The brave new world of sport
Charles Thursby examines the future and finds it doesn't matter what he thinks
In recent years the UK has gained regular season NFL games at Wembley Stadium, as America Football attempts to break out from the inward-looking attitudes that make what are called its supposed ‘world finals’ seem risible.
Today we learn that, not for the first time, the UK soccer’s Premier League is looking at taking a 38th (or is it a 39th?) league game abroad and – in rugby – the Premiership club Wasps are moving to the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, simply because this appears to make business sense.
This is social ‘pub talk’ fare, but in my view – without any doubt – the writing is on the wall.
Professional sport at the elite level is going global.
Within the next quarter of a century, there will be established a world soccer league – featuring teams from Europe, the United States, South America, India, China and Australasia – owned and controlled by mega-rich businessmen, consortia, or even entire governments.
Soccer will effectively have a twelve-month season – or rather an accord as to when its Southern Hemisphere and Northern Hemisphere teams will play their synchronised games, which includes provision for month-long breaks at least three times per annum.
The same will inevitably happen in rugby.
Let’s face it, the very best in most avenues of life follow the big bucks. In this respect sport is no different to any other. The time-honoured model of organised British club soccer [I was going to say ‘time-honoured business model’, but these days you can barely describe UK soccer clubs as businesses in the true sense of the word] is totally inappropriate for the modern world.
The idea that clubs gain their support, and players, from a geographical area close to their traditional base is admittedly quaint but sadly now laughable. The brave new world of the future will demand that city (or geographical area) franchises become the norm in most (what we call) major sports.
It’s called progress, folks. (Or possibly, ‘The World According To Bernie Ecclestone’).