I'm a 24 year old New Media Studies graduate from IADT. I have a passion for sport and I've specifically focussed on the economics of sports media and its subsequent effects on how society consumes and influences such texts. Throughout my final year, many of my assignments explored this arena, such projects included; fan TV vs traditional TV, audience fragmentation, and my final year project discussed the changing political economy due to gloabalisation between the English Premier League and its fans. I have found that both online and traditional media are becoming increasingly intertwined and that it's inevitable that they will become symbiotic across all media genres.
The project itself was constructed to serve as an overview of the topic discussed here. Restraining itself from specific in-depth detail (discussed in my accompanying essay) in favour of the screencasts flow and entertainment value. The ideation behind the project was inspired by the YouTube channel Tifo Football, due to clear concise methods of illustrating their message through animation. The goal was to provide an overview of this essay in a succinct style. The process of forming the video was complicated, especially when learning basic animation to describe Bourdieu’s cultural capital theory, however, it was necessary for maintaining the tone of the video, which aimed to be educational whilst digestible.
The English Premier League generates the largest viewership of any league. It boasts of a diverse global audience which has ultimately led to its respective clubs becoming richer due to increased sales of merchandise and increased demand to watch games. This has led to an exponential growth in the league's television rights deal as more broadcasters compete with one another. This influx of capital and the global avenues it has subsequently opened up, has made the league more attractive for foreign investors hoping to capitalise on these elements. However, the growth of the league due to the aforementioned characteristics has created a shift in clubs’ priorities, with many arguably focussing more on their brand than their performance on the pitch. There is little doubt that English football clubs, particularly the ‘Big Six,’ have become multi-national companies in recent years, much to the traditional match-day-going fan's disapproval, but how has capitalism infiltrated a sport once founded on socialism?
Whilst this project progressed there were very relevant discussions regarding the formation of a European Super League. However, in October of 2020 'Project Big Picture’ was unveiled which looked at the possibility of an amalgamation of both elite clubs’ capitalistic ideas whilst attempting to maintain the tradition that would still appease the traditional match-day-going/local fan. This ultimately never really progressed as rumours continued about elite clubs breaking away as they did in 1992. This idea of history possibly repeating itself was where the intrigue was first established in the ideation process of this project. The project initially centred around solely the globalisation and commercialisation of the English Premier League as an industry via the media, although with further analysis it became clear that the subsequent change in the political economy of fans due to the League’s economic success was of significant interest. This opened up avenues such as Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of cultural capital, the application of a Marxist view on the consumption of the Premier League, and fortunately due to recent proceedings a concrete example of both global capitalist and local socialist ideologies of English football colliding.
My thesis proved intriguing in its formation as it required further reading into fields of sociology, media industry, economics and ultimately led to the realisation that the Premier League is much more than just a football league. Its impact around the world through the aforementioned elements was interesting and somewhat disturbing in the sense that the average fan arguably has no inclination of the extreme capitalist ideologies that drive the sport that is ironically known as ‘The People’s Game.’ Although, without the capital gained through such ideologies it may never reach such a global audience, which would result in a more ‘socialist’ traditional game in England ultimately the game itself would be of much lower quality in skill, understanding, and production. This dilemma of whether capitalism was ‘good’ for English football is highly debated, however with the recent threats of an exclusively elitist league, it begs the question has English football completely lost its way? Or will this now be a catalyst for change in rejecting an updated consumeristic approach to fans?