Merger talk is stupid, boring and misguided

Sheffield United boast a long and proud history
Sheffield United boast a long and proud history

My first reaction, being brutally honest, was to stifle a yawn.

Then, having discovered that the idea of a merger between Sheffield’s two professional teams was once again being mooted, I simply shook my head in dismay.

Calls for United and Wednesday to tear-up a combined 270 years of history have become boringly predictable whenever both find themselves at the wrong end of their respective leagues.

The idea being that by becoming Steel City FC or whatever godforsaken name the marketing drones would conjure-up should the unthinkable ever happen, that a top-flight place, European competition and centuries of domination would be assured.

Which is, of course, complete and utter rubbish. Not least because the argument furthered by folk who fail to grasp the true essence of English football is totally flawed.

Why? Well let’s consider a few facts.

Sheffield, so we are told, is not big enough to support two Premiership teams. Liverpool seems to manage pretty well despite boasting a substantially smaller population. Likewise, more to the point, so did United and Wednesday during the early Nineties. Anyway, there you go.

But the biggest mistake people peddling this ridiculous notion are guilty of making is assuming that size inevitably equals success. Which fails to explain how Swansea, Hull and Stoke have all out-performed our sides in recent seasons. Imagination also counts.

In any case, would a merged club generate millions in off the pitch income? The answer, almost certainly, is no. Sponsors would be scared-off by the inevitable furore as refusniks among both sets of supporters opted not to pledge their allegiance.

That’s why, despite punching above their weight in Scotland and being located in one of Europe’s fastest growing cities, Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s average gate this term is the lowest in the SPL. I bet that would not have been the case if either Caledonian or Inverness Thistle had ever found themselves rubbing shoulders with Hibernian, Celtic or Hearts.

But forget all that. Great football clubs are all about characters, communities and people.

Sheffield should shout about the fact, for all their problems, it boasts two of those. Not yearn for a future when it is represented by one with even less gravitas than an X-Factor judge.

*Twitter: @JamesShield1