First off, this is one for football fans only. Ian Ridley is a good writer and he sets out, through 22 largely unconnected essays, to survey the impact that the Premier League has had on British football, both good and bad. Ridley is a skilled journalist and there is much to enjoy here, both in the stories he tells and the way he tells them. My one point of criticism is that the book is ultimately less than the sum of its parts. It needs a more cohesive glue to hold it together. I think the reason for this is that, with an eye firmly on his day job, Ridley is too keen not to put any big Premier League noses out of joint when a dose of polemicising would have made it more interesting
This is one of those books that you find hard to put down & also hard to understand how we managed to lose control of our game and our clubs. Although the chapters are about teams we may not support, we can empathise with their supporters and what they have been through over the years. Always interesting and with a real feeling for the game and what it means to support your club through 'thin & thin' Ian Ridley has managed to capture all that is good about the game (the fans) & maybe those things that we really do need to look at in more detail.... can't wait for the follow up book.... when there's 15 top flight clubs left in business !!
There have been many books looking back over the last twenty years in different ways, in terms of the change in tactics, the fan's experience, the finances, the cultural effects, hey sometimes even the football... Ian Ridley's book doesn't really have that kind of focus but instead puts out 20+ essays on different aspects, with some excellent interviews that illustrate how the game has changed at all levels over the Premier League period (and loosely makes the case that it all very much stems from the influence of the Premier League). It's a very enjoyable read with no little insight. My own high spots are the chapter on Aldershot's decline with an excellent interview with Spencer Trethewy, the experiences of Wembley FC, and the contrasting fortunes of a Premier League Blackpool and a declining Portsmouth. It ends with a very upbeat interview with Paul Gascoigne, which then reminds me that football continues to change even after the covers of this book are closed. Well worth buying.
This is a superb set of essays on different aspects of British football after 20 years of the Premier League. Ridley focuses on the PL's effect on clubs large and small, league and non-league, professional and amateur, the national team, as well as topics such as club ownership, television, and football finance. It's a well researched book written in a lively and engaging style. There's much to ponder here for football fans on where the real value of the game lies.