Effra is finding it a bit hard to get up in the morning… for West Ham.
Supporting West Ham is most of the time justification for low-level depression. Even when things are going quite well, disaster always appears to be waiting to pounce at the first opportunity. We get a keeper playing out of his skin and, with the transfer window looming, the England manager prefers a goalie who has been playing with the slipperiest gloves in the Premiership. Nothing, however, has made me as depressed of late as Magnussonâ€™s comments last week that some Premier League games should be played outside England.
So if West Ham canâ€™t financially compete with the big four, not being in the Championsâ€™ League and having a stadium not much more than half the size of the Emirates, letâ€™s then, Magnusson seems to think, exploit commercial opportunities abroad – preferably before any of our rivals. Since he thinks that the average salary of West Ham fans is 60K a year maybe he imagines that we all fancy a long weekend partying in New York with a bit of football thrown in for more entertainment. Or more likely, he doesnâ€™t give a toss about whether any of the existing clientele at Upton Park attend the game at all and weâ€™ll all be just another 30,000 viewers to add to his television contract sales pitch.
Those who bow and scrape at every word of the new money men will tell those of us who protest that weâ€™re soft-headed romantics who donâ€™t understand that a global media market is the new economic reality, that money has always driven football, and that the world has never stopped for nostalgic dreamers. Well time does change everything, and football is no exception. But sometimes things change so much that they stop existing in any form recognisable to those who once attached meaning to them. Just because some football club bearing the name West Ham is playing in twenty yearsâ€™ time doesnâ€™t mean that I will have any reason to care about their fate every time the fixture list decrees they play on a different day of the week in a different time zone.
The fans who turn up week in and week out for years of their lives are the last claim of place, loyalty and memory in English football. Of course that can die and be replaced by something else, but those of us whom the new money men would deem dispensable donâ€™t have to hand over our souls too at the point of death. The stupid inevitability of it all as the Premiership grinds commercially onwards doesnâ€™t mean that we donâ€™t have a choice about how we live with the new football.