are FIFA thinking of ?? Introducing a world-wide football calendar. Will
it feature full frontal shots of Lennart Johansson and Sepp Blatter ??
Or will it have them in artistic poses replicating famous football
moments from the past ?? And
knowing FIFA it will probably consist of fourteen months as they had
made a promise to the Congolese delegate that they would add two more
months to the year if it guaranteed their vote to maintain their
positions in the world football hierarchy.
seriously folks, the idea of imposing the world football calendar on to
the whole of the FIFA community is one which is going to cause a big
fuss in the game over the next few years.
We have already seen and heard the rumours of top Scottish,
Danish, Dutch and Belgian clubs joining a North-Atlantic League where
they will play their games on oil rig platforms under the cameras which
will beam the game into the sitting rooms of houses all over the
countries involved. How
these clubs imagine that this will increase their money gathering
ability and then put them in a position to challenge the big boys of
European football, I’m not sure.
Instead of Rangers and Celtic battling it out for the Scottish
League Championship, they will be facing Ajax, PSV, Anderlecht and
Celtic six times a season for a championship that nobody has a parochial
interest in. Let’s face
it, these are all leagues where there most teams play to find out
who’s coming third.
some of the changes that will affect the English game being a season
running from February to November, with December and January being set
aside for holidays and pre-season training.
Now that is a fine idea isn’t it ?
Pre-season training at the moment takes place in the summer in
this country, so the players although at risk of dehydration are, in the
main, less likely to get injured (hard grounds excepted).
In the winter months it will be hard for players who are seeking
to regain their fitness levels for a rigorous season to train hard with
the risk of pulled muscles and hamstrings and the general hazardous
state of training pitches in this country in those months anyway.
Fine for the top clubs who may have indoor training facilities,
but what of the lower league sides who have to make do with training on
park pitches anyway and the funds available don’t stretch to using the
local sports centre or health club ??
Some of the clubs’ biggest gates comes around Christmas and New
Year and these would go by the by if FIFA have their way to spoil all
our Christmases. It is the
only chance for some of us to get out of the house at this “family”
time of year !!
the season will be split into two parts with July and August allocated
for World Cups and Continental tournaments.
This is to obviate the need for releasing players for
international requirements during the season.
But don’t clubs realise this when the sign players up in the
first place ?? The CONCACAF Cup (not a new brand of coffee, but a
Central American goal fest) runs smack in the middle of the European
season. Now, why, if it involves most of the players from our continent,
don’t they run it in the middle of their season.
Their players will be match fit and a break in their season would
not be a terrible intrusion in the League’s continuation. As most of our major international tournaments would take
place then anyway, why the switch to playing from January ?? 46 dates
would be allowed for national league and cup matches and another 16 for
international club competitions, which would probably include as many
moneymaking world club cups that FIFA could dream up.
other astounding aspect of these changes would be the playing of
double-headers. Now, as any
Sunday park player will know that because of the unavailability of
players and the state of the Council’s pitches, it means that come the
end of the season your team have to play one game that counts,
points-wise, as being two (either by overall result or each half
representing one game). This is what is being suggested for continental
competitions (European Championships) and World Cup qualifiers. So, you
get to meet the same opponents on a regular basis.
Now this would not be a problem for England as we have been stuck
with Poland in the past and now Germany in the future as the countries
who we meet every week !! But what effect would that have on the
pressure on players and officials. Should a ref make a mistake over a crucial decision in one
game, then fine, it would only affect one competition, but when it has a
drastic effect on qualification for two major tournaments, well, I
wouldn’t like to be wearing all black I can tell you.
of the factors that has expedited this move has been the appointment of
World Cup 2002 going to Japan and Korea, with the competition taking
place slap bang in the middle of the monsoon season.
It has been madly suggested by some that the World Cup finals are
started in May to avoid the wet weather, but this would result in
players going straight from their European seasons to the World Cup
without a break. History,
it seems, has no place outside the FIFA museum at Preston. The same goes
for the FA Cup, which would be nowhere like the current set-up under the
new regime. The famous old
competition would be over and done with by December and the shifting of
the third round to before Christmas this year will look like rearranging
a postponed match in comparison.
other implied change tied up with this harmonised calendar move is to
reduce the size of the Premiership to 18 clubs. The FA have resisted
this change for a number of years, even though UEFA have threatened to
do away with European places for the League Cup winners until they did.
However, this seems to be curtains for the Premier League as we
know it (I was going to say “and love it”, but then I thought better
of it). The money men will
be mortified and the fans will bid a hearty cry of “Yahoo !!” as the
price of season tickets plummet. Well, the last bit will probably not happen as last time the
top division was reduced the price stayed the same !! “But how would it be done ?” I hear you ask.
I’m sure that the Premier League Committee would devise a fair
and amicable method to decide who gets the chop.
thought of the top dogs at FIFA using only the balls they pull out of
those glass bowls at tournament draws to cover their modesty pictured on
a page each month would be too much to take. They have the exotically
named members of FIFA’s various committees; David Will, Jock Irvine,
Timothy Fok, Wan-Kon Oh, Dick Howard, Chuck Blazer, Rudy Gittens, Slim
Aloulou, Omar Seck and Howard Wilkinson to draw in the ladies. Or they
could go for a girlie calendar, but they don’t seem to Miss December
or Miss January very much. For each country who has a vested interest in
playing their games when they do, there is another who will do exactly
what the FIFA bigwigs tell them on the promise of a greater say in the
way football is run. Or do
I mean that they will be able to increase the amount of money they will
make out of the game ??