Duleep Allirajah explains why he’s a “90-minute Quisling”:
Years ago, long before Google came to the salvation of lazy football writers who couldn’t be bothered with microfiche searches, the term ‘unsupport’ was coined in the football magazine, When Saturday Comes.
It meant, as the name suggests, the exact opposite of supporting a team. You wished defeat on another team, hated that team with a passion. So, for example, in the last day of the Premiership season, many neutrals wanted Manchester City to win the title. This was not through any great love for the oil-rich upstarts in blue, but because they were unsupporting Manchester United. In the Premiership era, Manchester United are simultaneously the best supported and, at the same time, the most unsupported club in the land. Unsupporting is the football equivalent of Newton’s third law of motion: all the time United are successful, hatred of the side occurs as an equal and opposite reaction.
You can tell a lot about people by the team they hate. Take Manchester United unsupporters. They assume two forms. In the blue half of Manchester or on Merseyside, the Anyone But United (ABU) sentiment is an expression of bitter local rivalry. But throughout the rest of the country, ABU represents an increasing disenchantment with modern football. Manchester United is essentially a proxy for the gentrification and commercialisation of the game. When fans sing ‘Stand up if you hate Man U’, it’s not simply green-eyed envy of United’s success, it’s also a howl of protest against the corporate takeover of football. United embodies everything the traditionalists hate about the Premier League: the hype, the desecration of 3pm kick-offs, the relentless merchandising, the prawn-sandwich munching ‘plastic fans’, and the absentee foreign owners
The constant appearance of Manchester United and Chelsea at or near the top of the English Premier League have always seemed to me to be a good argument in favour of a salary cap in the NFL style: otherwise richer clubs will always be able to buy their way to a higher season finish than poorer teams.
On the other hand, the NFL could learn from the EPL with their promotion/relegation system (I say that in full knowledge that my beloved Vikings would have been relegated after the 2011 season if such a scheme was implemented). Of course, structurally the NFL and EPL have many differences preventing the adoption of the other sport’s practices, but as (I think) Gregg Easterbrook pointed out, Ohio State … sorry, The Ohio State University’s football team could have beaten both of Ohio’s professional teams for much of the last decade.