Wednesday, 13 May 2009


Burnley's magnificent win at Reading last was a stunning victory for football. Football the game, that is, as opposed to football the global money generator.
A team which was minutes away from relegation from the entire League in 1987 is now one match away from the Premier League.
It couldn't happen to a better place. Burnley is a genuine football town. Every time a game is staged at Turf Moor, you get the feeling that the whole community is involved. There is a knowledge, a passion and a sense of tradition that you don't often find elsewhere.
They have played thrilling football this season and deserve to have their chance at Wembley.
But it's the bigger picture that matters most. If some people have their way, the Premier League will become a sealed capsule one day, protecting everyone within, excluding everyone on the outside. No promotion or relegation. No more point in wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin' as Dusty Springfield put it. No chance for the Burnleys to travel from the bottom to the top and invigorate an entire town in the process.
A few months ago the Bolton chairman Phil Gartside floated the idea that relegation from the Premier League should cease. This has to be resisted. If the Premier League can't make a success of things with all their incredible advantages, this kind of protectionism is not the answer.
Football is too important for that.

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