Effete, Gitanes-puffing North London soccer aristocrats Arsenal have come up with a novel way of keeping pitchside fans in touch with their travails - from next season they can watch the Gunners play on Sony PlayStation Portable devices.
There's an irony, eh? There's a better-than-even chance that Gooners will be able to watch hot Uefa Cup action on a device made by Champions League sponsor Sony. And how on earth is Arsene 'I saw nothing' Wenger going to plead myopia next time one of his players takes an axe to an opponent, when Pat Rice is sitting next to him pootling with his PSP? (It may send Wenger over the edge. He might, you know, spend some money on a player.)
Still, it's a better-than-interesting idea, likely to come soon to a stadium near you (unless you follow Portsmouth, in which case you'll be grateful for a roof).
Arse' fans are already used to being spoon fed pre-match entertainment and in-match stats on HD screens at the Emirates Library. Allowing them to plug in via a handheld is the next logical step. In time they'll be able to stay in the bar picking at olives and discussing the latest Nick Hornby 'novel'. The whole messy business of actually watching grown men wallop leather can be consigned to history. Trust me my friends, it's the future of top level football.
Arsenal's Adrian Ford told Reuters that the Sony app has been tested and could be live within 18 months - in time for next season's (anti)climax. Barring rights issues and the odd technical glitch, fans in the stadium will be able to watch live streaming of a game, and get near-instant replays of pretty passing moves petering out, the latest Adebayor flounce and Kevin Davies flattening William Gallas. Again, and again. And again.
Sony's Eric Siereveld said that there could be a social-networking aspect to the PSP/soccerball crossover: "This device brings an extra dimension to the game with information and statistics. But we think that the next generation of the software that runs it could actually link fans during the game with each other."
Fans messaging each other will inevitably lead to factionalism, trolling and flame. But they could settle their differences via the medium of gaming. With luck the next generation of football violence could involve nothing more antisocial than powerups, trash talk and downloading magic swords. Reared on computer games, Facebook and ready meals, the youth of today is way too lardy to chase or be chased for real. Go soccer!
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