By Freddie Bennett | Sport Editor
The image of football has changed somewhat in the last few weeks with the implementation of the new handball rule, as well as the introduction of pay per view games. With a large outcry over these changes from fans and pundits alike, one could ask: is football jeopardizing its own popularity?
At the beginning of this season, the Premier League tightened its regulations on what constitutes a handball. The rule now takes away the element of intent from a handball which means that the ball only needs to strike the player on the arm for a penalty to be given.
Unsurprisingly, this change has seen a large outcry from the football community as football is a fast-paced game and sometimes it is clear that a defender may not mean to have touched the ball with his or her hand. Therefore, removing the element of intent from this rule will really penalize something that often cannot be controlled.
Rather than tightening these rules one cannot help but think that the commonsense approach should prevail. In this sense, if it looks to be that a player has intentionally got in the way of the ball using an arm, then that should be classed as a handball. It will be interesting how long this rule change can last before it is weakened.
The other major change was the decision to air games for those matches not shown on any of the broadcasters as pay per view. On Friday, October 9, Premier League clubs voted 19-1 in favour of moving games that are not already shown live on BT Sport or Sky Sports to the Box Office services of those channels for £14.95 per game. Understandably, this vote has seen quite the backlash.
To many this is a strange move by the Premier League as these are times when thousands of people are losing their jobs and struggling more generally and in a financial sense. Yet, the top tier of English Football looks to be exploiting this for the purposes of making money and taking advantage of these fans.
This shift to pay per view also looks to increase the gap between the team and the supporter. If it were clear that the money was well utilized at grassroots level and such then there might be more of an understanding from the fans. However, the worry is that all this money will fall back into the hands of the big teams and their owners, and will not be put back into the game at a lower level.
If this were to happen then it could cause profound damage to the image of football on a long term basis. This move would treat the supporters as a commodity that can be exploited and monetized to no end, as opposed to serving the fans and improving the product for them.
The Premier League has an incredible product with billions of followers, yet if the game continues to serve the large teams and their owners as opposed to the supporter, then this reputation could be tainted.