Premier League: A History in 10 Matches by Jim White

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Premier League: A History in 10 Matches by Jim White

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Category: Sport
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Peter Magee
Reviewed by Peter Magee
Summary: A history of the Premier League brought to life in ten matches from 1993 to 2013. Highly readable and informative.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: September 2013
Publisher: Head of Zeus
ISBN: 978-1781854303

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I go back to the days when the pinnacle of footballing achievement was to be in Division 1, but the stadia and the stands were downmarket. Standing - pushing, shoving and fighting - was the norm and it wasn't the place for a family outing. You could get into a match for less than a fiver and top footballers earned less than four times the average wage. All that changed in 1993 with the birth of the Premier League. This was the brainchild of - amongst others - Greg Dyke who saw the potential for turning football at the highest level into a business. Twenty one years on the top footballers earn more than thirty five times the average wage.

Dyke pointed out before the inception of the Premier League there was a connection between football and business - business was where you made your money and football was where you lost it. The Premier League was created in 1992 and the first games involving the top clubs were played the following year.

By a happy coincidence the BSkyB television service was struggling - some say that losses of £1m a day were accruing. Rupert Murdoch believed that there was money to be made from movies but his executives saw the potential marketing opportunities from selling a subscription football service. At this point Dyke was sidelined and Alan Sugar advised Murdoch to blast the opposition out of the water and Sky's bid ensured that they won the live television rights thus turning the company's fortunes round.

White's book cleverly covers a series of ten matches, describing not only the games themselves but the events which shaped the league. The failed business models of Leeds United in the Peter Ridsdale era and Portsmouth under a succession of different - and some might say dodgy - owners are described in painful detail, particularly for those of us who supported Leeds. The story of Leeds has been well documented but White's book neatly presents the salient points leading to the eventual -and somewhat surprising - takeover of the club by the infamous Ken Bates.

The author makes no secret of his affinity to Manchester United but his description of the climax to the 2012 season where City pipped their old rivals to the Premiership title was writing of the highest quality, with his comments about the ‘philosopher' Joey Barton producing a wry smile.

All in all it's a superb book but it's no fault of the author that I was saddened by the growing disparity between the rewards ‘earned' by those players at the highest level and their agents, much of it paid for by excessive admission prices and premium Sky subscriptions paid by the genuine football supporter.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag.

We've always enjoyed Jim White's writing and you might like to take a look at his memoir about coaching his son's football team. For more on football we can recommend A History of Football in 100 Objects by Gavin Mortimer.

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Buy Premier League: A History in 10 Matches by Jim White at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Premier League: A History in 10 Matches by Jim White at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Premier League: A History in 10 Matches by Jim White at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Premier League: A History in 10 Matches by Jim White at Amazon.com.


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