Manchester City Take it Away

Manchester City Take it Away

It a shame that the first Football Reflective post in little over a year, and the one to start a new season, is one that’s bound to aim negativity at the defending, record breaking, title retaining Premier League champions. If the sole purpose was to kick-off the 2019/20 campaign with a moan there were far easier targets, but we can save VAR for another day. And FFP is only ever two minutes away from another (well deserved) public stoning.

Manchester City caught the attention of the searchlight by skipping across the prison yard, hoping to escape with thousands of Ticket Points. Until Wednesday afternoon, all seasoncard holders were expecting to collect additional points for every away game they attended. The season long uncertainty for many: weighing up on which day of sale the window will open for them; will it even get that far down the list; should they buy for a dead rubber European away game to collect valuable bonus points, is now a thing of the past.

The new system strips away the secondary method of obtaining points. From now on, only matches played at home generate Ticket Points. This is an attempt to kill the secondary market of ticket resales. Or if we’re to call it for what it has become, touting. Those sat atop the Ticket Point pile can never be caught. They have first dibs on tickets so they always buy them, many regardless of their intention to attend or not.

It has to be said, this isn’t the case with all those rolling around in excess Ticket Points but it’s enough to ensure the points rich stay wealthy and the rest are left scrambling to get away games under their belt. Many will sell on at face value but there are those that profit financially. The problem with City’s new set of rules, is they effectively freeze the points system. Everyone desiring away games presumably has a seasoncard. Whatever the points gap is now, will never change.

Unless a person opts out of cup schemes or avoids the Platinum reward scheme. This has been much maligned over the years. The offer of paying £50 to double Ticket Points earned. A little brown envelope to the ticket office so they can make you appear more loyal. Unfortunately, what was once a subtle bribe will now become a necessity to prevent the 1% widening the gap during a period of stasis.

On top of the away game Ticket Points deletion, the upcoming season will see randomly selected supporters chosen to collect their ticket in person from the opposition’s ticket office. They will be given notice five days before. It’ll be interesting how many are selected per game, and how many then claim they’re actually unable to attend. In principle, this is a sound idea. It prevents the secondary market, it’s the execution City need to master. It was a disaster for European away games.

It’s also an option that should have been tried alongside the traditional method of issuing Ticket Points for away games. A strict vetting procedure could have stopped the 1% buying tickets for matches they couldn’t attend and allowed those below them to slowly amass some genuine points.

Instead, City have gone for the nuclear option. Hopefully this isn’t Phase 1 of a wider operation which sees the average fan further marginalised and given less hope of securing match day tickets.

On a plus note, they have acknowledged the difficulties facing younger supporters. If old fans in the Ticket Points middle ground can’t play catch-up, spare a thought for the 18 to 25-year-olds. They never stood a chance.  The new season will see 5% of away day ticket allocation going into a ballot. That comes out at 150 of 3,000 seats. This seems a fair reduction to general sale to get those denied by nothing more than their year of a birth, a chance to see the Citizens away from home.

Again, it’s a shame they won’t be awarded points for it. The status quo will remain. Unless the club have a wild card up their sleeve. Will they be monitoring fans that regularly attend away matches who would previously been denied due to their low points and inflate their Ticket Points accordingly come the end of May?

The new proposals are bound to receive a backlash. They deal out more punishments than rewards and fail to address underlying issues. It also opens the door for more tiresome “jokes” about empty seats. Hopefully, before next season City will conduct a proper consultation with a wider audience of the fanbase and not a select few who speak without elected authority.


Anna is no Atomic Blonde

Anna is no Atomic Blonde

Anna is going to be one of those films that develops a cult following in the years to come. It’s certainly not one that’s impressed at the box office and it hasn’t been showered with kind words by influential critics. That’s a shame and an oversight. Luc Besson’s latest movie deserved a little more attention.

It’s far from a masterpiece and this isn’t a fanboy review. There is also an argument there’s nothing entirely new here. Beeson’s best film, La Femme Nikita, is effectively given a modern makeover, albeit with a Cold War take. This has led to comparisons with Atomic Blonde (another underrated film) but they are different beasts.

Atomic Blonde’s Lorraine Broughton, played by Charlize Theron, is a fully-formed MI6 agent sent to Berlin to find a double agent. There are hints of backstory and an noticeable attempt to appear flash and cool. It’s based on a graphic novel and compared to Anna the characters do feel like something pulled from the pages of a comic book. This isn’t a bad thing, it just isn’t a Luc Besson thing.

The fight sequences between the two movies take different approaches too. Atomic Blonde’s only become clear when viewed as a whole. In the early phases of the film, the action combat lacks impact, appears substandard. The final fight is so slick, clever and dynamic its as if director David Leitch found an extra set of gears.

It could be a clever trick: set the bar low, then blow them away.

Beeson’s build is more character focused. Like La Femme Nikita, violence is thrown at the viewer early on, this adds to a visceral feel. The movie is about Anna’s journey from a person who has nothing, no choices, to becoming a primed assassin. Each action sequence matches the state of her development perfectly.

Anna does subtle time jumps, back and forth, laying the breadcrumbs for everything that follows. With this being a Hollywood friendly version of the Nikita framework, nothing is unforeseen and all ambiguity explained. Beeson even reuses a closing scene from La Femme Nikita with two of Anna’s acquaintances sat at a table wondering where she is. Unlike the former film, an extra fifteen minutes is added to fully explain.

Both movies have a strong supporting cast. James McAvoy is a zany support to Theron’s blonde of the picture’s title and Cillian Murphy channels his best Michael Keaton in every scene he shares with Sasha Luss. She plays a good Anna, a woman with a singular drive – freedom. Based on this performance, she should be free to choose her next role.

A Week is a Long Time in Politics, A Year is a Short Time in Writing

A Week is a Long Time in Politics, A Year is a Short Time in Writing

After a sabbatical, the time has come to relaunch The Kinswah Reflective. Relaunch is too grandiose a term when we’re not even refreshing the header section or changing the font. Maybe a discrete stepping out of the shadows is a more fitting term.

The title of this post plays on the old saying about a week in politics. At this point everyone takes a sharp intake of breath. They think: He’s going to mention the “B” word. I won’t. Well, not today. There’s much been said already and closer to the time, perhaps a rant on these pages wouldn’t go a miss. It’s also a handy way to cut the potential readers in half.

It’d be a great return if right now there was something tangible to show for the absence. Like a book deal or hosting a new football chat platform after years of stellar articles. Alas, I come empty-handed. The time not spent writing here hasn’t been wasted. Foundations have been laid elsewhere, and if all things go to plan (which would be a first), 2020 should see some fruits of that labour.

I did score a win in a short story competition which was also compiled into an anthology available on the Kindle store. This would usually be the opening to shamelessly plug a title but I can’t recommend a story I’ve not read myself. This poses the question: once an author cuts the apron strings with the work, does he ever check in with his creation? It’s also true that I’ve never read books released under my pen name, which makes research for sequels difficult.

It was strange to think after years of sports writing not a word has been said about Manchester City’s domestic treble in these pages, the rise of heavyweight boxing, the decline of Formula 1, or the best the small and silver screen have served up.

So much to write, so little time.