Has the pandemic changed football forever?
06 Feb 2021 08:29 am, by YorkshireSquare
Good Morning. It's Saturday 6th February, and her are the latest headlines from Elland Road…
Are we in danger of losing the event of Saturday football?
Saturday used to be the day of football. Up and down the country, at all levels of the footballing pyramid games would be played. From Roundhay Park to Hackney Marshes, from Old Trafford to Elland Road games would kick off across the land. But here we are on another Saturday without a Leeds United game. It all started with the dawn of the Premier League of course, and Sky’s Super Sunday and Monday Night Football. But the majority of top-flight games were still played on a Monday at 3pm. This weekend sees only two games at 3pm on Saturday and having two on at this time is a rarity these days.
The Coronavirus pandemic has of course changed the way we watch football. With fans locked out of stadiums every game is now broadcast and kick-off times are staggered to ensure you can watch ten live games every weekend, should you have forked out for the three separate subscriptions you need to watch every game. But as much as watching football non-stop for 20 hours relieves the boredom it does mean football has become more of a commodity than an event.
There is something special about everyone playing at the same time, the league table changing by the minute, Sergio Aguero depriving Manchester United of the title in the 94th minute was celebrated with a cheer and a chuckle in the Kop at Elland Road. Are we in danger of losing football as an event, will it ever go back to the way it was or is it now the ultimate consumer product, available 24x7 at the flick of a switch?
Has the bottom dropped out of the transfer market?
This January transfer window was hard work for the 24x7 rumour mongers over on Sky Sports News. It was the quietest window in 9 years with Premier League clubs spending just £70 million. To put that into context Liverpool spent more than that on their own in January 2018 when they signed Virgil van Dijk for £75 million. The big move was Joshua King signing from Everton from Bournemouth and I find it difficult to get too excited about that, less so about West Brom signing Mbaye Diagne.
But even summer was subdued, aside from Chelsea of course. Leeds as newcomers outspent most in teams in Europe, even then only bringing in four players for the first team. With French football in the middle of a TV rights debacle which has seen games inaccessible to fans and Spanish football in danger of imploding financially has the bottom dropped out of the transfer market? Rennes selling Raphinha to Leeds for just £17 million appears to have been an opportunity for them to cash in with ever increasing financial uncertainty surrounding Ligue 1. Surely he is a £30 million plus player?
So, has the bottom fallen out of the market? Will it recover and spending hit the figures we have seen in recent seasons or have we hit a defining moment? Are Premier League teams best placed to exploit a weak market with its global pull and propensity to exploit every commercial opportunity going?