Things can be different.

20 05 2011

Just when you’re in despair with association football something comes along to cheer you up. It turns out that there is an alternative way of doing things

The existence of an alternative is fantastic because the world of football desperately needs an alternative to the business model favoured by the premier league, FIFA and UEFA. Football is just too overblown and too rapacious. The situation is so bad that even the “best fans in the world” are staring to notice, look at this article from the Guardian ;

Close to one in seven season ticket holders across the four divisions of English football will not be renewing their season tickets next season as costs rise, according to a new survey.

The survey of 4,091 season ticket holders and other regular match-goers found that, with the average cost of a match day rising 18% since last year to £101.04, 13% of fans would not renew, while 18% of non-season ticket holders also planned to cut back.

The findings, from Virgin Money’s Football Fans’ Inflation Index, shows the trend appears to be strongest in the Premier League, where 15% of season ticket holders say they are not renewing, and 31% of non-holders will be cutting back on the tickets they buy.

Among specific clubs, Manchester United’s figure for non-renewals is 28%, Aston Villa 27% and Arsenal 22%. By contrast, only 4% of Liverpool fans surveyed claim they will not renew.

Malcolm Clarke, chair of the Football Supporters’ Federation, said: “Football fans face the same economic difficulties, including redundancies, short-time working, soaring petrol costs and wages not keeping up with inflation, as everyone else.

“In this situation it would not be surprising if many of them are forced to cut back on watching the game they love. The tragic paradox is that the football industry still has huge sums of money coming into it at the top of the game, mostly through media rights. But too much of it stays at the top and too much of it is used on ridiculously high player wages, rather than on helping its loyal customers through these difficult times.”

Of course when there is economic uncertainty superfluous items like football season tickets can easily be shed by people. When you add in the “natural” price rises the choice to relinquish a season ticket becomes less like a choice. Earlier this week Liverpool announced rises in the cost of their tickets. If you want to watch the world-famous reds you will now have to fork out at least £39. But this doesn’t matter as Liverpool. “… believe that this rise represents the fairest level of increase we could offer, whilst helping to ensure we maintain our significantly reduced debt position and our aspirations to improve our playing squad.”  Don’t worry about the economic situation lads!!!

Liverpool don’t seem to mind trends like  “the average cost of a match day rising 18% since last year to £101.04″, a trend the Jet Set noticed earlier this season. Unfortunately Liverpool, and other clubs, don’t mind using inflated prices as a method to make  us pay off the massive debts they ran up trying to retain status of the “platinum club2. As Liverpool’s spokesman puts it; by buying tickets the fans are “…helping to ensure we maintain our significantly reduced debt position….”  Unfortunately this logic seems to be rather shockingly accepted as self-evident logic by most fans. Unfortunately there are still enough of them willing to buy into the premier league dream.

I have read in the past that these rising prices are ok because “in real terms” they are usually not that great. To put this idea another way, in “real terms” it used to cost £6 to stand on the Kop in 1992, but now it will cost at least £39 to sit there. That’s a rise of over 600%. In the same rough period a kilogram of sausages went from £2.25 per kilo on average to £3.16 per kilo on average, which is a rise of about 40%.  How long will clubs go on expecting us all to swallow this crap?

The funny thing about the inflation of football ticket prices is that it is not linked  to other economic indicators, it’s tied to the simple idea that people will charge what they think they can get away with. Or to put it another way; it’s the blessed market economy in action. So how long will clubs go on expecting us all to swallow this crap? About as long as we’re willing to open our mouths.

It’s “our” fault because “we” are the mugs that are willing to pay. Unfortunately mug punters are particularly rife in the premier league’s higher echelon, so if one fan decides against renewing all this means is another space is freed up for one of the 100s of thousands in waiting. Due to the holy market economy we live in, the highest echelon sets the bar for the rest of us. It’s not hard to imagine that before long we’ll see most tickets costing over £30 in the n-power championship.

Every Sky subscription, club card and replica shirt sold is further justification that the owners will use to continue ripping us all off. It’s a shame that more fans of English clubs aren’t as radical as Italian fans or French journalists in matters like this.  If we don’t stop paying for it then it’s hard to know where the clubs will stop. Just look at this excerpt of an e-mail I received from When Saturday Comes

“I got this from the North West Business Insider email. The only surprise is that Garry Cook hasn’t put his name to it.”

Manchester City FC have unveiled a new trial design for their platinum level corporate boxes at the City of Manchester Stadium, dubbed the “corporate box of the future”. For last night’s match against Stoke City, two boxes were cleared to make way for the installation of two, 8ft high by 11ft wide, bespoke sets sponsored by Heineken and Harvey Nichols. The “his” box is inspired by Heineken’s “walk in fridge” advertising campaign and is billed as a chill-out zone, housing 350 chilled bottles of beer. The Harvey Nichols box features more than 100 pieces of designer clothes, jewellery, handbags and shoes from Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin.

The club stressed that this is a trial run as it looks to increase the range of “matchday experiences”. City’s new corporate marketing manager Justice Ellis said: “The objectives were two fold; to create a fans’ tribute to the walk-in fridge commercial, while working with two business partners to create the corporate box of the future. We know our customers value a bespoke and unique experience every time they visit. This concept turns the traditional corporate box on its head, showing that anything is possible in creating an experience that excites and engages. We want to show brands that they can do so much more than a standard box set-up. We’re prepared to work with them to make every game an event.”

Yeah, why let the match actually become the foical point of going to a football match whena “……… concept turns the traditional corporate box on its head, showing that anything is possible in creating an experience that excites and engages. Without that every game would not be an event and what a crying shame that would be for the world. an event.”

The tackiness just oozes through the wortds. The situation we face may resemble “one step forward, three back” but at least with clubs like FC United and AFC Wimbledon there is a step forward.

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