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Dieser Artikel ist in der Ausgabe erschienen: Nr. 43/15  |  Freitag, 13. November 2015
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A product success story – Barclays Premier League football

Crazy, mad – sometimes sad

Taking a look at UK Barclays Premier League, SWZ-feature writer Geoff Barclay evaluates what is behind the phenomenal rise in the success story of a football based product – and realizes that tragedy played its part.

Bozen / Liverpool – Football in England is enjoying a popular surge. The product appeals. The Premier League is recognised as the ‘place to be’, and this whether you are a top player or a manager. With the recent arrival of Klopp at Liverpool FC the list of managers from different countries abroad just goes on increasing. There are 20 clubs competing and only two or three names of English born managers come to mind. So what is it which makes the spectacle fascinating and the sums of money invested colossal? Italy has certainly been left behind in terms of popularity when it comes to perfecting the product. The British character is a good place to start for the dogged determined manner of the Brits has that ‘never say die’ element which makes for 90 minutes of passion and adrenaline pumping action. Even the overseas players seem to get caught up in this fervour and the relentless pace of the game captures the imagination of spectators and sofa observers alike. All too often the first goal in a game in another country can signal that the result is set in stone – not so in the Anglo sphere where dynamic action and counter-threat persist until the final whistle. Perhaps it has something to do with the 19th century school and educational systems where wars were supposedly won on the playing field, such was the commitment and camaraderie demanded in sports. Another aspect is that feigning of injury is not ‘the done thing’ and as a result the game has an honesty and a continuity in play which makes it compulsive viewing. ‘He always played the game’ is a maxim much practiced to this day and when all the talk nowadays is of a ‘only results count’ nature the English version of ‘the beautiful game’ still finds space for endeavour, grace, and honesty.
Clearly, character is not a sufficient enough explanation of the resounding success of the round ball game as enjoyed in the Queen’s domicile, so what are the other decisive factors at play?
Sponsorship is surely a factor as television rights are fought over, franchising bids soar, and the income gained encourages the type of spectacular transfers bringing in top-rated players. The English game makes for riveting home viewing and the advertising companies are only too aware of the opportunities open to them.
Also the fact that in the last 20 years Britain has been considered a good place to do business, London of course being a colossal centre of finance and the very widespread diffusion of English makes for easy business exchanges.
Add to this the lifestyle attractions of the capital and the development of other cities such as Liverpool and Manchester as powerhouses recovered from the industrial plight of the seventies and eighties and the picture is an encouraging one. England, despite its weather, is where the wealthy want to be. And what did not really exist 20 years ago is now commonplace – overseas investment by sheiks, oil magnets and American franchises. So much so that some of the stadiums now carry different names – the home-grounds of Manchester City and Arsenal for example.
On a more somber note tragedy has also played its part in revamping the game as witnessed in Britain. Up until the nineties English football grounds had remained relatively unchanged for decades, open terraces being the order of the day, tens of thousands of fans thronging together in often uncontrollable spaces. The Heysel disaster in May 1985 was one which struck hard at the popular conscience. However even a couple of weeks before that ill-fated night in Belgium there had been a disaster of a different kind but with equally mortifying consequences. The Bradford City stadium fire was the worst fire disaster in the history of English football. It occurred during a match on Saturday, 11 May 1985, killing 56. The stand had been officially condemned and was due for demolition but fate struck first and mayhem ensued.
Four years on and it was the Hillsborough disaster in Sheffield which would change things forever. It was an incident at the FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest which led to 96 people dying. Dangerous overcrowding outside the ground resulted in the senior police officer responsible for the match ordering an exit gate to be opened. The ensuing influx of supporters caused crushing and the most ghastly of deaths for many supporters. The 1990 official inquiry into the disaster resulted in the elimination of standing terraces from all major football stadiums in England, Wales and Scotland. Since 1994 the top tiers of football in England, Wales and Scotland have needed to provide all seater stadiums.
So, out of unspeakable grief, a new concept came to be and since the mid-nineties the elements of danger and fan congregation have been largely eliminated. Stadiums have become a safer place for male supporters – and for females and families too. It is commonplace to see ladies at matches and whole families enjoying a day out. Effective stewarding and ground control have curbed foul language and racist outbursts and by and large the atmosphere can be defined as civilised. The whole match day experience is enhanced by the fact that knowing public transport and amenities around the ground will be safe and functional and the wheels of crowd organisation are many times more effective than 20 years ago – the age of advanced IT has had its influence too. The clubs also play their part, focusing on more community action in general and appointing ex star players as ambassadors to be present on match day and show spectators around and even have pre-match lunch functions and talks. Of course, the wealthy can enjoy their ‘boxes’, and corporate entertainment was incorporated into the structure of these modern stadiums. The product is reaping the benefits and consumer and manufacturer alike are enjoying happy times. Long may it last.
Infobox
Glossary
Barclays Premier League: höchste Spielklasse im Fußball (gesponsert von Barclays)
surge: Anstieg, Anschwellen
to appeal: Gefallen finden
dogged: verbissen
determined: entschlossen
never say die!: Lass dich nicht unterkriegen!
to make for sth.: für etw. sorgen
fervour: Eifer, Inbrunst
counter-threat: Gegenbedrohung
whistle: Trillerpfeife, Pfiff
feigning: Vortäuschung
injury: Verletzung
compulsive: zwingend, dringend
the done thing: etw., das praktiziert wird
to play the game: sich an die Regeln halten
to this day: immer noch
endeavour: Bestreben, Bemühen
at play: im Spiel
to fight over sth.: um etw. kämpfen
bid: Angebot, Wette
to soar: in die Höhe steigen
riveting: fesselnd
to be aware of sth.: sich etw. bewusst sein
widespread: weitverbreitet
plight: Misere
despite: trotz, ungeachtet
commonplace: Normalität, Gemeinplatz
so much so that: und zwar so sehr, dass
somber: düster, traurig
to revamp: aufmotzen
to witness: bezeugen
to throng: drängen
to strike: treffen
stand: Zuschauertribüne, Stand
four years on: vier Jahre später
influx: Zustrom
supporters: Fans, Anhänger
ghastly: schauderhaft
inquiry: Ermittlung, Anfrage
tiers: Reihen
to steward: betreuen
to curbe: drosseln, zügeln
by and large: im Großen und Ganzen
to enhance: verbessern
amenities: Vergnügungen, Annehmlichkeiten
to reap: ernten

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