Music, Politics, Sport

A Week in Review: 12th-18th October

Premier League rejects ‘Project Big Picture,’ but promises to look at the big picture

So, Project Big Picture comes to nothing. The radical new plan to restructure the English football pyramid was soundly rejected by all 20 Premier League clubs last week. That surely means that even the clubs who devised the ideas in the proposal must have voted against it as well. And that is rather amusing to me. The whole proposal seemed to me to have been cooked up to try and gain more influence and control for the big six teams. Instead of working with the organisation to try and come up with a proposal that would get support from the whole of the league. This idea cooked up by two clubs on their own just smacked of a land grab of control for the top six clubs. Now, they would argue that they deserve to have more of a say in how the league is run than the other club as they bring in much of the revenue for the league; because of that, they should have a stronger hand in how things are run, how the league is structured, what the TV deals are and who gets the majority of the money from said TV deals.

To me, that is a nonsense. I do not doubt that the structure of the football pyramid is certainly a discussion that needs to be had. Particularly in light of the world situation with the coronavirus pandemic. Many professional clubs, no matter how high up the pyramid they get, still rely on matchdays as their major stream of revenue. Fans paying to come to the ground to watch games live, spending money in and around the stadium on food and drink and possibly in the club shop as well. All that is being denied to clubs at the moment. The pinch is obviously being felt by the clubs lower down the order and we have seen a lot clubs encounter severe financial difficulties, and even fold. That, to me is not acceptable. The whole structure must be sustainable to help all the professional clubs survive the current situation. The wealth of the Premier League has got to make its way down the pyramid to keep the structure together. But that decision has to be reached by the organisation and the clubs in partnership with each other or the whole thing could be fatally damaged. When the outcome of last week’s meeting was announced, the league and clubs committed themselves to exploring the options as to how to make the changes needed to keep the English football pyramid alive, sustainable and able to thrive. Change does need to be made. But not by individual clubs. The decision needs to be reached by everyone together.

Rest in Peace, Eddie Van Halen

The music world lost a titan last week, as Eddie Van Halen died aged 65 after a long battle with cancer. He was first diagnosed with tongue cancer in 2001 and suffered on and off for the rest of his life. I never really listened too heavily to Van Halen’s music. My tastes were pretty set by the time I got round to it and Van Halen was someone I would respect like Joe Satrini or Steve Vai, but not listen to for enjoyment; However, I could immediately hear the talent in the band, and particularly at Eddie’s fingertips. With their debut album in 1978, Van Halen rewrote the rulebook and made the template for a style of rock music that would dominate for the best part of a decade. Only Guns ‘n’ Roses and then the grunge bands brought an end to the Van Halen copycats. Eddie’s guitar style was flamboyant, explosive, completely unique to him and yet still contained within the structure of a song. Yes, he had the solo spots on the albums and in the show, but they were all part of what made Van Halen what they were.

Eddie was probably the most influential guitar player since Jimi Hendrix. He changed the landscape and popularised new techniques, or invented them himself. He was one of those guitarists who seemed to never run out of ideas. He always had riffs almost falling out of him. He also wasn’t a half bad keyboard player either, just listen to ‘Jump.’ Unfortunately, like so many who become musicians, Eddie did struggle throughout his career with a drinking addiction and he also smoked pretty heavily as well. But though he is now gone from this mortal plane, as with artists, we have his music to remember an innovator and consummate musician by. Rest in Peace Eddie, your work here is done.

Boris Johnson’s week wasn’t that great really, was it?

A new system of tiered local lockdown was announced early last week. If you live in an area with a high amount of coronavirus cases, then your restrictions are closer to those we saw under the national lockdown in March. And yet not a day had passed before the minutes of a SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) meeting revealed that the number 1 recommendation was an immediate two week ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown and complete reworking of the track and trace system to make sure it actually works properly. And the government had ignored all those recommendations. Suddenly they went with a system that brought local leaders more into the decision-making process. A poll released last week showed over 60% approved of the idea of a ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown, but instead we have the tier system. I don’t necessarily disagree with that approach, but it seems to me that the country needs to bring the R number down before winter truly sets in so that we have the best chance of the NHS not being overwhelmed during a period of the year when colds and severe illness goes up anyway. The tier system might work better in a period where the R number is on the way down.

And once again Johnson threatened an end to the transition period with no trade deal in sight. The continual u-turning continues, except now it has a new title. Probably trying to shrug off the negative connotations that have built up over time about ‘no-deal’, Johnson warned businesses to prepare for an ‘Australia solution.’ Australia, by the way, doesn’t have a trade deal with the EU. The ruse was shown for the sham it was when Alok Sharma was questioned about the wording of the Prime Minister’s statement on Nick Ferrari’s LBC radio show. When asked directly by Ferrari what the difference between no deal and an ‘Australia solution,’ Sharma answered ‘It’s a question of semantics really.’  Funnily enough, I think the same thing could be said about much of this government’s strategy. Exactly the same as before with a new name to try and fool into thinking its something brand new.

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