Mercenary players, faceless owners, exorbitant ticket prices - but still I can't wait for kick-off

There is nothing like the start of a Premier League season to get the blood pumping


Most mornings recently, my daughter and I have
exchanged emails which act as a simple countdown: seven, six, five days to go
etc. I am certain the same process is being enacted up and down the country.
That's because, despite the fact that top level football is now the province of
faceless foreign billionaires and mercenary players with no connection to the
badge they kiss, there is nothing quite like the start of a new Premier League
to inspire such widespread anticipation.

It may represent the first sign of summer passing into winter, but for many of us, who have had to survive on a diet of will-he-won't-he transfer stories and meaningless friendly matches in distant lands, that is a small price to pay for a weekly injection of our drug of choice. It was in a state of gathering excitement that I phoned a friend of mine, who has worked in football all his life, to assess prospects for the coming season.

He began by telling me how much he'd enjoyed the Ashes cricket series, but when I steered him towards a discussion about more serious business, I was taken aback. "Every season," he said, "I get more and more disenchanted by football, by the unaccountable owners who never have to face their public, by the players who are simply doing it for the money and have no responsibility to the supporters who pay their wages, and by the fans themselves who couldn't care less where their club's riches come from as long as it brings them success. As far as I'm concerned," he added, "the game is up."

Blimey. As the follower of a club to which all his criticisms could apply, it was somewhat chastening to listen to a football man renounce his life-long connection. However, he ignores the central issue. Supporting a football club is not an intellectual exercise where we can weigh up, say, the precise way in which individual owners have made their money and then make a considered choice of who to follow. It is an emotional attachment, and is most commonly handed down from one generation to another. How is logic and reason supposed to enter our romantic eco-system?

We are used to our love affairs being transitory ones. We know that a player with whom we have an intense connection, and who returns our devotion with proclamations of loyalty, will one day wear another club's shirt if the price is right. We know we are fickle with our affections, but we have to be. Players come, players go, but we stay. Owners may do a bunk, but we are here for the long haul. We don't, as a rule, follow the money. And joy is not tempered by political considerations or questions of financial legitimacy. If you support, let's say, Manchester City, was your ecstatic pleasure of that last-second goal which won the Premier League in any way diminished because it was on the back of a massive injection of petro-dollars? Of course not.

No matter how top class football has been corrupted by the money and hype that attends it, and the questionable characters who surround it, it remains the beautiful game. Now, how many hours to go?

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Care Support Workers

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion, this care company base...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£21000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - South East & East Anglia

£60500 - £65500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global leading software co...

Recruitment Genius: Junior IT Technician

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you want the opportunity to ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Refugees try to cross the border from Greece into Macedonia, near Gevgelija, on Wednesday. The town sits on the ‘Balkan corridor’ used by refugees, mostly from Syria, to travel from Turkey to Hungary, the gateway to the EU  

The UK response to the plight of Syrian refugees is a national embarrassment

Kevin Watkins
The provincial capital of Idlib, Syria, which fell to al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra last week  

'I was sure I’d be raped or killed. I was terrified': My life as a gay Syrian refugee who had to flee Isis

Subhi Nahas
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent