Is Publishing Football?

Is Publishing Football?

As the post mortem gets under way into yesterday's [insert disparaging word here] defeat of England by Germany's only-average football team - a process that is likely to be at least as ugly as the game itself - let's pause for a moment to consider what life lessons we may learn from the whole sorry schbang.

In Britain, football is now only tangentially about the beautiful game.  It is mostly and mainly about money, power and celebrity.  Our best and brightest are more interested in merchandising deals than in tedious team practice.  In this, they are aided and abetted by a particularly venal variety of agent: the football agent - most of whom, according to Steve McClaren's agent Colin Gordon are corrupt.  Jeez, they make my own little corner of the media industry look positively housebroken by comparison.

Is David Beckham the best British footballer of all time?  Well, no - not if you can remember the likes of Geoff Hurst, Bobby Charlton or even George Best.  But that's not really the point.  Mr. and Mrs. B are world-class self-promoters.  They have refocused the footballing agenda, and determined the height of the bar.  "Spend it like Beckham" is the new football chant.

So what are the parallels between the two industries?  Discounting our mutual and treacherous love affair with celebrity, I'd say that we are in real danger of taking our eyes off the publishing ball at the moment.

Our obsession with technology is one of the prime culprits.  And it's surprisingly similar to football's own fixation with the culture of narcissism.  While you and I (yes, I'm a geek too) can natter on for hours about the relative merits of iPhone 4 (not for lefties!) most of our readers actually couldn't give a tinker's cuss about such things. 

Let's be honest about this - our customers mostly don't understand the technology.  If you doubt this, go out into the streets, and ask them - as I've done.

What they want is a great read. 

"Conventional" publishing may be as dull as team practice, but it pretty much knows how to produce a great read - in other words, content that punters will buy.  For good money, too - not just for the near-giveaway price that most electronic content currently sells for.

End of rant.  I now return to mourning.

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Photo by CharlesFred