Saturday, March 13, 2010

Campaign For Sensible Divisional Names

Is there one of these? If there isn’t then there should be.

The game needs to be reconnected to the supporters in all sorts of fundamental ways because it has become too distanced from them and the traditions on which the game has been built. We can start by getting back our proper divisional names.

This of course will mean the abolition of the Premier League; in name at least. I’d like to see them go the whole hog actually but that won’t happen so just 86ing the name will do for now.

For too long we have had to tie ourselves in linguistic knots using terms like “second tier” and “top flight” when trying to contextualise the modern game. It was all so much simpler when we had the old Divisions 1 through to 4. I’m not a Luddite though and I am not adverse to progress but it has to be meaningful, relevant and in tune with the rich historical tapestry which makes English football what it is.

That said I would quite like to see the Blue Square Conference (now that is also a silly name) renamed as “Division 5” because with automatic promotion and relegation between the BSC and the 4th tier means that that is what it is.

I can’t help but think back to the Greatest Book I Ever Owned which was a Purnell’s Encyclopaedia Of Association Football. It was a very big (or was it just that I was very small which made it seem like that?) hardback book which covered just about every aspect of world football. It was packed with interesting articles, reports of important historical matches, great photographs and, this is the clincher, reams and reams of stats: all the teams ever promoted and relegated, cup winners, league tables and so on. I spent hours and hours poring over the lists packed with strange team names Middlesbrough Ironopolis, Accrington Stanley (who have resurrected themselves since then), Blackburn Olympic, Old Carthusians and, of course, Plymouth Argyle. My point being that the deeds of all teams were instantly comparable. The “Division 1” won by the Preston North End (there’s another one) in 1890 when they became the only team ever to go through a season undefeated in League and Cup would be confused with the 3rd tier (grrrr) now.

It is all just too confusing and completely unnecessary. It was initially brought about by the resignations of Arsenal, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea, Coventry City, Crystal Palace, Everton, Ipswich Town, Leeds United, Liverpool, Manchesters City and United, Middlesbrough, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Oldham Athletic, Queens Park Rangers, Sheffield United and Wednesday, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur and Wimbledon (Arsenal, Forest, Palace, Spurs, Wednesday, QPR and Villa all also have wonderfully rich nomenclature!!) from the Football League to set up the Premier League in an act of naked self-interest which 17 years later has seen Wimbledon disappear completely, Palace teetering on the brink of bankruptcy at the moment and various financial catastrophes beset Ipswich, Leeds, Wednesday and Southampton and which also sees Manchester United and Liverpool straining under the weight of outrageous debt levels running into hundreds of mi££ions. If they thought that they were setting themselves up for long term success then only 9 of the 22 are still in the top flight so it didn’t work for most of them, did it? Serves ‘em jolly well right too!!

Anyway let’s see a return to Divs 1, 2, 3 & 4 (and maybe even add a 5) and let’s lose the stupidity that is the “Premier League” and “Coca Cola Championship”; let’s reclaim a little of our game even if it is only the usage of the labels attached to it.


At 10:03 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may think "Blue Square Conference" IS a silly name. As that isn't the name of any league in this country I fail to see what you are talking about? Do you mean Blue Square Premier, Blue Square South or Blue Square North?

At 11:42 am, Blogger Babararacucudada said...

Blue Square Anything is a silly name but I meant "Premier".

I should have looked it up. I was thinking of "The Conference" as in GM Vauxhall (which is also a silly name).

I suspect you knew full well what I was talking about regardless but thanks for the anonymous comment whoever you are.


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