Well you made my point in a way. The Fall have become something more than a band in lots of people's eyes - just as football has become more than a sport. (you mention Nick Hornsby, whose success seems part of a similar trend). The BBC, the Guardian, et al, seem far less interested in The Fall as a band, and far more concerned with MES. He's become some kind of a beacon for what they perceive to be a sort of lost Englishness (eccentricity, ironic wit, the hobbyist over the professional, traditional working class values, etc.)
You can hardly go into a gastro-pub these days without overhearing a conversation about the the merits of the 4-4-2 system or the new Fall album.