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The Simon Cowell Theory

Submitted by on January 18, 2013 – 11:39 amNo Comment


By Rob Allen

Imagine that somewhere in a Los Angeles mansion, in a room decked out in white, Italian marble, lit by an antique crystal chandelier, there is an almost bare shelf.

Nearby, behind a large remote controlled sliding door, is the finest sound system that money can buy. If you cranked it up to full volume it would sound like a jumbo jet attempting an emergency landing into the swimming pool outside. Only it never gets turned up beyond the third notch, usually hovering just past two, because the owner ‘doesn’t need the din’.

On that nearby shelf sit two compact discs, the only albums to have ever been played on that industrial strength sound system: Boney M’s Greatest Hits and James Blunt’s criminal debut album Back to Bedlam. Two albums that cater for their owner’s only two personal requirements for music: dancing and romancing.

This meagre collection goes unplayed, as the real soundtrack to this millionaire lifestyle is an accidental symphony. It consists of a bleeping Blackberry, the occasional sound of expensive tyres on a gravel driveway and the inaudible, but deafening hum of a rampant ego. There aren’t many people who come round for dancing, and there’s so little time for romancing, so those two mediocre CDs just sit and gather dust.

Not everyone likes music, so the scenario of the two-disc collection is forgivable. But, if the subject of this theory is flat-topped impressario Simon Cowell, you’d be right to start questioning his credentials as the reigning godfather of British music.


And here we find the point: how can there be so little evidence of a real and broad interest in music from the man who dictates the tastes and buying habits of a nation? There can be no confidence that he knows his Springsteen from his Sinatra, so how do we allow him to dye the cultural fabric of Britain his chosen shade?

The two-CD theory could be wrong, it probably is, but what we do know is that he’s not a punk man and probably considers The Hoosiers an intense group of new wave agitators. We also know he says stupid things like: “If you have publicity, you’re interesting” which goes some way to confirming his world view. Without evidence to suggest he actually has any regard for the art of music, his dominance of the country’s aural output appears akin to a bus driver masquerading as a brain surgeon. Still, the nation throws itself on the slab and hands him a scalpel.

Predictably enough, the only possible outcome of a man with no taste in music heading up the music industry is that the world starts turning beige. Beige performers, singing beige songs to beige audiences or on beige radio stations. So, here’s the inevitable question (which we arrive at via a lengthy detour): what happens when we take ‘the Cowell theory’ and put people in charge of football who have no interest in the traditions of football?

The answer is simple: you’ll end up with Leona Lewis instead of The Ramones.

If the hare-brained ‘Cowell theory’ is applied to our game then what football-related assumptions can we discuss as possible truths?

There’s the near certainty that Sepp Blatter, the champagne-quaffing President of FIFA, has never played five-a-side. The man who is stood at the crest of the international game, assessing and deciding on the rules we adhere to on and off the pitch – he has never had a goal disallowed because the through ball was deemed over head height by a chain-smoking referee.


He’s never had to play ‘skins’ because the other lot has turned up in striped shirts the same colour as yours. He’s never known the pleasure of leaving work in your kit having got changed in the toilets, scoring a left foot match winner into the far corner of the net and feeling the disappointment of your average day melt away in the awesome glory.

The theory could be wrong, but we’ll suspect it’s true until he confirms otherwise – and until he puts his foot through a ball covered in green felt, or flukes a Cruyff turn on a suburban Astroturf pitch, he’ll always be missing something.

It’s a near as dammit ‘fact’ that the infamous football agent Kia Joorabchian has no idea what a turnstile is, never mind been through one. Should you take a table next to him at the Dorchester and whisper the very word ‘turnstile’ into his ear, there will be no recognition because, much like the unconvertible German word ‘Schadenfreude’, there is no translation for ‘turnstile’ into his language.

He would look at you blankly and call for you to be ejected (we were leaving anyway). However, a man who can affect the economics of football so terribly and toy with the structure of great, and not so great, football teams depending on the requirement to achieve acceptable shareholder returns remains at the heart of the sport.

If there’s one man you want to send through a turnstile, only for it to jam and make that unforgiving iron crack against his knee, he’s definitely it. But he wouldn’t be in that queue because you need a reason to be there in the first place and that sense of purpose is beyond the likes of Joorabchian because his heart is in the wrong place, but he doesn’t know it.

We know that Manchester United’s Chief Executive, David Gill has probably never eaten pie, peas and gravy out of a polystyrene tray, yet strives to make football’s ‘pleasures’ marketable. It’s surely the case that Alex Horne, General Secretary of the Football Association, hasn’t negotiated with a ticket tout for that ‘must see’ fixture because he’s an accountant first and foremost and couldn’t reconcile the loss against his anticipated expenditure. The theorising could go on, but there’d be nothing to do on long car journeys if we exhausted the possibilities.

It would seem strange to hand a bus driver a scalpel and expect him to apply the methods of neurosurgery, so it must be questioned as to why anyone without knowledge or recorded interest in the experiences of watching, playing and sharing football would be trusted to control any aspect of the game.

When you hand the scalpel to the likes of Abramovich at Chelsea, Glazer at United and Mansour at little city, you know the chances of a successful operation and a full recovery are going to be minimal. It’s just a shame that so many still choose to jump onto the bed and believe that they’re doctors.

The conclusion is this. People like Simon Cowell are unfamiliar with the Buzzcocks and have no idea who Norman Whiteside is. If these criteria apply to the man standing next to you, you’re probably drinking in the wrong pub, at a bad gig or are in the wrong football ground.

Our game of football is more than skill, more than ninety minutes, more than entertainment and more than business. Our record collections are better than Cowell’s because we need music more often than just for dancing or romancing. Is it publicity that makes someone or something interesting, or is it the performance? If you don’t mind, we’ll be the judge of that.

- This article featured in issue six of A Fine Lung. Click http://www.afinelung.com/?page_id=3765 to find out how to get a copy. Please don’t nick this article without permission.

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