-handed tactics in sending private detectives into pubs who were thought to be showing football on foreign satellite systems, but turned into a wider discussion about whether football has been changed for good or ill since the advent of Sky. In many ways, it was a debate about the nature of modern Britain.

Many callers seemed to be lamenting the passing of an age of Bovril, the maximum wage and Jimmy Greaves. They regarded Sky as the acme of a greedy corporate behemoth, and football itself has become a sport that has lost touch with its roots, the province - at the highest level, at least - of multi-millionaire mercenaries (the players) and asset-stripping egomaniacs (the owners).

A common refrain was that the ordinary fan is priced out of the game, and certainly seat prices have galloped way ahead of inflation. But virtually every game in the Premier League is a sell-out. I would have thought that was a sign of success rather than failure. True, the game is very different today - more corporate, more venal - and there are aspects that I find hard to bear. And I bow to no one in a belief that Rupert Murdoch has been a malign influence on British society (I have the bruises to prove it, too).

Yet, as with so many aspects of modern life, progress upsets the old order. Like it or not, football has always been about money. It's just the sums are much bigger these days. But do I begrudge Yaya Toure's £200,000+ a week? Never. In fact, I think they should pay him some more.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Rafael Nadal is down and out, beaten by Dustin Brown at Wimbledon – but an era is not thereby ended  

Sad as it is, Rafael Nadal's decline does not mark the end of tennis's golden era

Tom Peck
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test