The Premier League is the pinnacle of club football domestic leagues, it has the highest standard amongst its top flight teams and a crazy loyal following amongst all 20 teams as well. So how can it become bigger and even better? Well the big TV execs in charge need look no further than how the Premier League was broadcast during the pandemic in the 19/20 and 20/21 seasons, in which all teams matches were shown at varying different times over the week, with little if any overlapping fixtures. This format was brought in to appease the fans who could no longer attend matches in person, but the system actually suited the Premier League as a whole, it made it a great viewing spectacle, very similar to international tournaments in how the viewer gets to enjoy essentially a festival of football one day after the other. This is common practice in many American sports, such as, Baseball, Basketball and Ice Hockey and it makes viewing those sports far simpler for viewers in Europe, who can enjoy at least some games at a reasonable European time rather than having to settle for a US start time of say 5pm for all of its teams, making it too late to view for Europeans who may have work the next day.
Now some of the arguments against this kind of proposal, is that it would stop fans actually going to the games, that’s exactly why the Premier League’s 3pm watershed was brought in, but in actual fact the fans will always go to the games, because they are there for the atmosphere, the spectacle that comes from viewing the match in the flesh, its a hobby for them, one that is carried down from generation to generation and that will never stop regardless of whether the matches are broadcast on the TV. After all it is cheaper to get a Sky subscription than it is to pay for match tickets and travel expenses each week. Fans WILL always go to matches.
With a more American approach to broadcasting the Premier League, it would help the broadcasters attract new customers, something Sky and BT Sport consistently fight for, it would also appease the critical would-be customers of the two, who believe they are not getting their moneys worth considering their team may seldom get shown live on TV, as is the case with the current system. For example lets say Watford fans who live in the North of England, miles away from Vicarage Road in London, who do not have the luxury of being able to go to every game, and with the current broadcasting system they would hardly ever see their teams matches, unless they play one of the Big 6 teams, or a late season relegation rival. By showing every teams fixtures over the course of the day, you can guarantee fans will want to sign up for Sky and BT Sport because it gives them access like never before to their teams matches. It is the way of the future, or in the case of Americans the way it has been for decades, time for the Premier League to catch up or rather cop on.
2021 is finally giving F1 fans a drivers championship that it has been longing for since 2018, one where Lewis Hamilton does not have the outright best car. This season Max Verstappen and Red Bull have made incredible strides forward in car development and hope to finish the Turbo Hybrid era (which has been dominated by Mercedes and in particular Hamilton) end with a new champion. This season has been neck and neck which is what fans love to see and the each race weekend offers up something different from the usual Hamilton 1st and Fastest lap ahead by 20+ seconds that we have seen in the last few seasons. Verstappen and Hamilton are developing a rivalry for the ages, the young upstart who finally has a car to sustain a title challenge, and the elder statesman who finally has a serious challenger. Hamilton hasn’t even had a title rival teammate since Nico Rosberg who retired after winning the Drivers’ Championship in 2016. Valteri Bottas looks for all intents and purposes to be on the way out of Mercedes in favour of the promising George Russell, but Bottas must be kicking himself that he has always been such a good team player when on paper he had the only car that could have beaten Hamilton the last few years.
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Anyways after the stellar season so far we came to THAT crash between the championship rivals. At the British Grand Prix Verstappen had taken Hamilton’s pole position after winning F1’s first ever sprint race, which Hamilton started first on the grid at. It was obvious for anyone who watched that sprint race that whoever led the Grand Prix on Sunday after the first lap would almost certainly win the race. Both drivers got off the line well and a back and forth carried on through the first few corners and then the Hamilton caught Verstappen’s slipstream heading up to the notorious fast Copse corner on the famous Silverstone track. Hamilton stayed right Verstappen went left and looked to be on the racing line. Hamilton’s front left clipped Verstappen’s rear right and put him into the wall at high speed, thankfully Verstappen is okay, but who was at fault? This has divided the F1 community, many pundits and drivers say racing incident, whilst many fans and Red Bull crew say Hamilton didn’t have the corner and should have backed out.
Personally I am of the view that Hamilton should have backed out, he was behind heading into the corner and he didn’t go nearly as close to the Apex as he did later in the race when he was attempting to pass Charles Leclerc to win the race. Leclerc funnily enough had placed his car in the exact same spot as Verstappen which is the optimal racing line in Copse corner. So with Hamilton causing the crash, he should have been punished more severely, a 10 second penalty to be enforced at his pitstop is the second lightest penalty possible after a 5 second penalty. The FIA really screwed the pooch on this one, and one can’t help but think its to maintain a close title race. It was a dangerous collision and thankfully everyone involved is okay, but the FIA needed to punish Hamilton because after all he had taken out his main rival, yes it wasn’t as obvious as say a Michael Schumacher move on Jacques Villenueve in the ’97 championship which got him kicked out of the final standings. Hamilton would be licking his chops that he got away with a slap on the wrist and still had every opportunity to win his home race. It shouldn’t have been allowed. Just to finish off I strongly condemn the racist abuse that was directed towards Hamilton on social media, you can dislike a driver for how they conduct themselves or their ego etc, but to use racial slurs is disgusting and the people involved should hang their heads in shame, F1 doesn’t want you and it never will.
