Football as a sport has simply come on leaps and bounds since its initial conception and the birth of England’s competitive leagues. From traditional brown leather balls and long shorts that went down past the knee, to modern day rabona flicks and ‘selfie’ inspired goal celebrations, football has simply been there and done it all. It’s winding evolution has led the sport to become the most watched across the world, and with such obscene amounts of money casually drifting between different hands behind the scenes of the game, football is now bigger than it ever has been.
Whilst such investment has obviously propelled the beautiful game to a whole new height, the impact companies such as Sky have on the sport aren’t quite as cut and dry as they may seem.
Yes – the intense hype created by TV firms certainly adds to the excitement of it all, ‘Super Sundays’ remain a must watch for all die-hard fans of the sport, and many people wouldn’t know how to spend their transfer deadline day if it wasn’t for Sky Sports News freshly delivering all the ill-fated rumours, but most of the time, these bonuses only really deliver on paper.
On many occasions throughout the season, hotly anticipated Super Sunday games often don’t match the hype that they are billed with, transfer deadline days can turn out to be much ado about nothing (see this season’s January window as a clear example), and the whole trend of foreign investment created in this new footballing era has done very little for the progress of home-grown players and the England national team.
Within such a debate, do Sky deserve credit for lifting football to the lofty heights it enjoys today, or has the TV age seemingly killed the local glory of Premier League football, in order for big teams with big names to compete intercontinentally in the Champions League?
Whether you are in favour for TV companies such as Sky continuing their business or not, the money they have injected into the Premier League has been nothing short of staggering. Although the investment is not always directly produced by Rupert Murdoch’s famed company, the impact of widespread global television coverage has given English teams over to a wider audience, created a source of income that is not necessarily form related, and turned once small scale English clubs into worldwide brands and institutions.
The signing of players from the far east, predominantly for marketing reasons, has been just one of the many examples to arrive since the TV era in football, which has turned the game from a weekend hobby into a strict 24/7 business. Foreign faces and exotic stars simply go a long way in pushing the hype of the Premier League. They certainly create more interest in English clubs across the board, but as their arrivals must come at a sacrifice, many would be home-grown talents are finding their first team opportunities increasingly rare as a result of the trend.
Whilst every league in Europe flirts with foreign stars to a great extent, the Premier League in particular goes the furthest, with the Bundelsiga, La Liga, Serie A and Ligue 1 systems all seemingly less keen to oust their own nation’s respective stars in return for commercial friendly foreigners.
Such money may be beneficial for broadcasters, media and chairmen throughout the leagues, but it’s the supporters who seemingly have to pay the greatest price. England again lead the way in ripping off the fans at the bottom rung of the ladder, charging crazy amounts to see Premier League ‘stars’, and miserably falling behind its counterparts in the rest of Europe in terms of supporter’s rights.
That simply seems to be the way things have gone, however. Although many tweaks can be made in regards to how the game is run, both politically and publicly, today’s footballing world seems not only in favour of Sky’s contribution, but heavily reliant upon it as well. The company have become too powerful to simply knock down a peg or two.
Seeing as the rise of internet streaming and the downloading of matches has also become increasingly popular in recent years, perhaps Sky’s days at the top are ultimately numbered and their influence will not last forever. Their impact remains powerful nonetheless, and by the time the famed company finally loosen their grip on Premier League football, hopefully it will still all be about the game itself, and not just about the money and false hype that has jumped on for the ride.