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Book Review - Glory, Goals & Greed: Twenty years of the Premier League

With the new season drawing near, and the euphoria of this summer’s European Championships now a distant memory, the Premier League once again takes centre stage.

As it enters its 21st season, here’s a book assessing the first 20 years of the Premier League.

Veteran writer Joe Lovejoy has been a football correspondent for over 40 years, observing the game in the days before mega rich players and billionaire owners.

Two decades on, he takes an illuminating look at how the Premier League has transformed the landscape of British football.

Combining valuable insight from a bevy of famous ex-players, Lovejoy catalogues the rise of the Premier League from 80’s dream thing to 21st century colossus.

Teddy Sheringham, Stan Collymore, Alan Shearer and Ryan Giggs all offer their own personal tales of fame and fortune in the Premier League: explaining career decisions, personal relationships and offering their own conclusions on how the game has evolved so rapidly since it began.

More than just an anthology

Much more than just an anthology of autobiographical excerpts, this book studies the stark contrast between now and the big kick off to the Premier League in August 1992 - when only 11 foreign players took to the field and the British transfer record stood at the meagre £3.6m Blackburn Rovers had paid Southampton for a young Alan Shearer.

It delves deeper into some of the central facets of the Premier League, including the role of television money (and how a landmark new agreement was reached with BSkyB), the impact that player representatives (or agents) have had on the rise in transfer fees and player wages, and the proliferation of foreign ownership of the country’s biggest football clubs.

For those of a certain age that have never witnessed football prior to the Premier League era (such as myself), Lovejoy is able to set the scene perfectly.

In early chapters of the book he charts the evolution of discussions between chairmen of leading clubs about the possibility of a breakaway league in the 1980’s. He explains the limited scope for exploitation of television money that existed during this time and the powerful position enjoyed by both the Football League and the FA.

He also does his best to clarify the confusing relationship between the Premier League, the Football League and the FA as it shifted during negotiations on the formation of a new league.

A smooth read

Sparing no small detail, Lovejoy’s style is smooth and easy to read whilst never feeling light on detail.

Indeed, he goes to great lengths to appease the nostalgic fans among us with chapters on the top 20 matches played so far, the PFA Player of the Year winners, analysis of all the managers who have won the coveted Premier League and even a tribute to the twenty biggest headlines in Premier League history.

Even for the occasional reader, this book is easily digestible in small chunks in time for the big kick off on August 18th. So dive in and get the juices flowing ahead of the new season.

As was evidenced by the sensational climax to last season, the Premier League is not short on excitement.

By Matt Youngs - Follow me on Twitter @whytryharder1


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