OK, perhaps “vaporize” is an extreme way of phrasing it, but following a series of smart-aleck tweets from Supporters Direct‘s Dave Boyle, the Premier League withdrew their funding from the fan advocacy organization, despite an apology and resignation from Boyle. In the view of the Guardian’s Martina Hyde, the draconian response from EPL Chief Executive was akin to “a reprisal so disproportionately brutal that it seems to be from the playbook of a petulant dictator, as opposed to football’s self-styled stewards of ‘the customer experience'”.
That Supporters Direct should be dependent on Premier League funding is one of those disingenuous quirks of modern life – the same type of corporate fig leaf that sees McDonald’s bound over to use an infinitesimal fraction of its wealth to fund the odd public health initiative, or include a half-arsed, virtually unpromoted salad on its menu. We’d do better to consider the wider context. And parsing Scudamore’s utterances, it is remarkable how often he appears to be looking askance at the supporter, most particularly those who have had the temerity to organise themselves in ways that buck his organisation’s preferred business model.
Time and again it is the open contempt for the consumer that shines through, with the call for the smelling salts after Boyle’s tweets preposterous in the extreme. When Wayne Rooney bellows “fuck” down the lens of a camera beaming the Premier League round the globe, the cynic in me suggests Scudamore is more than relaxed, most likely judging the incident burnishes the League’s fabled rough-and-tumble image – one of its most heavily-promoted USPs.
Yet again it feels relevant to observe that more football, in the manner in which the Premier League delivers it, has not made people more passionate supporters of the game. People talk in more bitter and disillusioned ways about football than they did before, and are profoundly aware of their meaninglessness to the vast corporate entities using their football fans’ financial support for often wholly unrelated purposes.