Football, as everyone knows, was invented in 1992 when satellite television’s desperate need for ‘killer content’ created a sporting Klondike that would attract a lengthy collection of unsavoury characters eager to grab their share of the game’s newfound wealth.
Of course, ever since spectators began paying to attend matches more than a century earlier, football has offered a safe harbour to chancers, shysters and matchfixers, but post-1992, as broadcasters managed to persuade millions of people to pay to watch the self-styled ‘most exciting league in the world’ on TV, clubs became legitimate targets for those seeking to turn a quick buck.
Money, much of it borrowed or acquired under questionable circumstances, has so completely permeated the beautiful game that it now determines how games are played, campaigns planned and managers’ performance gauged.
Surrendering a top-flight berth is deemed a financial disaster, but as Burnley have shown, it’s still possible to return to England’s elite division (they’ve done it three times) without touting prospective new owners, invariably foreign ‘billionaires’ with a history of money laundering.
From Orient To The Emirates tells the tale of Burnley’s inspirational, never-say-die recovery from the cusp of oblivion (a final match of the 1986-87 season against Orient) to once more competing against the top flight’s big guns.
To call the intervening 30-year journey a ‘roller-coaster’ is an understatement, but to convey what it has meant to those associated with, or supporting the Clarets, author Tim Quelch mixes his story with an abundance of comments from fans, players, newspaper reports and other contemporaneous accounts.
It’s an uplifting formula tracing the period from Burnley’s unlikely survival to their renaissance and status as many folks’ favourite ‘other’ team.
The survive and prosper theme is most apt as Mr Quelch is donating all of the book’s royalties to Prostate Cancer UK.
Great story. Great cause. Treat yourself to a taste of real football life.
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