Otra Liga es posible

An Iberian proposal would slash wage costs, free up time and talent for cashflow-friendly shagshow opportunities, and assimilate football to mainstream Peninsular cultural practice.

My interlocutor isn’t exactly the sharpest cuchillo in the cajón, but since he spends most of his waking hours watching soaps and football repeats I think his thoughts on the future of top-flight football are worth considering in their totality and without added colouring or flavouring:

No, but why they have these competition? I mean, is so stupid: all these team their player very rich and only one team win! Why they bother?


This I construe as an infinitely subtle hint that, with the competitive element removed, ballet-with-balls enterprises could employ far cheaper and more photogenic “players”, with other benefits including increased female attendance and income from wife-swapping media spinoff sagas. Whether or not there is any truth in the rumours that Zapatero, fresh from his triumph over the Anglo-Saxons, is going to ban the Protestant Work Ethic, my friend surely he has a point. Still, I doubt that he has in mind the non-competitive football popularised in David Nobbs’ great satire of 1970s’ life, The fall and rise of Reginald Perrin, which someone once foolishly gave me for Christmas. I can’t find a precision quote, but this catches the mood nicely:

Colin Pillock: It’s my great pleasure to welcome back Reginald Perrin, the former head of the amazing Grot shops chain. I understand you’re now running a community called “Perrins”, Mr. Perrin?
Reginald Perrin: Yes.
Colin Pillock: It’s been described as a community for the middle-aged and the middle-class in what used to be Middlesex.
Reginald Perrin: Yes.
Colin Pillock: Tell me, Mr. Perrin, are you running this community for the benefit of humanity, or simply to make money, or is it a giant confidence trick?
Reginald Perrin: Yes.
Colin Pillock: I hope you’re not going to tie yourself to this monosyllabic repetition of “yes”.
Reginald Perrin: No.
Colin Pillock: Oh good, because our viewers might think it a waste of time for you to come here and say nothing BUT “yes”.
Reginald Perrin: Yes.
Colin Pillock: So, which of them is it, Mr. Perrin? A social venture for the benefit of mankind? Purely a commercial venture? Or a con trick?
Reginald Perrin: Yes. It’s all three of them. That’s the beauty of it.
Colin Pillock: What kind of people come to this community?
Reginald Perrin: Well, at the moment we’ve got a stockbroker, an overworked doctor, an underworked antiques shop owner, a disillusioned imports manager, and an even more disillusioned exports manager. Three sacked football managers, a fortune teller who’s going to have a nervous breakdown next April, a schoolteacher who’s desperate because he can’t get a job, a schoolteacher who’s even more desperate because he has got a job, an extremely shy vet, an overstressed car salesman and a pre-stressed concrete salesman. People with sexual problems, people with social problems, people with work problems, people with identity problems. People with sexual, social, work and identity problems. People who live above their garages, and above their incomes, in little boxes on prestige estates where families are two-tone, two-car and two-faced. Money has replaced sex as a driving force, death has replaced sex as a taboo, and sex has replaced bridge as a social event for mixed foursomes, and large deep freezes are empty except for twelve sausages. They come to Perrins in the hope that they won’t be ridiculed as petty snobs, but as human beings who are bewildered at the complexity of social development, castrated by the conformity of a century of mass production, and dwarfed by the immensity of technological progress which has advanced more in fifty years than in the rest of human existence put together, so that when they take their first tentative steps into an adult society shaped by humans but not for humans, their personalities shrivel up like private parts in an April sea.
Colin Pillock: I, er, I see…
Reginald Perrin: Not too monosyllabic for you, I hope?

Sport where everyone is a loser was, I believe, later introduced as official policy, not in Spain or Portugal, but by Ken Livingstone’s GLC. Stay off that cultural determinism, lads.

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