THE BLOG

Football - Crazy?

15/08/2013 15:50 BST | Updated 14/10/2013 10:12 BST

What's the League Cup called now? I lost track somewhere between the Coca-Cola and Milk Cup eras. As for the Europa, which would you prefer - top four in the league or a tricky second leg in Elfsborg? Come to think of it (Wigan), which would YOU prefer - FA Cup winners, or staying in the Premiership?

The logistical nightmare of Qatar 2022 is simply the logical conclusion of all that has gone before - and particularly since 1992-3, when the Premier League and Champions' League emerged like all-devouring monsters from the deep to consume everything in their path - and take bite-sized chunks out of one another in the process.

As a kid I was often taken to football matches, mainly Old Trafford, White Hart Lane and The Shay (don't ask). There's nothing I'd love more than to take my own children to a big match but despite the fact you can see The Emirates from our roof and Wembley is a short train journey away we've never been. The closest we've got was when my daughter was a ball-girl at an Arsenal Women's Champions' League match one wet and rainy day, putting her off for life.

Has football lost its soul? Sometimes - when some over-rated Shrek moans at having to exist on £250,000 a week, when clubs are taken over by characters more suited to an Interpol list, when players dive or when El-Hadji Diouf continues to exist, it's easy to conclude that's the case.

Yet when a player scores a goal and wheels away in delight; or misses and laughs about it with the keeper; or performs a piece of outrageous skill for no particular reason; or your shower beat the team from the next valley - you realise that it will take more than a few mercenaries, charlatans and Arsenal fans to destroy football.

I enjoy many sports, including cricket, rugby and tennis, but football isn't a "sport": it's just there, a part of life, from the trenches to Camus to Primo Levi to Leighton Baines. I believe with a few tweaks the game could be restored to the masses - and wrested away from Abramovich. Who, deep down, could argue with that?

Here, then, are my ten suggestions to make our game great again:

1. Rename the "Champions League" the European Cup and end seeding in this and all other knock-out competitions.

2. No shaking hands before the match - save that for after. Remember: this is war by other means.

3. Players who complain about being sworn at by fans and vice versa to be banned for life.

4. End the League Cup and Europa Cup - nobody cares.

5. Every FA Cup match (including the final) to take place midweek - no replays, winner to qualify for European Cup.

6. No internationals to be played during the season. Qualifiers to take place close-season; finals the following summer; friendlies to be binned for good.

7. Link the referee's watch to the scoreboard so everyone can see when ninety minutes are up.

8. The transfer window must be the exact length of the close season - no longer.

9. Think up some technology so you can watch matches on Sky with 5 Live's commentary in synch.

10. Finally, and most importantly - all football clubs to be put back in the hands of the fans. They own the club - they ARE the club.

Anyway, these are my suggestions - what are yours?