Like a chain smoker reaching the airport exit after an eight hour flight, like a shopaholic after a particularly long bank holiday weekend during which all of the shops have been closed, like a fish returning to water after almost too long out of it, these are all experiences which are accompanied, at some stage, with a massive sigh of relief. To return to normal having been out of the comfort zone for so long is a blessing. Just ask the fish! If speech were possible it would surely mop it’s brow, say “phew” and thank it’s lucky stars that it were still around to tell the tale.

Premier League football returns at the weekend having been unceremoniously dumped in favour of some World Cup qualifiers and some friendlies. The standard of both, particularly the ones involving England, was Championship at best. In fact, had Scotland had a little more conviction and considerably more luck, the result may have been very different in their game against the “auld enemy“.

England then played reasonably well when snatching a draw from the jaws of victory against Spain reserves in another of those meaningless friendlies. Except that this one wasn’t meaningless! No, the draw against the former World and European champions has proven, beyond any reasonable doubt, that England is now officially the best team ever and a nailed on certainty to win the next World Cup. Well, in the eyes of the great English public, press and celebrated pundits, at least.

Suffice to say that football viewing on a more professional level can now be resumed. Forget the fact that the vast majority of players in England’s top league are overpaid prima donnas who couldn’t string together a sentence of five words or more. Or the fact that they would struggle to make a living if they weren’t good at football. Forget that, in the main, very few of them actually deserve anything like the amount of money they are being handed to wear short trousers and run around a piece of grass like excited children looking for buried treasure or, in their case, the ball.

Yes, forget all this and just tune in to the most exciting league in the world. That is the opinion of those who play in it, those who manage in it and, probably, those who referee in it.

Having watched quite a number of games this season my first thoughts are of sympathy for the fans of every other league in the world. If the Premier League is the most exciting then my heart bleeds for those poor sensation-starved souls. What are they watching? Are they watching? Are they falling asleep? Who knows, we certainly don’t because we belong to the privileged few who are able to watch the most exciting league in the world, so we don’t care.

Or at least we can watch until England needs to fill Wembley. Then all normal services have to cease otherwise people may not turn up. Imagine if there was a realistic alternative to an England international. Something like, say, a public flogging or a re-enactment of the gunpowder plot but, this time, with a happier ending where it succeeds and the houses of parliament are no longer, along with all those other overpaid, money-grabbing parasites known as members of parliament.

Unfortunately we live in the real world and things like this do not happen. Footballers, who don’t live in the real world and would be hard pushed to even provide directions to it, have a duty to entertain with their skills and trickery. The best ones do so in Spain which, in theory anyway, makes La Liga the best league in the world because it has the best players in the world.

This is not a theory subscribed to by anyone involved with the Premier League. They will point to the fact that the Premier League pays more TO players, pays more FOR players and, generally, pays more for less than any other league. This is because there is more money available to Premier League clubs thanks to Sky Sports and BT Sports being unable to do what every bank and oil company has been doing for years, ie, form a cartel and carve everything up between themselves. No, they had to get involved in an auction which, as usual, was excellent for the rich clubs and their players but not such good news for the fee paying public who had to fund it all.

Still, even with all the shenanigans surrounding the Premier League, it is the most watched league in the world. That could be, of course, because it is the most televised league in the world.

Over the course of a weekend I am able to watch live Premier League football on Fox Sports, BT Sport, Sky Sports, Bein Sport and Astro Sport. This is, quite often, three games on a Saturday and at least two on a Sunday. Occasionally there will be a game on Friday night or Monday night as well.

When England play which is, fortunately, not very often I have to watch them on ITV Sport. Nobody else is interested. The other channels I normally watch are showing re-runs of recent Premier League games, or of games from years ago. Some say it is because ITV have an exclusive contract to show England’s games. If that is the case then it is because nobody else wanted to show them! Do they seriously expect me to believe that if say, Sky or BT had wanted the England games then they couldn’t have outbid ITV?

Anyway, the plane landed a while ago, the shops are open and the fish is back in the water. The three concerned with being out of their comfort zones can now relax. They are back, along with Premier League football, which gets most of the rest of us back in our comfort zone.

Writers can return to serious football, not this pretend stuff that England keep getting involved in. Come Saturday we will all be back in the real world of multi-millionaires, fantastic lifestyles with private jets and yachts which involves watching grown men running around a field whilst wearing colourful fancy dress and chasing a spherical bag of wind in an attempt to justify the hundreds of thousands of pounds transferred into their bank accounts on a weekly basis.

It’s good to be back down to Earth.

  1. pauleee says:

    Hey Iain,

    Don’t despair. Ignore the horror that is the real world and revel in the game we have come to love. Even football at it’s worst will shield us (somewhat, until it doesn’t) from the frightening realities of this new world order we now appear to be living in (notice the absence of capital letters here).

    If it weren’t for the joys of the PL, I may have already slashed my wrists over our (Yank here) contribution to the world madness, sure to cast a shadow over any joy we will experience from this exciting campaign.

    I am temporarily narrowing my focus so that the next few months mean something to me. I suggest we all do the same.

    Cheers, and be safe.


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