“But I'm long enough in the game to know that to manage a team that goes into the Semi-Final of the FA Cup and Semi-Final of the Champions League, with a team of that age, and to still have a chance to go back into 3rd position ... OK, we didn't win the championship but it could be worse in the future don't worry.”
- Arsene Wenger, telling us to be thankful of this thin, callow, mediocre, injury-prone, mentally-suspect, ill-disciplined, tactically-inept, defensively-weak, offensively-profligate squad.... because it could be worse next year.
I'm not going to go too deep into that quote because it's alarming and depressing at the same time. Instead, I'm going to go into the schedule of our match against 'boro.
If I remember correctly, the 'boro match is on tomorrow at 1:30pm, GMT. Which means it'll be shown at 10:30pm, AEST. Which means I'll be watching the Arsenal at a sensible hour and I'll be in bed at a sensible time. Which means I won't be waking up tomorrow morning with a pounding headache and a death wish. Which can only be a good thing.
Now, I realise the English Premier League doesn't revolve around me. And it's a bit much to ask them to schedule all their Arsenal fixtures at 1:30pm (or preferably 12:30pm) so that I can watch my team and have a good night's sleep. And I realise the EPL is run by a lot of Peter Hill-Wood types who schedule matches according to tradition, and not according to the wishes to global football fans. However, there is one little question I'd like to ask:
It would help with crowd control. The major difference between a 1:30pm game and a 3:00pm game is that the 3:00pm game enables fans to drink for two more hours. Which means that if a match was scheduled at 1:30pm, you'd have less intoxicated hooligans making arses of themselves on the streets. You'd have a more sober crowd who will buy more over-priced beer in the stadium. And you'd have fans released onto the streets at an earlier time in the day, which would help with crowd dispersal.
It would increase global TV ratings. A 1:30pm (GMT) match takes place at 9:30am in New York, 4:30 am in Los Angeles, 10:30pm in Eastern Australia, 9:30pm in Japan, 8:30pm in Hong Kong and Singapore, and 4:30pm in the Middle East. Apart from Los Angeles, these are all prime-time TV times in some of the richest, EPL-watching areas in the world. TV companies can make a killing with these times. However, push the kickoff time back to 3:00pm, and you get less hospitable hours, and less TV revenue. Richard Scudmore wants to bring football to the global fans, but you can go a long, long way if you just schedule matches during more sociable hours.
It would increase the standard of sports journalism. A match that starts at 3:00pm ends at 5:00pm. There's a press conference at probably 5:30pm. There's about 30 minutes for a write up on the match before the 6 o'clock news. Which means that the journalist has to summarise a match, make sense of a manager's ramblings, and stitch this into the grander narrative of a football team's season. It's difficult to come up with insightful, interesting pieces if you're such tight time constraints. I think the standard of journalism would be much higher if they're given that extra 1.5 hours that a 1:30m kickoff time would provide.
That's just my way of thinking, of course. Take it as you will. It's just that I like sleeping about as much as I like watching Arsenal play football, and it's nice to be able to do both.