A statue of Sir Alex Ferguson - swearing at the referee in a display of crowd-pleasing petulance, and pointing angrily at his watch - has been unveiled outside Old Trafford. The artwork, called ‘A Brief History of Extra Time’ commemorates the Manchester United manager’s contributions to football, the abuse of match officials and the intricacies of time management... specifically the addition of a few extra minutes at the end of any game that United happens to be losing.
This is just the start of an artistic renaissance at Premier League stadia. Other clubs too are hoping to ‘create community cohesion’ by commissioning crap, site-specific artworks. Manchester City is getting an elaborate installation by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, complete with ‘hubbub’ sound effects, featuring thousands of tiny figures looking skywards... to represent what ‘noisy neighbours’ would look like if viewed from space.
For Chelsea FC, Anthony Gormley is creating a tableau of nine, almost identical figures, negotiating a rapidly revolving door... to represent the nine managers the club has had since Roman Abramovich bought it, as a money-laundering exercise, in 2003.
Damien Hirst has donated a sculpture - ‘the unknown player’ - to Newcastle United, to be sited outside St James’ Park. Made from fans’ body fluids - tears mostly - the artwork depicts a footballer pushing a wheelbarrow full of golden coins past a crowd of cash-strapped Geordies queueing to renew their season tickets. “It represents the love of money”, said Hirst at the recent unveiling, “and the frustrations of playing against a flat back four”.
Having won a competition to represent the club’s ambitions in graphic form, amateur dauber Sally Hardcastle is starting a year-long placement as Wigan Athletic’s artist in residence. Her paintings, mostly featuring rainbows and unicorns, represent “the fans’ unrealistic expectations, and their desire to be anywhere else but Wigan”. The canvases will be put on display in the club’s trophy cabinet, which is currently empty.
Harry Redknapp, the new manager of QPR, has declined the offer of a dedicated artwork at Loftus Road, on account of having "too many immobile figures on the playing staff already”...