Book on rise of English football and its riches wins award

LONDON (Reuters) - Sports writer David Goldblatt's examination of the traditions and huge amounts of money associated with English football in 'The Game of Our Lives' won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award on Thursday (Nov 26).

The book by Goldblatt, who was won awards for previous work, "is an incisive analysis of how and why football's role in British society has changed so dramatically in recent decades", the prize committee said.

The 50-year-old said he wanted to show how a game that traditionally was associated with working-class Britain had been transformed into the richest sports franchise in the country, with clubs now owned by wealthy American businessmen or Russian oligarchs and players paid hundreds of millions of pounds.

Goldblatt added that people go to matches because it is part of the nation's "collective identity" but the game is at risk of being stifled by what he called the "sports-industrial complex" of rich owners and commercial sponsors, and by the inflated prices for tickets.

In the early 1980s the average age of fans attending top-flight English football matches was under 25 while now it is 48 "and going north", he told Reuters.

"The issue is not the money, if you want a circus someone's got to pay for it," Goldblatt said. "But there are limits...and they're going to kill the goose that laid the golden egg." Goldblatt's winning book was chosen from a shortlist of six by a panel of six judges.