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"Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play…it is war minus the shooting."

George Orwell

Game changer

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Mihir Bose, Singapore, Marshall Cavendish, 2012. ISBN 978 981 4328 18 0

The book describes the formation, growth and international influence of the Premier League. For anyone who has lived through the period of the Premier League, the book is fascinating. If you are too young to remember life without Sky, Monday night football and the days when all the games were at 3.00pm on Saturday, you will be amazed at the revolutionary changes brought by the Premier League.

The book is written by an observer of the Premier League since the beginning and is based also on many interviews. Having access to Rick Parry’s notes adds a great deal of inside information. The account of how Sky overcame the frontrunner ITV to gain the TV rights reads like a best selling novel.

While the book charts the history of the Premier League there are any number of insightful, almost sections in parenthesis, on such things as:

Racism in football then and now;

Chris Powell as a pioneer black manager;

The sacking of Andy Gray;

The impact of the Bosman case;

The Cantona disciplinary case.

It is fascinating to know that Sky offered referees goal-line technology, 20 years ago:

“ Ken Ridden, the FA’s director of referees, reacted as if he had been assaulted”. That leads the author to comment: “Football’s Luddite reaction to television has meant of all the major sports, football is the only one that does not use technology to help its officials on the field of play”.

There is an excellent analysis of the finances of modern Premier League clubs and the predominance of foreign ownership: “The English may have created a worldwide football brand but should English rules or lack of them allow foreigners to exploit them?” His analysis suggested that there are even among the foreign investors “several ownership castes”.

The book is a great read and an absorbing one.

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