Posted on Goonersphere
Two weeks prior to the start of the 2035/36 season
The sterile beiges and greys were at odds with the woman currently hurtling through the offices. Heads veered from the screens they had been staring at for hours as she miraculously evaded phone lines, moving chairs, absent-minded office drones and double doors that swung open with nary a notice for people on the other side. Her evading capabilities were even more amazing considering she was wearing heels that would have given the average woman vertigo and a pencil skirt that left little in the way of unrestricted movement.
As she slalomed through the soulless purgatory, her rapidity the complete opposite of all who could free themselves from the hypnotic glare of their computer monitors, she grasped in one hand a single sheet of paper. It was the catalyst for her speed. Room after room she bustled through, leaving slack-jawed expressions in her wake.
Through another door, but on the other side was yet another office dweller who carried a futile coffee and a head full of clouds. She nearly went straight through him and the collision sent paper, coffee and limbs in every direction. Amidst the tangle of office material and legs, a sharp suited man helped both to their feet. Once seeing who the sharp suited man was, she handed the paper treasure she so frantically had tried to deliver to him. He flattened out the sheet and his eyes widened.
Without a word exchanged between them both, he hurriedly went straight to the lift, punched in the highest level and when the silent doors opened, he entered the only room in the whole establishment with gilded gold handles. Without a knock, he pushed them open.
A long unremarkable table was the dominant piece in what was a continuation of the buildings theme – abject functionality. Sitting at the head of the table was the man people went to when a problem arose. He got things done, but that was a prerequisite. He was the F.A Chairman after all.
The clearly flustered sharp suited man who had encroached noisily upon the Chairman’s sanctum, thrust the paper out to his boss. No words left each of their mouths, the sharp suited man silent as he waited for the Chairman to digest what was clearly distressing news.
The Chairman looked up from the paper.
” Call the Board. ”
With that, the Chairman sat down and steepled his fingers before swivelling his chair so his back was facing the flustered assistant. This was the end of the conversation.
The flustered man hesitantly edged his way from the room and called the men required to hold a meeting that would decide the tangent from which the F.A would approach.
Back in the Chairman’s room, the man with which everything hinged on was deep in thought. What was being asked was tantamount to theft. The public, the fans – they wouldn’t be happy. How could he paper over what was about to become real? The furore over the last changes nearly cost him his reputation. He scratched his thinning thatch. This could get messy.
Nineteen minutes later, the assorted figureheads that comprised ‘ The Board’ were all present and correct. Punctual they may be, but aware of what was coming next? Their quizzical looks was all the answer that was needed.
The Chairman stood up and the waffle which provides the soundtrack to all meetings all across the world ended sharply.
” You are all here as we have received some unfortunate news. We have dealt recently with such setbacks but if not handled carefully, then the backlash could cost us all dearly. ”
Questioning gazes quickly transformed to panicked expressions.
” Sky and BT have sent us new demands. ”
Murmurs that sounded very much like fear without any words being discernible emanated from the group sat at the long table.
” Settle down, please. When have I ever did wrong by any of you? Haven’t you all benefitted from my experienced hand on the tiller of this ship? We will find a way to incorporate what needs to be incorporated, WITHOUT any negative outcomes. Firstly, let us all here what the demands are. ”
A placated board now waited for the Chairman to reel off what was now expected in exchange for the untold riches that these broadcasting giants lavished on the F.A.
The Chairman fished out his small reading glasses from the inside pocket of his bland but expensive jacket and cleared his throat. A small sigh unheard by the rest of the room was the opener to what followed.
” Firstly, the slow but sure introduction of Friday fixtures has been a success. With 50% of fixtures now played on this day, Sky have issued commands to roll out Stage Two. ”
Gasps echoed around the Boardroom.
A small look up above his glasses was all the pause that the Chairman gave. He swiftly continued.
” This will mean Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday matches will start from this season. Kick off times will vary, but due to work patterns for the public mainly from Monday to Friday, this will surely increase viewing figures as fans will be unable to attend. Clubs worried about falling attendances have been assured that any shortcomings will be footed by Sky and BT. ”
He went on.
” Next up is team shirts. Sky and BT have went to the considerable measure of designing new kits for all teams, which will feature the logos of the respective TV companies emblazoned across each shirt. Team colours are also subject to change dependent on which sponsor is focused on. Sky and BT understand that fans may me displeased with such action but they fully expect us – the F.A – to help the fans get on board with this exciting change. ”
Faces around the table looked around at other faces, searching for answers, approval, anything. The Chairman continued devoid of emotion.
” Lastly, Sky and BT are actively looking at expanding their reach. With this, an exciting development will be implemented from the start of this upcoming season. During the half time interval of every game, instead of feedback from pundits and viewing incidents from the game, we will show previews of the latest movies from our film channels and advertisements for our latest products. Sky and BT think this could be a revolution in terms of sales and a captive audience in the stadium, coupled with millions at home, mean the results could be stratospheric. With match tickets at an all time high and Sky Sports/BT Sports subscriptions making up 98% of every fanbase, we feel that this next step brings us ever closer to bringing football to the zenith of entertainment. ”
He took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. Another sigh, this time audible enough for everyone to hear, started another sentence.
” These changes may be difficult to incorporate, but twenty years ago, it would have been unfathomable for Friday fixtures to be a part of the footballing calendar. Fans were revolting due to that particular tide of events, but their displeasure soon quells as they only have eyes for their club. I know you may worry about your jobs due to a backlash, but ultimately, the ridiculous money pumped into the game thanks to Sky and BT mean that we all benefit and it is in our best interests to do what we can so that a seamless transition occurs. It is business as usual. Sky and BT have agreed to pay a princely sum for the coverage they show, a sum which would put most countries deficits in the shade. Money talks ladies and gentlemen, so let us face the music with the press and let them know of these ‘fantastic’ developments. ”
They all stood up, resigned to their fate. Not one of them decided to take a stand and remonstrate at what would surely be the death of football. As they all filed out, the Chairman spoke one final sentence to them.
” Remember who pays your wages, so put a good spin on this people. ”
The room emptied. It was just the Chairman, slouching in the high-backed chair. He pressed the button to speak to his secretary.
” Hello Nancy. Yes, I’ll have a whisky. Make it double. Oh, yes, call my wife to let her know I won’t be home for dinner. It’s going to be a long day. Thank you Nancy. ”
With that, his phone started to buzz. He tapped his fingers together and a hologram appeared in his vision. It was the head of Sky TV calling.
It would indeed appear that this day would be testing……..