Big / Picture / Reality

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Ancient Greek Historian Herodotus tells of a moment in history when fealty was asked of the City States that populated the Mediterranean. Xerxes – Persian God King – wanted an offering of Water from the shores and Earth from the ground of each state as a symbolic representation of that submission.

Submission to Xerxes meant becoming a part of the Greater Persian Empire which – at the time – was no bad thing if one focused on the material benefits of trade and wealth that it generated but God Kings and edicts cut against the growing sense of Liberty emanating from Athens.

No messenger was sent to Sparta because when Xerxes sent messengers to Sparta they never returned but on being told of the demand by a fellow Greek King of Sparta Leonidas declined and ultimately was slaughtered for his trouble at the Battle of Thermopylae.

The retellings of this incident are many – “This is Sparta” and all – and the example echoes through the ages that surrender – even a symbolic one – was unacceptable to the Free.

Picture

Project Big Picture was an offer from the owners of Liverpool Football Club and Manchester United Football Club to the other eighteen members of the Football Association Premier League in which an agreement would be made that the revenues brought in by television right sales of that league would be more heavily redistributed towards the clubs who were not in the Premier League.

This change in revenues would allow for an instant payment of much needed funds for League One and Two clubs. The proposal would also make League One and Two football instantly more sustainable with £2.5m flowing to clubs who are at present only allowed to spend £1.5m on player salaries. Funds for a Women’s League would be assured, The League Cup and Community Shield would be abolished, Parachute payments, defended play offs and an eighteen team Premier League also featured.

The largest sticking point, it seems, was the extension of “Special Voting Rights” to the nine longest serving Premier League teams which was seen – as much of the project was – as a way to solidify the status of the “Big Six“. The respected Football Writers of our age – David Conn and Jonathan Wilson – described it as a power grab.

Power

Today in a League Two match Bradford City are playing Mansfield Town in front of another empty stadium. Thanks to great work by John Dewhirst – once of this Parish – and Jason McKeown and his There By The Width Of A Post website – also once of this Parish – we can tell that the emptiness in the stadium is largely reflected in City’s accounts.

Interesting in the results of Dewhirst’s work – which was neither surprising or unexpected – was the idea that Players and Good Will made up City’s assets with Valley Parade and everything in it sold and rented back. The City are paying the price for various mismanagements, we knew this going in.

To watch City’s team attempting to recover from a deserved defeat from Harrogate Town with the threat of non-existence over every club in the League highlighted by a stark look at the scale of a business at this level and one is forced to ask: If this is a Power Grab by Liverpool and Manchester United in what way does that power currently reside in League Two?

Again

John Henry at Liverpool and the Manchester United Glazers did not set up the Premier League. They bought into it and they bought into it because the League was entirely built on football’s embrace of neoliberalism. Key to that is the tendency towards monopoly which makes the amassing of power in the hands of an ever smaller collective a feature of the system.

Project Big Picture seems to recognise this centralisation of power and support the rest of football because of the inherent good of having the English football structure in place. To have an FA Cup winner you need an FA Cup and to have an FA Cup you need to support the FA and a five hundred teams and because the cost of that is negligible compared to the benefits for the powerful why not do it?

Henry and Glazer have put forward a plan which confirms the neoliberal system which has been dominant in football for thirty years. They want the “Earth and Water” Leonidas would not give up but they want it from a Football has already taken Xerxes’s offer.

Obvious

Football has submitted wholey to neoliberal economics.

Liverpool and Manchester United are not trying to grab the power from football because they clearly and obviously already have that power. There is a line in the pyramid of football clubs in which football clubs become largely irrelevant to the game as a whole. That line is certainly above Bradford City and perhaps has been for around one hundred years.

The idea that Liverpool and Manchester United have to take power from Bradford City is so absurd as to be laughable. The collective unionised weight of all of League One and League Two together stands knee height to those clubs. This should be obvious as it is obviously a bad, bad thing.

Now that all the power has been centralised and a paternalistic system offers support for the clubs that it has vampirically been created by draining the blood, that support will be denied.

And by whom? The Bloody Bourgeoisie. Always the bloody Bourgeoisie

Bourgeoisie

There is a class of clubs that live under the Top Six of Liverpool, Manchesters United and City, London Arsenal, The Tottinghams and Four Two Chelsea and I’m going to use “Sheffield Wednesday” as synecdoche but I could just as easily put in Leeds United, or Sunderland, or even Bolton Wanderers.

Sheffield Wednesday will not agree to Project Big Picture because they do not believe in this permanent enfranchising of the largest clubs in football which is noble of course except they are not outside of that enfranchisement so much as they are not benefitting from it as much as they would like. There is no attempt by Sheffield Wednesday to try create a flatter, more egalitarian structure in football. There is no attempt to address the neoliberalism that has created a structure in which the Bourgeoisie sit between the Big Six and the Proletariat that comprise the rest of football but rather a quixotic belief that unites the Bourgeoisie that they will one day ascend to the higher echelons themselves.

Leicester City – the actual team not a synecdoche – won the Premier League but are not welcomed into the Big Six not because of a covert plan to keep them out but because of the same market tendency that creates a Big Six. The idea that Sheffield Wednesday The Synecdoche want to maintain that power so they can one day attain it is madness.

This is a fantasy, a dream, and the rest of football should not have to pay the price for Sheffield Wednesday to LARP it.

Reality

League One and Two football has not survived. Project Big Picture is bad, patronising and paternalistic but it addresses the reality that the lower two professional leagues of English Football are not sustainable.

This reality has not been addressed by the Bourgeoisie because they benefit from being in the upper middle part of an unfair system. They are willfully cocooning themselves to the reality they are a part of creating.

Project Big Picture has been rejected, an offer of £50m in loans that followed has been rejected and there is no Sheffield Wednesday plan for rebalancing football. No attempt to create an egalitarian system after rejecting Project Big Picture because it was not egalitarian enough.

There was a chance that the clubs who took all the power in football might pay back for what they had taken. It is not what I want – I want an egalitarian system – but it is better than what I have now which is an unfair system of have and have-nots now propped up by the have-more-than-yous.

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