DAVID CONN is one of the best writers when it comes to getting to the roots of the problem and this book, first written in 2004, explains why football is what it is today.
The Beautiful Game? – Searching for the Soul of Football – is not a book that makes you feel good about the game, or some of the people involved in it. There’s too many examples of individuals taking as much as they can out of the sport in terms of financial gain – this book explodes some of the myths and doesn’t paint a particularly good picture of people like David Dein, for example, the former chairman of Arsenal. And let’s not forget, this was 2004, the real growth and decadance in English football has really arrived in the past decade.
All through the book, you get the impression that football outside of the Premier really does not pay anymore. Financial crises run deep through the lower divisions, casting genuine doubts about whether some of the nation’s old, established clubs can continue for another 100 years.
Conn’s story ends as Chelsea have just been taken over – since then we’ve had Manchester City, PSG and others that have changed the shape of football. But this book really did put some writing on the wall, outlining the excessive demands of the top clubs when it came to TV rights and the unbalanced distribution of wealth. If the game was in danger of losing its way back in 2004, it is surely now wandering through the forests, Hansel & Gretel style, not fleeing bogey-men, but actually courting them.
An update, a proper revision, is surely overdue, for nobody chronicles better the side of football we don’t hear too much about than Conn – even if he is a City fan!
Meanwhile, though, this book is mandatory for anyone interested in the health and the pitfalls awaiting the world’s greatest spectactor game.
The Beautiful Game? By David Conn, is published by Yellow Jersey Press.