Watching the thumping Barcelona inflicted on Real Madrid at the Camp Nou in the Classico last night, my mind could not help wandering what major football clubs – including Manchester United, has in store for their fans in the next 10 or 20 years. A world wide audience of half a billion viewers – read that slowly, yes, 500 million, was estimated to have watched that game on television, internet, mobile phones and whatever else modern technology can provide. Ask yourself, what else will that same technology be able to offer us in the next decade or two?
A pioneering deal signed between Manchester United and Hong Kong based telecommunications giant PCCW this month has pretty much gone under the radar as far as most of the mainstream media has been concerned. Yet it presents a clear indication why club owners like the Glazer family and Liverpool’s Tom Hicks are absolutely determined to hang on to their prized asset despite piling on debts of millions upon millions of pounds on themselves and their clubs. Despite the efforts and prayers of so many football fans, those owners will go to any desperate measure they possibly can and are not likely to be going anywhere soon. If they do, they will simply be replaced by others – JUST LIKE THEM!
Football has undoubtedly changed in the last 30 or so years. The question that needs to be asked is whether it has changed for the better or whether it has chosen a road towards irrelevancy. Don’t get me wrong, football will still be played in front of huge television audiences but crowds in the various stadiums may well number in the hundreds instead of the thousands that currently pack places like Old Trafford.