demise of Setanta tells us anything, it is that the gap between the Big Four
and the rest is even bigger than we thought.
We all know
about the gulf in wealth between the Premier League's
haves and have-mores, but in terms of interest and support, the margin is even
needed 1.9 million subscribers to stay afloat, but fell well short principally
because their package of live rights did not include enough matches involving
the third-choice games, tucked away on a Saturday or a Monday evening, while
Sky continued to trumpet its Grand Slam Slam Dunk Home Run Shock 'N' Awe
Sundays with full Big Four privileges.
And that was
that. Because, at the end of the day, who is going to pay £10 a month to watch
Middlesbrough v Fulham or Sunderland v Portsmouth?
In the mass
market, people only care about the Big Four. It is the same story on this and
every other website.
articles involving the top clubs vastly outstrips the rest of the division. So
you only have yourselves to blame the next time you see an 'Alvaro Arbeloa breaks toenail' story on these pages.
There is a
second tier comprising Tottenham, Everton, Aston Villa, West Ham, Manchester City
and, er, Newcastle,
but the bottom tier is ratings poison - unless, of course, they are getting six
thumped past them at Old Trafford.
and what do you see? Knock-off English football shirts being sold everywhere. But
you won't find any 'Little 16'
shirts on that market stall in Marrakech. Apart from the odd anomaly like
Fulham's popularity in Korea,
it is a solid diet of big names.
One of the
more amusing consequences of the 39th game plan would have been Kuala Lumpur coming to terms with the fact that it had
been assigned Stoke versus Burnley.
For all the supposed financial might of English football, the Big Four
are propping everyone else.
secretary Andy Burnham has called for a more even distribution of wealth, but
already the big are subsidising the smaller to the tune of tens of millions per
Half of TV
money is split evenly, a quarter is based on performance and a quarter
on the number of televised matches. In 2007/08 Manchester United received the
most, £49m, and Reading the least, £30m. It is not parity, but it is a long way
removed from what each club could fetch if they sold their own TV rights on the
ED isn't calling for greater inequality - just for recognition
that the appeal of the Premier League is reliant on a worryingly small
percentage of teams.
change at the top? Chelsea
have shown that they can, but only if you have pots of cash and Jose Mourinho. A
decade ago, nobody would have put them in the country's
four biggest clubs.
Then a run of
seven consecutive top four finishes, four domestic cups and a Champions League
final made them hard to ignore. But Manchester City
must start winning things before they can truly refer to themselves as 'massive'.
Setanta's demise was painfully
predictable, Early Doors sympathises with the 200 people who have lost their
jobs (well, most of them - that Mourinho puppet can rot in hell).
Fans never took to Setanta because they didn't care about competition. Most of them already had
Sky, and now they were being asked to shell out more cash for the same
And they had to go to the pub to watch England games, a situation made
worse by the lack of any highlights package on terrestrial TV.
You have to say the writing was on the walls when travelling
England fans chanted "We hate Setanta"
during the away World Cup qualifier against Andorra.
It was the most virulent attack against a TV institution
since the Tartan Army unveiled their spectacular "We hate Jimmy Hill, he's
a poof, he's a poof"
here's a pub quiz question that may
rear its ugly head at some 'noughties' nostalgia night in the not-distant-enough future:
Which player was the subject of the final top story in the setanta.com football
Dinamo Zagreb striker Mario Mandzukic.
- - -
Douglas watch: After mocking Brazilian wunderkind Douglas yesterday,
Early Doors asked you to defend the name's
honour, and you obliged with a fine selection.
table tennis great Desmond Douglas
doctor Doogie Howser, M.D.
TV's most Scottish man Dougie Donnelly
Isle of Man
Hollywood royalty Douglas Fairbanks
Army chief Douglas MacArthur
right-back Douglas Maicon
giantkiller James 'Buster' Douglas
and man without a spade Douglas
President of Ireland
Actor and cleft
chin purveyor Kirk Douglas
and car park menace Doug Howlett
- - -
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Sometimes
you have to spend a little bit more. You can't
compete in the top four of the Premier League unless you spend some money. We
were looking for a player of quality and also somebody who is British because
of the new Champions League rules. Glen Johnson fits both categories." Rafa
Benitez does his best to convince himself that £17m Johnson is a bargain.
VIEW: Another Manchester United transfer target looks like slipping through
their fingers if you believe Marca (which you probably don't). Real Madrid have apparently given up trying to
sign David Villa and are instead in advanced talks with Lyon over Karim