Sheffield – an underperforming city

RUN YOUR finger along the list of Premier League towns and cities and there’s a glaring omission – Sheffield. Not just because the city has a rich football heritage is the absence of a team from “steel city” notable, but also because the only place with a bigger population than Sheffield in the current list of 20 clubs is none other than London. Sheffield has a population of around 558,000 and its total metropolitan area is 1.6 million, making it the third largest English district by the number of people.

When you consider that statistic, Sheffield, as a football city, has certainly underachieved, with just 13 major trophies won by its two significant professional clubs – United and Wednesday.

Sheffield’s links to football date back to 1857, when Sheffield FC was formed, a club that today claims to be the oldest existing club still playing the game. The formulation of the Sheffield Rules took place in 1860, giving Association Football the basis for the code that has stood the test of time.

To see the video from TIFO, click here

The pros and cons of a European Super League

GOTP has worked on another video with TIFO Football, this time on the concept of a European Super League.

Very few people can be happy about the clandestine discussions that may or may not have taken place over the past year involving certain clubs to create a closed football league comprising the wealthiest names across the top five nations. A “super league” is what they are calling it, but effectively, it is a cartel of the “super rich”, a group driven by asset gathering and entitlement.

That’s what this particular project amounts to, but in some ways, the time may be right to introduce a better competitive balance to European football. This latest proposal, or seed of an idea, is not the way to achieve that.

It’s an embarrassment for the clubs that have been named as leading the dialogue, why else would the denials have started? “We know nothing about it,” is the message some clubs are releasing, but smoke rarely billows out of a chimney unless there is a fire of some sort.

At best, this looks like another attempt to squeeze more money out of governing bodies and TV broadcasters.

There’s an element of naïveté about the behaviour of these clubs, if only they realised it. Although the fans of this elite group will support any new venture selling itself as the leading football competition in the world, deep down they will know that for the good of the game, it is damaging. It will also make these clubs extremely unpopular outside their loyal fan bases. It is being described as the death knell for domestic leagues across the continent but it could also force the game’s governance to implode, spelling the end for some administrations.

Yet the concept of a Super League itself should not be the root cause of a tidal wave of destruction. But the introduction of a “closed league”, something which is almost alien to developed and sophisticated football nations, would remove one of the key elements of football as we have known it for over 100 years. Relegation is painful, especially in this age of inflated TV deals for premier divisions and the big clubs jealously guarding their riches. Any structure that is “closed” will allow them to keep hold of their financial advantages.

To see the TIFO video, click here.