Essays on Football in the North-East of England 1880-1930
Appendix: Restraining the Commodification of Football
(If Anyone Wants to)
If – despite everything said above – one is a football fan, or a club director, or a player, who is agonised about the commodification of football and its long-term effects, is there any model of football professionalism which might even moderate this seemingly ineluctable trend?
Four possible suggestions have occurred to me and to other people. These are:
(1) probably the most frequently canvassed – applying some version of the NBA’s ‘draft pick’ system to football.1 In this model, the names of the most talented young players from club academies are put into a hierarchically organised ‘pot’ for each league. Clubs in the league are then allocated priority in choosing from ‘the pot’ in inverse relation to their performance in the previous season. Club X, having finished just one place above relegation, is given the first chance to obtain outstandingly talented young player Y – the first-ranked player in the ‘pot’ – or, in basketball terminology, ‘the first draft pick’. If, for some reason, Club X does not want player Y, it is then offered first choice of player Z, the ‘second draft pick’, etc. Conversely, the clubs performing best in the previous league season have the lowest priority in drafting players. This often means that they do not get a ‘pick’ at all, or, if they do, do not want any of the players still available. (Both things happen in the NBA).
This model would clearly do something to widen competition...
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