Employers should be ecstatic that employees want to get the covid vaccine, it means that things can get back to normal faster, and that is what all industries need and want right now. So why are some jobs making it difficult to get vaccinations for their staff and being petty when the staff start to suffer as a result of the vaccine? It is public knowledge that after the covid vaccine recipients will feel unwell for a few days, yet certain employers expect staff to go into work, get the jab and then immediately come back to work and continue to perform at the high and stressful levels that they were before they took a temporary debilitating vaccine.
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Employers such as Dunnes Stores is one example of a company doing this. Already a GP has gone viral on Twitter condemning Dunnes Stores’ practice of expecting workers to return to work and even make up for lost time spent getting the vaccine, the same vaccine that if the workers did not take, then the covid crisis would carry on for far longer.
Dunnes and indeed other companies are not rewarding their staff who worked the entire time through the pandemic, instead they expect more and more and yet wish to give less and less. Dunnes were the last of the supermarket chains in Ireland to give out bonuses to its staff as a thank you for its hard work throughout the lockdowns, and it continues that same form by refusing paid leave for workers to receive the vaccine. A first hand source involved in Dunnes has revealed that they were scoffed at by the Store manager for asking for the day off to get the jab, later a member of HR approached the worker and told them they could have the day off but at their own expense, a U-turn from what the Store manager had previously said when they claimed it was an ‘abnormal’ request. Its nice to see that the employers continue to lack compassion and understanding even in the midst of a pandemic, instead they carry on wearing their blinders and focus on making more money at the detriment of its staff’s health and wellbeing.
When the 12 ‘founding’ clubs of the breakaway European Super League announced their plans on April 18, to form a new, exclusive and commercially selfish continental competition, the football world was in disbelief. With such a level of disgust amongst fans, pundits and other clubs so profound it put incredible pressure on the 12 clubs. Just two days later in the wave of fans protests outside grounds the English clubs pulled out, followed shortly by Atletico Madrid in Spain and both the Milan teams in Italy. With the departure from the super league plans and subsequent bridges being rebuilt with Uefa by these clubs, it made the stance of the three remaining super league clubs quite shocking. Real Madrid and Barcelona of Spain, and Juventus of Italy have stood firm in their super league proposals despite threats of expulsion from Uefa competitions in the future. These three clubs are essentially the poison in football and its all down to their greed and lack of wanting to share the wealth.
Real Madrid and Barcelona have long dominated Spanish football, one of the two teams wins the league every year more or less, unless challenged every now and then by a pragmatic Atletico Madrid side who thrive in the underdog status. How Madrid and Barcelona dominate so much is not because they have better management or a smarter board. In fact Florentino Perez, Real Madrid’s chairman said himself that the super league would help Madrid recoup some of the 900 million euros worth of debt the club is in. So why is a club that is 900 million in debt and still continuously able to sign new players for astronomical fees and wages year after year? The monopoly. Madrid and Barcelona have created a monopoly in Spain by taking the vast majority of the TV rights for themselves. TV revenue is enormous in football and in Spain those two get more than everyone else, whereas in England (where the TV rights is actually the most lucrative) is shared equally among the 20 Premier League teams. Meaning champions Man City get the same amount of TV revenue as bottom of the table Sheffield United. That TV rights monopoly is exactly why Madrid and Barcelona are so persistent on remaining in the super league, they have a monopoly that makes them untouchable by smaller clubs and they do not want that to change. Sporting merit does not exist to Madrid and Barcelona, if it did they would share the TV money to other La Liga clubs, but they like their privileged position and their actions with the super league reaffirms that. Juventus is the most surprising of the three considering they are the only Italian team left in the super league. Their chairman Andrea Agnelli is cut from the same cloth as Perez though, and so the greedy nature of the two makes them steadfast in holding out because they view themselves and their clubs as untouchable.
If the domestic leagues want to make a true stand against this notion of having a high table with minimal opportunity of ever reaching it then they need to act how the Serie A has. The Serie A has threatened to expel Juventus and they should be applauded for it. Madrid and Barcelona feel no such threat from La Liga because they view themselves as bigger than the league, but they should be made an example of, call their bluff. Juventus has been kicked out of Serie A before due to the match fixing scandal in 2005 and 2006, the league survived without them because it has more than just one team and more than one fanbase. La Liga should follow suit and kick out Madrid and Barcelona if they persist with this super league. Spain has lots of good teams capable of battling it out with top European sides, like Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, Real Sociedad etc. If Madrid and Barcelona were no longer in La Liga then some would argue the league has lost its fans , but say that to the other 18 teams or the teams in the second tier vying for promotion. Real Betis, Valencia, Sevilla, Athletic Bilbao and Atletico Madrid all have large capacity stadiums for a reason because their fan base is large, that won’t change because Madrid and Barcelona are not there. If anything those teams could thrive and a restructuring of the TV revenue that spreads it equally among the 20 teams who make up La Liga would ensure that a monopoly is not created again. La Liga has a chance to restore its league to one of sporting merit and fairness, the ball is in their court not Madrid’s or Barcelona’s lets see them follow the Serie A approach and show the fans of other clubs that one or two teams are not bigger than an institution.