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The Camden Cad
Aug 24, 2004
North London
I hope you’ll ignore the sheen of cold sweat across my face today. I’m not ill, I’ve just been reading those interviews with Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore. It was a most disconcerting experience, rather like jumping into a cab and realising, as the engine roars and the locks slam down, that the driver is Henri Paul and he’s brought his hip-flask.

“Manchester United,” gushes our hero, “are one of the best-run clubs in the world.” Never mind the astonishing levels of debt, the £60m interest charges a year or the fact that the fans are so alienated that they can’t even bring themselves to wear their own colours, the Glazers have done, “a fantastic job“.

“I don’t fear for Liverpool,” he says glibly. “They can sustain what’s going on.” This is the Liverpool who are haemorrhaging money, are out of the Champions League, have a stadium that is too small, are hugely indebted, crippled by interest payments and have no leadership at any level of the club. Still, Pepe Reina’s been good, hasn’t he?

More nausea arrives when he dismisses “that Portsmouth thing,” as something that was bound to happen sooner or later. Of course it was, you mad fool. You’ve created a league where greed is good, where debt is daring and where all traditional models of business go out the window in a blind and unsustainable pursuit of impossible dreams.

Scudamore implores us to look at Tottenham as evidence of the league’s strength, but that doesn’t compute. Tottenham haven’t broken the status quo at all. They’ve just taken the place of a team who have self-destructed and may yet follow Leeds United in a pant-wetting freefall to the lower leagues. If Scudamore could just look up from his balance book for a moment, maybe he’d see that too. As wonderful as this season has been, the Premier League is precariously poised.

QUOTE - “Two years ago it (The 39th Game) withered on the vine of public opinion. If it comes back, it will be in a different guise.” - Scudamore prepares to sacrifice the integrity of the league on the altar of short-term profit.