Friday, February 21, 2014

Football's fate worse than death: stupidity

Relegation from the English Premier League is costly, we get it*. It’s therefore to be avoided – especially when you have spent (or are spending) a ton of money to get to your current elevated perch of seventeenth-best club in the nation.

For Chris Hughton, manager of Norwich City, apparently it’s more than that – it’s “a matter of life and death”. He’s been told that by his CEO at the Canaries, David McNally, so it must be true. Should his club fall into the relegation zone, his position becomes forfeit and the club will spuriously employ someone(s) else in an attempt to stop losing both matches and eventually money.

Norwich City fans have every right to be a “fine” with McNally’s statement. Death is not nice, even in a sporting sense. It would be a horrible thing to see the Canaries wink out of existence altogether. On the other hand, relegation merely would be a fiscal encumbrance (and would presumably lead to the knock-on departures of key players Gary Hooper, Leroy Fer and Wes Hoolahan).

There’s a difference between “death” and financially disadvantaged – even Paris Hilton manages to distinguish between the two.

Even though Norwich City are a club that don’t feature a Sugar Daddy, as a Premiership team they are privileged to receive a wonderful income as a result of their past successes in League One and the Championship. For a CEO to advertise the loss of those revenues as a tragedy akin to death is insensitive, arrant nonsense.

Taking death at its most simplest definition, McNally's comments are shown in an extremely poor light by the deaths of migrants working on Qatari stadia for the entertainment of football fans and fatuous glorification of the hosts.

In a sporting sense, comparing a season or two (or ten) outside the Premiership to ceasing to exist is … unnerving. It’s also an undeserved rebuke to the fans of Wimbledon, Darlington, Chester City or any club unfortunate enough to have folded during the Premiership’s money-hungry existence.

Philosophers don't come more unlikely than Arnold Judas Rimmer. Red Dwarf's cowardly antagonist was, however, on occasion wont to wax poetic and deep. In the final moments of the last episode of Season Six, he conjured up one of these moments stating "Better dead than smeg". With his greedy insensitivity, David McNally has apparently made the opposite choice.

* It’s both remarkable and extremely funny that an article on English football is posted under “highbrow sports”.

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