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Sunday, 24 August 2014

image for Premier League football to feature sealions from next year
A Japanese training camp for sealion footballers has provided its own reality TV show

In a move that may alienate more traditional fans but is sure to increase the popularity of the game, the Football Association is to allow clubs to sign sealions to replace human players starting from the 2015-2016 season.

Sealions are pinnipeds with flippers who have long been known for their natural ball skills. In the Japanese J-league top division 1, they have been allowed since the league started in the early 1990s, and the current top scorer for Kawasaki Frontale is a sealion called Yoshito.

Although they cannot be taught the offside rule, it is possible to teach them basic dribbling skills. As they have no hands, they do not need to worry about handball. They also make excellent goalkeepers.

In Japan one sealion called Kenji even became a linesman. For weeks, people would tune in to watch him march up and down the sideline barking at rule infringements. Kenji doubled the TV audiences for the game. Sadly he was later caught and eaten by a local fisherman who was unaware of his celebrity status.

If sealions are introduced to the English game, they would undoubtedly increase flagging audiences. Certainly there is no doubt that "the boring game" as it is commonly known needs more excitement. FA spokesman Geoff Huck explained, "I was watching a Premier League game last week, it were 'Sea against 'Ton. And I suddenly realised, f*** me this is boring! Men running around chasing a ball for 90 minutes - what kind of moron would watch that every week of the f***ing year! No wonder we're losing viewers. Let's bring in some monkeys or lions or something to liven it up. Maybe we could flood the stadia like they used to do in gladiatorial contests in the Colosseum in ancient Rome. Because football is a really boring and repetitive game where nothing of interest happens for long periods of time. It needs something. So eventually we settled on sealions."

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