The great news for football fans is that the new season starts tonight. Exclusively live on Sky Sports comes an exciting clash between Crystal Palace and Arsenal. To repeat an old ‘joke’, I literally can wait. In fact, I can wait until Match Of The Day comes on, or more likely I won’t watch it at all. And why won’t I watch it? Because I am not remotely interested in either club. It is possible to watch a game as a so-called ‘neutral’ and with some luck find some reason for one team to win or the other to lose and I’ve been there and done that. No more. My life is rushing by far too quickly as it is. There’s only so much of it I willingly want to waste.
When I said “the new season starts tonight”, of course it doesn’t and didn’t. A substantial part of it, the second, third and fourth tiers, started a week ago, in July for goodness sake, but to much of the media and to many ‘supporters’, anything outside the Premier League doesn’t count. Non league football, all the way down to parks football, is many weeks away because the reason why the professional season has been brought forward – the winter Human Rights World Cup – won’t be greatly impacted.
We still have Sky and BT Sports on our rip-off Virgin Media TV package, but for how much longer, I don’t know. Essentially, we are shelling out a small fortune so we can watch Liverpool FC playing football, Wigan Warriors playing rugby league and Bristol Bears playing rugby union and pretty well nothing else. If I could get a TV package which only covered those three clubs’ games, I’d willingly take it, if it saved me money. But Virgin – other rip-off providers are available – employ clever pricing methods which mean it’s a choice between something and nothing.
I saw a preview for Sky’s admittedly very good football coverage the other night and scouse pundit Jamie Carragher asserted “We are better than BT.” Someone pointed out that Sky doesn’t have the Champions League to which Gary Neville replied, with an uncharacteristic tin ear, that, “You can watch that in the pub.” Well, there is one (crap) pub near me that shows Sky’s football but they also charge well in excess of £5 for a generic lager or fizzy generic ale. If you are choosing between heating and eating, a lengthy trek to watch two clubs you don’t particularly care for might be interpreted as unnecessary spending. I don’t like to criticise Neville because he comes across as an all right kinda guy, but I suppose when you are surrounded by the trappings of great wealth it must be easy to forget that most of us aren’t.
There was a time not long ago where I could tell you with reasonable accuracy the details of virtually every league game for the coming weekend, but now I can only name two. Palace v Arsenal, because the BBC website told me and Fulham v Liverpool because I like – I am not a fan, not a supporter; I just like them – Liverpool. I have no intention of going to a Liverpool game, never mind any other professional game, and if I get a better offer – a trip to a record shop, a country pub, a golf course – then I’ll take it. This proves I am not a supporter. I’m just one of those tiresome armchair inexperts who real football fans, like I used to be, despise.
As I write, I see before me a gorgeous blue sky with just a few puffy white clouds to spoil the view. Football? Not right now, thanks. Next month? Almost certainly yes, when local football resumes and I’ll see the game at its purist, which won’t involve wearing sunglasses and shorts.