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We Are Sunday League By Ewan Flynn

Release date: 12th July, 2017
Publisher: Pitch Publishing

List Price: £9.99
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Statistics and sport go hand-in glove, but one set of numbers the folks who run football’s Premier League should be concerned about were published in the FT last month. They showed that Sky TV suffered its largest ever fall in viewing figures (down 14%) last season, despite the company paying almost £10m per match; BT’s already tiny football audience also fell, by 2%.

For a couple of seasons, there has been a steady flow of anecdotal evidence regarding the public’s growing disdain for a sport that treats them as consumers, but the FT’s figures offer a clear indication that our love affair with Premier League football might be coming to an end.

Once the recent proposed or confirmed transfer fees (£265 million) for a handful of decent, but by no means exceptional footballers (Kyle Walker, Naby Keita, Virgil van Dijk or Romelu Lukaku) are taken into account, it’s easier to understand why the game appears increasingly remote to its core supporters. Premier League officials should be very concerned as the sums of money television companies are prepared to pay to screen the ‘world’s most exciting league’ have almost certainly plateaued.

None of this concerns those hardy types who turn out to play Sunday league football across the land every week. They’re often a little the worse for wear, perform on muddy, bobbly or sloping pitches and invariably scramble with team-mates for the best pair of shorts or a dry shirt once the kit is plonked on the dressing room floor before a game.

If this description strikes a chord, resonates as real football, and you’re increasingly disillusioned with Premier League superstars and their agents’ constant willingness to undermine the already generous contracts awarded to their clients, then Ewan Flynn’s We Are Sunday League, “a bittersweet, real-life story from football’s grass roots” is a must.

Flynn captains Wizards FC in a north London Sunday league where they lock horns with sides such as Southgate Rovers and the ridiculously-named Outsidaz FC; where one referee, urged to not book a player because it was his birthday, flourished yellow anyway, telling him it was a birthday card.

It’s a world where players confirm their availability for Sunday’s forthcoming game with a one-word text message (“In”); where proposed victory drinks at the Salisbury Arms involve some pre-celebration diplomacy, ie persuading wives and girlfriends to come along, and where the ‘professional foul’ is re-interpreted to take account of the fact that a player clean through on goal who is subsequently clattered probably wouldn’t have scored anyway.

“No schoolboy was ever captivated by net spends and transfer windows,” says the book’s cover; it seems that fewer and fewer of us old ‘uns are either, which is why We Are Sunday League is such a breath of fresh footballing air.





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