A game played by gentlemen, but not for the fans

“Number 17, Manchester City will play number 32, Manchester United.  That concludes the draw for the fourth round of the Carling Cup.  Games will be played in week beginning 3rd December 2012 in The Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi.”

Far fetched?  Not as much as you may believe.  We have seen a growing trend of American sports playing regular season games over here in London in the past few years, with NFL being a regular fixture every Autumn at Wembley Stadium and in March the first NBA regular season games taking place at The O2 Arena.  But next weekend potentially the first step towards a trend of taking our regular season sport abroad takes place.  A step that will almost certainly lead to our beautiful game being prostituted overseas.

Rugby was once seen as the game that had its house in order.  Clubs seemed to be well managed and publicity stunts were kept on the pitch with the likes of music are scores, remote controlled cars bringing on kicking tees and games not being changed for TV.  Then things started to change.  Clubs started switching games to “neutral” venues for the sole purpose of selling more tickets – nothing wrong with that you may say, but would football fans ever tolerate games such as QPR playing Leicester City at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena simply so that the away team could bring in more fans, or stomaching an increase in season ticket prices from £99 to £300 in 3 seasons? Continue reading