Chiefly the advent of the Premier League and the win-at-any-annual-percentage-rate mentality.
Why should this Magpied majority concern itself with ethics when Wonga, a firm that fulfils its social obligation by providing “fast and flexible short-term loans”, has not only poured money into their club via a shirt sponsorship but also vowed to reinstate their stadium’s proper name?
Do not talk to them about the rights and Wongas as they celebrate the biggest sop since God allowed Lot to take home that pile of salt for the pantry.
For the success-starved fan nowadays it is plainly a case of better the devil you owe. Certainly St James’ Park has a better ring to it than the Sports Direct Arena, even if the ring is of tills throttling the hard-up for 4,200 per cent APR.
That is those mugs’ problem. Granted, there will be the rather confusing
Just think, the more Wonga make out of it, the more they will put back into it. There could be Geordie diehards losing their homes in the knowledge that while their wife and kids might suffer, the club will ultimately benefit. Now there is sacrifice for you. Howay the bailiffs!
Yet do not moralise, look around. Wonga is already proudly emblazoned on the chests of Blackpool in the Championship
and Hearts in the Scottish Premier League. And why not? Bookmakers, casinos, High Street banks even, have long been shirt sponsors and do they not prey on fans with the same intention as Wonga? Needs must and so must greed.
Yet while he who pays the piper calls the tune, is not it allowable to regard that tune as grotesquely discordant? It seems not. Voice displeasure, disquiet or disgust at any of the latest investments in British football and you are blown over by a hail of ridicule.
The detractors are told to live in the real world, stop being so naive and recognise that the game is all about money now. It does not matter if it comes from Russians with dubious CVs, Americans with dubious credit ratings or Oriental characters with both.
All that counts is the greenback the chief executive can count. Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to chant and buy. Start questioning and you stop dreaming. Sell your soul or your star striker.
When will it come to a shuddering halt? Only when the
Is there anything more dreary in the season than an international weekend, notwithstanding a League Cup Tuesday? They drag on with their now-traditional intrigue and retribution from the England camp, while in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland they simply fester in the gloom.
At least the fans of the last three Home Nations are under no illusion about the tedious mediocrity of these unqualified failures. The poor old England faithful, starved of their Premier League passion for a fortnight, troop along with their jaded jingoism regardless, while the rest of us press the fast forward on our lives to a week Saturday. Sundays are the worst. Nothing to do but listen again to Roy Hodgson’s positive prognosis. It is the biggest honour and the biggest turn-off at the same time.
Everyone knows the Premier League is king. We are prepared to put up with each sickening excess, with every transparent money-grab, for our weekly banquet. What is the alternative? Gary Cahill’s long ball to James Milner?
I ask you, what sort of person buys tickets to see England play San Marino on a wet Friday night in October at a stadium that remains torture to access?
The Football Association announced yesterday that the game was a sell-out. Imagine it. There will be three times more people at Wembley on Friday night than the entire population of England’s opponents. Maybe there was a spelling mistake and 90,000 gridiron fanatics will descend on north-west London hoping to see Dan Marino.
Still, as a parent I will agree that it is wonderful the FA had the foresight to reduce the prices for children. Particularly if they have misbehaved recently.