Des Kelly’s post-match interview with Jurgen Klopp on BT Sport wasn’t the first and won’t be the last time a manager blames a broadcaster for their crowded playing schedules and thus for injuries to players. We hear this sort of thing all the time from different parties.
On this occasion, Kelly’s response that “we (the broadcaster) are supporting the game” wasn’t quite right, however. The broadcasters do not support the game. He’d have been better saying, “We own you. You’ll play when we want you to play.” That’s the truth of it.
When it comes to the Premier League, the broadcasters own the game. It is theirs. Oh, they don’t want to couch it in those terms for PR reasons, but be in no doubt: they know that football dances to their tune and their tune only. They know who is master and who is servant.
The Premier League would love us to think it is global football’s big brand and thus somehow all-powerful, calling the shots as the only game in town. The truth is, it is the plaything of broadcasters, there to be used by those media companies as they so wish.
A word to the wise for all moaning managers: Do as you’re told. You are not the boss.
The economics of the top-flight clubs are entirely founded on TV companies paying huge rights fees to the league and the league divvying up the bounty to its 20 members. So the broadcasters have all the power in the relationship. It’s their money, they want what they want and you’re going to give it to them, whether you like it or not.
But some seem to forget this, or they don’t understand who is the organ grinder and who is the monkey.
If any club, manager or player doesn’t like when BT Sport or Sky want to broadcast games (presumably approved by the Premier League), then by all means turn down the rights fees money, cede from the league and set up one based largely on revenues from matchday income and not TV cash. You can organise that to suit your needs and no-one else’s. Fancy that? No, of course not. You like being phenomenally rich. Well this is the price you pay.
The Equal Share, the Facility Fees, the Merit Payments, Central Commercial revenues and international broadcasting revenues are all predicated on the TV people being able to show games whenever and wherever they deem it best for them to show them to their paying punters. If you don’t like that, you know what you can do.
So get back in your box and wait for the next huge tranche of money. Did you think you had any power? No. You exchanged autonomy for money. The deal is this: they pay, you do. You don’t get a choice.
And don’t give us the guff about the games not being as good if your players are injured or tired, that’s not how football works. We’ve all seen plenty of awful games between full-strength sides. You’re not special, your case is not different, so get 11 on the pitch and stop your sobbing.
Go and set up a European Super League if you like, but you will still have to fellate the broadcasters to get your massive money. Yes, you’ve got the c**ksucker blues because you’ve whored yourself to TV money, but that’s the price you pay for your wealth. Deal with it.
The Premier League and its clubs should know their place in the economic relationship that they profit so handsomely from. Whoever pays the piper calls the tune, and in case you didn’t realise it, the clubs are the piper and the broadcasters (and by extension, us, the viewing public) are paying you to play the tune we want. It doesn’t matter if it suits you or not. You’re not the boss.
This is what you get for setting up an economic model that is entirely craven to one source of money which, as a result, you cannot operate without. Did all the money make you deaf and blind to the reality of this situation? Well wake up and smell the filthy lucre.
Oh, it’s a game too much this week, or a couple of hours too early, is it? Yeah, well cry me a river. You’ve all got massive resources, with big squads of players and even more in reserve, so bloody use them. There you go, that’s your problem sorted. How hard was that?
You’re not in some uniquely persecuted situation. We have to go to work at all hours – if we’re lucky enough to have any work at all, that is. We work early shifts in hospitals, bakeries and markets; we work late shifts in shops and factories. We sail boats into the inky black stormy night. We work long hours for not much. We sit around all day on zero hour contracts, waiting for a phone call to tell us if we’ve got any work that day and can earn a pittance of money. No-one is doing it because it suits them, are they? No. They’re doing it to keep life and soul together and yet many choose to give *you* some of it. Yes, you. These are the same people whose TV subscription money you so massively benefit from. So any moaning Premier League manager needs to shut their yap; they’re in a ridiculously, obscenely privileged position and are taking the p*ss out of us with their minor complaints.
Because by the way, if *we* suffer injury as a result of all this hard work, we don’t get as much time off as is needed, on full pay, with the best doctors, medical treatment, physiology, fitness, exercise and psychotherapy facilities available to us any time we want it, and all for free. And still you’re bitching on TV about how terrible life is for you?
Of course the whole situation is ridiculous. But remember, you are only playing football to empty stadiums in a pandemic to procure the TV money you need to be able to keep paying you and your bloody players. That’s all. We know you’re not doing it as a selfless act of charity, we are not obliged to be grateful, nor to feel sorry for you.
We are living through a bloody terrible time, with people dying in their thousands every week and many more being sick. Lives are being torn apart in so many ways. As death stalks the land, managers going on TV to complain about the number of games being played, injuries and kick-off times are, to say the least, beating the wrong drum, at the wrong time, in front of the wrong people, for the wrong reasons.
Go away, take your money from your masters and play when you’re told to play, because hey, what are you going to do? Stop taking the money? No, I didn’t think so.