With all the ‘problems’ across the football world right now, the city of Liverpool provides a stark backdrop and a whole lot of perspective…
ANOTHER week of lies, deceit and greed which we’re now unquestionably addicted to.
Unfortunately, it isn’t The Traitors I’m referring to, rather our omnipresent infatuation with football on Merseyside which leaves you feeling morally itchy with every pink placard bearing a Premier League logo.
While it might be easier than ever to envisage Jordan Henderson revealing a masterful character charade when certain of his good character, we’re not quite at the point of direct comparisons. Although, there are some.
Why do we love a show which depicts such jarring social qualities as exploitative tactics to try and earn a cash prize? It can’t always be to nestle in the palm of Claudia Winkleman’s brilliance.
No, there’s something more innate about this perverse pleasure, it’s because we can create cognitive dissonance from it. We can remove ourselves with such ease that it easily and quickly absolves any form of voyeurism, worse, culpability.
That has been the nature of the entertainment beast for so long. Let us become interested through a pleasure lens. Let us never knowingly become the news.
Football is both different yet increasingly part of the conversation. We are invested, some a lot more than others, both literally and figuratively. The metaverse consumer can conceptualise players, clubs and competitions until they become tools of tribalism.
With that, for all of us, come conversations around currency which lose all sense of rationality. In the castle of chaos that is the current maelstrom of Premier League politics, we have been subjected to more PSR chum in the water which supporters are swimming to in droves.
Neil Atkinson covered this perfectly earlier in the week. Since then, two articles have emerged to maybe offer even more perspective.
The first was in The Liverpool Echo on Thursday, published by Liam Thorp. It outlined the findings of a report written by Liverpool’s public health director Matt Ashton, who Jürgen Klopp outlined as an informed and knowledgeable voice during the COVID vaccination debate.
The findings were not pretty. They looked at overall health trends in the city and the key takeaways showed that, heartbreakingly, Liverpool’s infant mortality rate is higher than the national average and each year, 26 babies do not reach their first birthday.
It also found that on current trends, the life expectancy of Liverpool women will go into reverse by 2040. As things stand, by that same date the number of people in Liverpool with major illness is expected to increase by between 33,000 and 38,000 by 2040.
The second article, which emerged from a report by homelessness charity Shelter, estimated 1,078 people were homeless in Liverpool on any given night in 2022 – including 465 children.
It is abominable and infuriating that quality of life should be in such decline in one of Europe’s major cities. That among us such deprivation and risk is thriving. It is among us at home, at work and at a football stadium.
There should rightly be mention in these conversations for organisations like Homebaked and Fans Supporting Foodbanks, who have garnered a community spirit because and in spite of football’s existence in a struggling community.
Liverpool, as the Echo article states, is a city “with enormous challenges ahead of it”. And yet we immerse ourselves in this rich man’s game, in the heart of Anfield and Walton, two areas central to such challenge.
We can tread the same streets and paths of hardship which lead us to our own contained Mecca, our simulation of escape. Once inside, we frivolously demand fewer financial sanctions, more spending and increased wealth to the minus one per cent. All of this to win, apparently.
Football was built for an escape of hardship. It was our every other Saturday. Further, some local businesses are only surviving by the matchday revenue Anfield or Goodison Park creates. That spreads wider to city centre hospitality.
Still, I can’t help but feel like this is all a bit ridiculous. That surely in a place of such struggle, such unpleasant wealth disparity should not exist, let alone be encouraged in such a vacuum.
Perhaps it is the arbitrary construct it increasingly presents. Maybe there is no guilt in sitting down at night and revelling in your favourite villain, whether that be sales manager Paul or David Coote.
However it works, the evidence of the wider picture is abundantly clear. It can’t be dressed up. Liverpool is struggling.
We might not be able to majorly change things, but we can certainly measure ourselves and our reactions.
Sometimes you can’t see a traitor because you’ve been so faithful.