The English Premier League began life as an ambitious football competition. Twenty-five years on and it is one of the most lucrative brands in sport. The league has gone far beyond the dodgy haircuts, muddy pitches and baggy shirts of the 90s. It is now an empire, providing everything a football fanatic could want, both on and off the pitch.
As the league progressed, so did technology and fans were soon able to view the newer and faster brand of tight-shirted football with the help of better visuals, sound and live studio discussions, complete with the latest animated graphs and graphics. The footballers also changed, becoming lither, fitter, tattooed and more spoilt, eventually spending most of their time broadcasting trite opinions on Twitter rather than playing football.
The Premier League has also encouraged an influx of international players and managers in a movement of people that, today, can only be measured on the refugee scale. This new and varied cast has since advanced what was originally a humble football league and transformed it into the world’s largest human sports drama. We have witnessed heroes and villains fight to the death, gladiators battle with nothing more than studs and elbows and have watched in awe as boys became men, men became gods and then moved to the MLS or China.
With such drama on offer, the league is now in a position where sports pages, websites and social media may no longer be powerful enough to capture its epic human narrative in all its visceral glory. So, what will the next stage be in realising the raw dramatic potential of the Premier League? Today we have the answer. Last month, it was announced that the famed London Economic Society for Music-Infused Sport (LesMis) has begun the process of turning the English Premier League into a West End Musical.
Creative Media Liason for LesMis, Val Johns, described such a production as ‘a long time coming.’ She explains, ‘the constant ups and downs of the Premier League present wonderful stories that depict the very drama of the modern age. This can only be fully realised in the format of a spectacular stage musical.’ Although Johns could not be tempted into sharing many insights into the ideas currently on the creative table, she did hint at an epic story that would involve a perilous journey at the end of which a shiny, ribbon-clad cup would be the prize.
This teaser raises several creative and practical questions. With its rich history of characters and stories, which Premier League tales will be presented or, indeed, omitted from the musical spectacular? Will Alex Ferguson appear as a Hamlet’s father-esque apparition in the wings, silently watching? Will the hero be English? Will there be any women in the cast, or merely on the sidelines? How will relegation be depicted- as an interpretive dance and dream sequence? Will the content be updated every season to represent more accurately the teams in the league and how will the song about mid-table languishing go? For now, we will just have to wait and see. Tickets go on sale in January 2018.