Monday, May 28, 2007

Book Review. The Beautiful Game?

The Beautiful Game? Searching for the Soul of Football. David Conn 388pages.Yellow Jersey Press.2005

I read this detailed,informative book recently.Appropriately enough at the time I was going to see a lower league football match.
David Conn is an investigative journalist but first and foremost the book comes across as a labour of love from a football fan.
Detailed,yet not bogged down with facts and figures it covers the origin and growth of the game.It describes the "whole new ball game" of the Premier League and finishes in the 2005 season.Included are chapters on such events as Bradford and Hillsborough and the stories of Wimbledon and York City Football Clubs.

The work covers the changes in the financial and governing situation of the game.How the splitting of TV and sponsorship money,the creation of the Premier League and the floating of clubs has changed the landscape in which clubs operate and survive.
How it is possible for some Premier players to earn more than 100,000 pounds a week.How despite the infux of money,half of the 72 clubs in the Football League have been insolvent at one time or another since 1992.How the game is being priced out of the range of poorer and younger people.
I found the chapters regarding the Premier League's creation and the business dealings involving such people as David Dein and Ken Bates interesting as I knew nothing about them though they are both still prominent in the game today.In fact Ken Bates is involved in the ongoing Leeds United financial morass this season.

On page 373 Conn suggests that a more even spread of money could ease the financial burden on relegated clubs and help remove the situation of one or two clubs dominating the Premier League.However even he realises its unlikely as Premier Clubs broke away from sharing money and regard themselves "as individual corporate beasts hungry for money,competing in the jungle against each other"(page 374).

Obvivously the book will appeal to diehard fans of football but could also interest those with only a passing acquaintance of the game.It serves as a good introduction to the current state of the game both from a business and fans view.The bibliography at the end of the book provides the reader with the resources for further study.

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