|photo by cpeachok||via PhotoRee|
Spurs' coumnist James checks in with a feature piece on Tottenham Hotspur, finished just in time to coincide with his first visit to the home office in quite awhile:
Brian Phillips has written an excellent article on Slate about the lack of parity in most international football (at least the leagues we here at farlieonfootie care about) compared with the American professional sports leagues, and the NFL in particular. Phillips raises some interesting questions, not the least of which is whether parity, in and of itself, is a good thing for both revenue and aesthetics and how, at least implicitly, its emphasis could be the result of cultural differences on either side of the pond.
Phillips, not surprisingly, highlights the remarkable disparity between the big teams that routinely win the Premiership and La Liga and those that do not. By now, we've heard this many times, but it bears repeating: the same three teams (United, Chelsea, L'Arse) have won the Premiership every season but one since its inception (the lone interloper not Liverpool, but Blackburn. Blackburn? How did that happen???) That's an incredible statistic and certainly reinforces an argument that parity is not a prerequisite for commercial success given that the Premiership is, by most accounts, the single most popular professional sports league in the world.
One thought, however, that came to my lilywhite-blinded mind while contemplating the article is the stupidity of the accusation -- not conveyed in Phillips' article, mind you, but being bandied about the web quite a bit of late -- that any recently converted Spurs fan is jumping on a bandwagon. And not only am I seeing a lot of this lately in the blogosphere, but yours truly has been accused of such conduct on this very site. On one level, this sentiment is understandable. With Spurs' enchanting Champions League campaign, the increase in popularity of the Premier League in the States (routinely generating record ratings here on both Fox and ESPN this year), Uncle Harry, Bale, VDV, et al., my unscientific research does reveal that Spurs have replaced L'Arse as the non-Manchester United team du jour for johnny-come-latelies Stateside.
But, puhhhlease do not accuse us of bandwagoning. Let me repeat: United, Chelsea, L'Arse (and Rovers once) is not a history that creates a bandwagon for any other teams' supporters, including Spurs. Period.
The reason for this is obvious: those three teams dwarf the others in terms of revenue. And the gulf is huge even for teams like Spurs and Villa which find themselves in the top 20 worldwide but are hundreds of millions of dollars behind the United/Chelsea/Arsenal behemoths. And revenue begets revenue - so that for every farlieonfootie around the world sporting Red Devil paraphenalia, there is a farlieonfootie Jr. following in his footsteps. I know this for a fact - I have met little farlieonfootie Jr.and his favorite player is Javier Hernandez, aka Chicharito. And soon, if his evangelism is even remotely as intense as Senior's, a lot of his little buddies will be sporting Red Devil paraphenalia, as well.
As for Spurs, I am becoming more and more convinced (especially after the January transfer window) that Spurs' participation in the Champions League this year - and whatever shot they have for next year - is due to one incredibly fortuitous situation completely beyond their control: the incompetence of Roberto Mancini. This line of thinking, however, also makes me even more proud of them.
With roughly equal - and in the case of City, far fewer - resources as the rest of the historically mid-table Prem squads, to at least be in regular contention for this sort of thing is a credit to Daniel Levy and Uncle Harry. With their cramped, ancient stadium and much lower worldwide profile, Spurs have had to work harder and smarter to get where they are. They have to be creative by, for example, engaging dual shirt sponsorships. They have to be clever by, for example, raising their PR metrics by engaging David Beckham. They have to be agressive by, for example, pursuing the Olympic Stadium opportunity and nabbing Van Der Vaart in a last minute transfer.
So haters, who are most likely supporters of teams lower in the table anyway, push your clubs to follow the example. Spurs have proven that while top of table most certainly will not happen, apparently consistent 4th or 5th place is eminently possible. And for all of us Spurs' supporters still rueing the failure to sign a striker, the West Ham draw (or the home loss to Wigan, for that matter), relax: our lads have done pretty darn well, all things considering. And if we get our new stadium? Well, watch out Man United. And yes, then, we will be bandwagoners.
This is farlieonfootie for April 2.