Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Anyone that knows AFTN, and regular readers of this blog in particular, will know that we're not the greatest fans of top flight football at the best of times, or rather the mechanics behind the business end of it all.

As East Fife fans, I think it's naturally in our DNA to love watching lower league and non league football, in the smaller, more intimate environments. Or in other words, games where naebody turns up.

That's not to say we don't enjoy watching games from the English Premiership, because we most certainly do. Or at least did, until this season.

I've been finding it increasingly hard to get excited about this season's Premiership campaign.

For those that don't know, I'm currently a Scottish ex-pat, enjoying life in the new climes of North America. We've covered this fact before in AFTN, so for those that have heard it before, please bear with me.

Over here, we get an abundance of live and as-live football. Every top league you could imagine and also the SPL! European, Mexican, South American, even the A League down in Oz. The English Premiership is obviously the big draw and we get an amazing amount of games.

Every weekend, every game is basically shown in full at some point in the schedule. They draw big audiences. To put it in perspective, the recent MLS Cup final drew half the audience in the evening that a run of the mill EPL game had drawn that morning.

On a Saturday we get the early kick off game live, two or three 3pm kick offs live, and the teatime game live. We also get both the main Sunday games live, unless there's something like a Celtic-Rangers game to be shown instead. All the other games are shown, usually one after the other, in full.

That's a feast of football, of that there is no doubt. Sure it can be a bit of a football overload, and the pain in the ass that is the kick off times can be inconvenient, but hey, that's why PVR's were invented right?

This season though, I've found myself flicking through the TV guides on a Friday night and thinking "You know what? I really don't fancy watching any of these games in full". This results in me not getting up early to watch anything and not recording anything for perusal later.

Instead, I've found myself watching all the Championship games that have been on offer instead.

Even the games I do end up recording, I find myself just fast forwarding through and just watching the goals or any interesting incidents that catch my eye.

Now it’s got nothing to do with the football or entertainment on offer, on the whole. It's just that I can't muster up any excitement about the 20 teams in the Premiership this season.

I'll quantify that by saying right from the off that I'm a West Ham fan, so a lot of my interest went out the window right there and has turned to the Championship, which has been the best English League for excitement for years now anyway, and one which I've always followed closely.

The last few years we had the excitement of watching promoted teams like Hull City, Burnley and Blackpool try (and ultimately fail) to punch above their wait, as they end up in relegation dogfights that have provided twists and turns up to the final kick of the season's ball almost.

When Blackpool went down with the Hammers, I knew the writing was going to be on the wall for me with regards to watching the Premiership this season. Right there you were losing exciting football, underdogs and Ian Holloway.

Sure we have three new promoted clubs, but they're not exactly the underdogs the way the above northern contingent were.

Norwich are kind of blah. I do want them to stay up, as they are an unfashionable club and have a very promising Scottish manager at the helm. I know that when it's getting to the end of the season, if the Canaries find themselves in a relegation battle, that will be enough to get me to tune in, but just not right now. Last season I went out of my way to watch every Blackpool game in full.

The way Norwich are going they could find themselves safe without any need for a dogfight, which is great for them and all smaller clubs with strange aspirations to just stay up.

The same is true with Swansea. I also would love them to avoid the drop, primarily because they're not English!

Then you have last season’s Championship Champions. There is so much to dislike about QPR. They had the big foreign money investment and splashed the cash. Also, how can you cheer on any team that has Queen AND Rangers in their name?!

Existing teams like Wigan, Blackburn and Bolton don't exactly get the juices going when you see the fixture list for the weekend ahead. And if they're playing each other, then just forget it.

At the top, it could get interesting if Spurs keep up their charge. The football they played at the weekend was breathtaking to watch at times. Still hard to like them though.

If Man City run away with the title, which I think they will have all but wrapped up by the end of March, then it's going to be an even less exciting Premier League run in than we get in Scotland most years.

So for now, my disinterest in this season's Premiership will continue.

I will watch games of the top sides battling it out, even though they usually end up just disappointing and not living up to the expectations. I'll tune in for any interesting derbies or games with some player animosity thrown into the mix.

And I’ll sit here hoping above hope that West Ham, Blackpool and an unlikely club like Brighton, fill this season’s three promotion places come May. Not sure I’ll be getting that wish in full.

On the whole though I'm going to be relying on the good old Beeb's 'Match of the Day' to cover the day's games and keep me up to date with all things Premier League.

It's like I've been transported back to my childhood days of the 70's, as I avoid the day's results until I can settle down to watch it.

And you know what? It's been really refreshing.


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