Not enough people these days can get down to the ground of their football team on matchday and go watch a match. In fact, I bet a lot of readers will not have gone to more than a handful of matches, if any, in their entire lives to support their club. I think this is a great shame as there is nothing like experiencing your team snatch a winner in the 90th minute or the constant sing song and banter with the away supporters. When you are in a stadium with tens of thousands of other people, all unified by one thing, you will often end up hugging a complete stranger as a wonder goal sends the crowd in euphoria. You really cannot experience phenomenal moments like these in your living room. You have to be there. But this is no fault of the supporters, as many would love to see their team play live. Ticket prices are the the main culprit. Plus, the growing move towards corporate hospitality at matches is killing the game.
The more corporate direction our wonderful league, the English Premier League, is moving toward, the more it is worrying. Growing numbers of seats are taken up by businessmen. People looking to conduct business, not support and encourage their club. They are not there actually to watch the match. Sooner or later, stadiums will be filled with people discussing anything but the football. But do football clubs care? Sadly, no. They are making more money because businessmen can afford to pay much more than your average football supporter.
The growing corporate trend in football is happening as clubs look to maximize their earning potential by putting ticket prices at extortionate levels, completely forgetting the common supporter. These days, a ticket to watch my beloved Manchester United will set me back in the region of £40, not to mention the cost of fuel to actually drive to the ground and back again. Add in the cost of a match programme and very quickly, it all starts to add up. Food and drink prices inside the stadium are ludicrous. An average sized Dairy Milk bar, which might usually cost 50p, will cost £1.50. Absolutely crazy. Wealthy foreign owners see football clubs as an opportunity to make some money. They will buy a football club having no knowledge or real interest in the beautiful game, price the ordinary man out of football matches simply to increase match day revenue. No consideration whatsoever for the life and soul of the club, the supporters. Disgraceful. But hey, at least some already mega wealthy foreigner has earned a few more bucks so he can move up the Forbes rich list a few places.
There are horrible consequences to this awful growing trend of high ticket prices brought on by foreign ownership. I have even heard stories of lifelong supporters who have been season ticket holders all their lives having to cancel their season ticket and watch the games at home for the sole reason that it is too expensive these days to get to matches. It is the great shame that people are being priced out like this.
However, I think when we first created the Premier League, we should have seen all this coming. I am proud that the Premier League is the finest and most popular league in the world. Matches are beamed to more than half a billion homes each game. Billions of pounds are paid in TV rights deals. Overseas revenue actually exceeds the amount from home now. It truly is a global league. But with the amount of money being pumped into the league, foreign owners are bound to buy Premier League football clubs. There’s big money in these clubs. It’s high stakes. It’s an opportunity to make a quick buck.
At Wigan, you can pick up a season ticket for an incredibly cheap £250. In comparison, the cheapest season ticket at Arsenal is more than three times that. Is it any surprise that the owner of Wigan is a lifelong football fan, Dave Whelan? He understands the game, understands that real fans should not be priced out. He favors having die hard supporters attending games over making a bit more money. I applaud him. Others should take note and follow suit. The Wigan way is the way forward.