After Sergio Aguero’s impossibly late strike resulted in the Premier League’s most exciting finish in its 20-year history in May, England should have been eagerly anticipating the new football season like never before.
Instead, there has been an unusually low-key build-up to the new Premier League campaign. London’s hosting of the Olympic Games was an unparalleled success — after seven years of grumbling and reservations about the finances, never before has the country been so gripped by sport. The clamour to attend events meant thousands were disappointed, while unticketed events, such as the marathon and road cycling events, were attended by millions. Ninety percent of Britons watched some part of the Olympics on television, helped by the BBC providing 24 channels of exclusive Olympic action. It was, unquestionably, the biggest sporting event in Britain’s history.
Yesterday, London was noticeably quieter. The party was very obviously over.
This should be football’s cue to take centre stage — and, give it a couple of weeks, it will. But Sunday’s Community Shield game felt like a complete non-event, an irrelevance played in front of a few thousand empty seats at Villa Park. Unlike at the Olympics, these weren’t corporate seats that hadn’t been filled; they simply remained unsold. England’s friendly on Wednesday night against Italy also feels like an triviality, partly because it is being held in Switzerland. Out of sight, out of mind.