Monday, January 12, 2009

Voetbal: Winterstop

I've introduced a new system for those of you who would rather ignore my posts about my own Euro obsession: Dutch football. If you see the word 'Voetbal' (I think you can figure that one out) in the title, then you may want to ignore what follows. Or not. The Dutch league is often pretty interesting, and at other times good for a laugh.

Anyway, the Eredivisie, having reached its halfway point just after Christmas, is currently enjoying the winter break, or 'winterstop', as they call it.

Winter break: Like spring break, only colder.

I've had a good rundown of the action to date bookmarked for some time, and have been reading it in pieces, in between some of my more scholarly pursuits. You're welcome to do the same, though I should warn you that you may experience some linguistic difficulties.

The lead paragraph employs typically Dutch understated self-confidence:
Klein, fijn en immer onvoorspelbaar Eredivisie halverwege

AMSTERDAM - Wie het naar de overdaad van het clubvoetbal in Engeland of Spanje begerige oog kan sluiten, heeft zich ook het afgelopen halve seizoen kunnen vermaken met de verwikkelingen in de eredivisie. Klein maar fijn, is het predicaat.
In other words:
Small, good and always unpredictable Eredivisie at the halfway point

AMSTERDAM - Whoever is able to turn their greedy eyes away from the excess of club football in England and Spain could have amused themselves quite well with the developments in the eredivisie of the past half season. Sometimes good things come in small packages.
The article goes on to spill the details in a rather general way for those who haven't always been paying attention. In short, it's been entertaining for the following reasons:
  • 6 different teams have occupied top spot in the 17 matchdays of the season to date: PSV (Eindhoven), ADO (Den Haag), FC Groningen, NAC (Breda), Ajax (Amsterdam) and AZ (Alkmaar)
  • In contrast to previous years where the big city sides (Ajax and Feyenoord) have dominated, some of the boeren are now having their way; in particular AZ and FC Twente.
  • PSV, the strongest side in recent years, is 11 points off the chase
  • The reputation for attacking football is confirmed with an average of just over 3 goals per game.
  • 3 teams (Ajax, Twente, and NEC (Nijmegen)) remain in the UEFA Cup
  • The big money owners of the world like Abramovic are also popping up on the Dutch scene with mixed results (AZ - good, Utrecht - bad!)
Another nugget points to the strong attendance numbers. The league is averaging nearly 20 000 spectators per match, putting them right in the mix with Europe's strongest leagues. Not bad for a country of 16 million half the size of New Brunswick.

For the 2007-08 season:

League Attendance
Bundesliga 38612
EPL 36076
La Liga 29124
Serie A 23180
Ligue 1 (FR) 21804
Eredivisie 18732

Of Europe's leagues, it ranks sixth, which is probably where I'd rank the standard of play as well, although I suspect Russia is better than most would think.

An interesting development, more on the business side of things, is the proposal for a merger of some southern teams into a super club called FC Limburg. The idea was floated by the management of Roda JC (home of Marcel de Jong) and second tier side Fortuna Sittard, with fellow lower level teams MVV and VVV being encouraged by the KNVB (Dutch association) to go along for the ride.

Fortuna fans don't want to bus 30 km to matches

Fans are not pleased (headline translates to 'Few hearts have room for FC Limburg'). The Netherlands has a history of club mergers, just like any other country (ever wonder where all those 'United's come from?) with a particularly busy period in the 1950s and 60s. Case in point:

Almost as convoluted as a Steinbach family tree. (At least no names appear twice in this one.)

Even without including the lineage for MVV and VVV, the two principals Fortuna and Roda JC already make the picture cloudy enough. FC Limburg isn't a done deal yet, but something to watch.

Other news:Maybe throwing these real newsworthy items will convince people to read to the bottom next time.


squizz said...

If you really want people to read all the way to the end, put the bikini-clad snow bunny down there!

J said...

That's pretty solid advice. I also considered this picture

squizz said...

Oh, you should store that one for safe-keeping. Never know when it could come in handy.

Duane Rollins said...

Yeah, but is it half as cool as New Brunswick?

[/former Fredericton survi, er, resident.]

J said...

No, not half as cool, Duane. It's hard to compete with donairs, bagpipes, and a depressed resource based economy.