Newcastle v Man City sports washing derby: It was if you step back a degree or two, a brilliantly entertaining match, with six goals, countless other chances, a raucous crowd, and a result that belied the visitors and the previously assumed magisterial qualities of the pre-season. But some doubts were raised.
Favorite title Newcastle United vs Manchester City, two of English football’s greatest historic names, do battle at St James’ Park, steeped in the history of the game.
Except… it wasn’t, really, what was? Both of these names have been bought, and are now being used for something else entirely. The names of these football clubs are now somewhat different for the 21st century. They are brand names that are being used to wash reputations, a vision of a future in which light entertainment is packaged in such a way that it obscures the behavior of those who produce those particular products. owns the means.
It’s been a decade and a half since Manchester City supporters aren’t what they used to be, and it would be unrealistic to suggest they don’t like it. A club that hadn’t won a major trophy since 1976 before hundreds of millions of pounds of oil money intervened and hadn’t won the league since 1968 was suddenly back in the trophies. And in a world of sports where all success is somehow bought, why should they care about the origin of his funding?
Except in the age of social media, such concerns are important. Earning the respect and admiration of your peers for your success is one of the smaller joys of winning, but a joy nonetheless. And Manchester City still has the advantage of direct comparisons with Manchester United and Liverpool. Both these clubs, so the argument goes, are not remotely interested in ‘financial fair play. They only cared that they maintained the supremacy that maintained their control and power.
Manchester City, so the theory goes, get a soft ride because they’re not Manchester United or Liverpool.
Newcastle United supporters are yet to embark on the same journey, but it looks like they will be as lazy as Manchester City to buy their own success. Nobody hates Sunderland as much as many people hate Manchester United and Liverpool, and while the local rivals’ unpopularity with the rival’s fans has been good for City, for Newcastle. There is no such safety blanket. Their wins – especially if they have become as routine as City’s in the last four or five years – will simply be unpopular.
Because this is the problem that sports washing creates. On paper, Newcastle United v Manchester City should have been one of the more exciting games of the early season. The champions travel to a newly minted club with the pretense of being linked with the Premier League title and beyond.
But how do you even begin to get excited about Abu Dhabi vs Saudi Arabia unless you’re already emotionally invested in the colors they’re currently wearing? If you know that these two ‘clubs’ are now brands that betray the credibility of the governments that own them, doesn’t it all feel like a waste of time?
And he who brought money will take money. Newcastle United is no one’s second team anymore, and they are unlikely to be many again. In a country that favors the underdog, stuffing yourself with money is the last thing that will get you public sympathy.
Sunday’s match between these two clubs felt like a bit of a surreal spectacle at times. Much to admire, much that felt like there should be excitement, but ultimately a match with an oddly artificial feel, even for a modern Premier League match.
And understandably, supporters shouldn’t care. It’s hardly as if they had a choice, although the extent to which many Newcastle supporters went to bat for their government was somewhat disappointing. All morals are for sale if the price is right.
The owners there have even gone so far as to plaster the team in a third kit that seems deliberately designed to stick two fingers at all their critics, a sizeable proportion of the club’s support. is enthusiastically supported by Newcastle fans must have enjoyed the extent to which they are DGAF. Such sarcasm seems to be the language of modern times. But they should look a little more closely at what else they are DGAF about.
But no one is asking Newcastle supporters to ‘abandon’ their club, as has never happened to Manchester City, PSG, Chelsea, or any other club bought with state money and be fat A little more critical thinking was all that was ever called for, but dissenting voices in Newcastle, while there have been one or two, have been largely drowned out by the voice of Big Money.
But it’s already fair to say that a lot of residual love has flowed away with the Saudi takeover, especially since a large number of fans have proven time and time again that they are particularly concerned about human rights abuses. But did not object. Brutal legal practices, murder of dissenting voices, or any other truly stomach-turning issues until their football team gets rich.
It was not even a matter of life or death. After years and years of stagnation under Mike Ashley, it was just boredom. And what were Ashley’s ‘crimes’ then? Some restrictions after straight-back promotions as EFL Championship winners? Not spending as much money as they want – money that surely isn’t theirs? Even with the increasing scale of crime by the owners of football clubs, it was hardly selling a club’s ground from under its feet or financial mismanagement and near death in management, was it?
But getting mad at fans over any of this is probably futile and misdirected. We are all as powerless to control or change anything as each other, so much so that it often feels as if the entire professional game exists for the betterment of those lucky enough to enjoy it. Fortune can live, and pay for it with everyone.
The problem is a sport that has become so addicted to ever-increasing amounts of money that it lost most of its sense of moral compass decades ago. The problem is a league that was set up specifically to raise money for a small number of clubs, but which has found that once unfettered free-market economics let the genie out of the bottle. It becomes difficult to maintain competition. The problem is with the governing bodies who let this happen, their only main interest is their own control of the game and internal politics.