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December 10, 2013


Ian C

Fascinating - thanks.

Isn't sport now the leading edge of the crisis for neoliberalism? We can see all the signs of weakening competition and growing oligopoly. 'Sport' is now synonymous with 'football' - notice how BBC newsreaders announce that club x's manager has left, without needing to specify that they are talking about a football team. The Olympics was a brief reminder that other sports exist, but these are now sidelined again in coverage and funding. Football has become the Apple, Google and Amazon of sport. And within football, all the tendencies to concentration of power and limits on competition, long evident in Scotland, Spain etc, have been intensified by the Premiership and the new format of the European Cup, and by their integration with equally oligopolistic TV systems. In England, football has been outsourced to the rest of the world, and it is a concession to old-style localism that we still have games actually played here by global brand teams. I'd say the neoliberal elites of England badly need some unpredictable contests for the football Premiership. But unpredictability in this context means 'it'll be one of 3-4 mercenary assemblages of millionaires owned by extractive industry oligarchs'.

Will Davies

Yes, this is true. Football manages to straddle various dominant modes of competitiveness simultaneously - bodily fitness/wellness; finance; celebrity. As you say, the fact that the Premier League isn't actually very competitive as a league (this season being a very slight aberation) almost doesn't matter, so long as the game can serve as a lightning rod for various other forms of inequality-fetishism.

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