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Book review - Theatre of Silence: The Lost Soul of Football

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By Tim Doel

Sunday 01 April 2012

Book: Theatre of Silence: The Lost Soul of Football
Author: Matthew Bazell
Rating: 8/10

Theatre of Silence, The Lost Soul of Football, by Matthew Bazell, is a hugely entertaining critique of modern day football, with a desire largely to return to what it deems as better, or at least more genuine, times. Covering a number of controversial subject areas from ticket pricing to television funding, terraced stands to FIFA, and much, much more.

In essence the book is intended to take a second look at a number of changes made in the past couple of decades, deciding whether these were successful, and suggesting new approaches in the future. In some circumstances, it will be voicing the frustration of football fans throughout the country - in others, it will be deemed an entertaining rant, with little actionable, or at least likely, end results.

This book can read as one aimed at venting 25 years of frustration at the management of football in the UK and beyond. Some points made will resonate strongly with the reader, yet others will enjoy the read, but disagree with much that is said.

This book in fact is the ideal ammunition to stock up on before indulging in some pub discussion. Various topics are brought forward, with the writer arguing their opinion, which will either make the reader exclaim “exactly” in sharing the same ideas, or find themselves talking out loud to themselves, claiming “no, it’s not like that”. Does Sky tv football coverage result in too much money getting into the game, making footballers disproportionately rich, or in making watching football actually more accessible to fans who then watch it on tv? Does the abolition of terraces in the Premier League mean the atmosphere is lost, or does it create a comfortable and safe family environment to watch a game? What this means is that with every subject encountered, the reader immediately makes their own decision on the matter, with their reasoning strengthened either way depending on the points made by the author - a rare example of an interactive book, which helps make the book difficult to put down. Going to your local with this under your arm will ensure there will be no shortage of talk material.

One interesting aspect of this book, and the issues it brings to light, may be that opinion on those could change depending on the age, and therefore generation of the reader. For those that grew up in the age of terracing, that is what is seen as the original, the norm, and will undoubtedly hold some romaticism due to emotions brought about when they were youngsters going to football. For younger readers who are less, or completely uninitiated with terracing, the idea that a club may choose to return to it may seem strange. A divide in opinion based on the generation, at least in Premier League fans (lower league youngsters may have the same emotions attached to terracing), could be something that effects many of the subjects brought about in the book. Others, such as the approach of FIFA in numerous aspects, extortionate match ticket pricing for disabled people, corporate preference for World Cup tickets, may well find unanimous.

Whatever the opinions on each individual subject discussed, this book fulfils it’s duty, in making the reader clarfiy their own view points on a huge variety of topics, and in doing so, enjoy what all footy fans do, talking football.

Theatre of Silence, The Lost Soul of Football, by Matthew Bazell, can be purchased at here

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