Fixtures are out, let’s all get excited
From today’s Independent:
To coincide with today’s release of the 2013/14 fixture list, fans are marching on Premier League headquarters in London to express their anger at ticket prices. Here, Football Supporters’ Federation chief executive Kevin Miles explains their position…
For years football fans have been telling anyone who’ll listen that far too many clubs charge far too much money for match tickets. Unfortunately, not many in football have been listening.
The news that Manchester City returned 900 tickets for their January 2013 visit to Arsenal was the ember that sparked the current fire and drew much media talk. A Premier League game was largely remembered for what happened off the pitch rather than on it thanks to unaffordable £62 tickets.
On the back of that the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) launched Twenty’s Plenty for Away Tickets after meeting with fans representing dozens of clubs across the country. Fans can sign the Twenty’s Plenty petition which auto-emails their own clubs, Premier League or Football League and the FA.
The FSF also called on fans and supporters’ groups to launch their own actions and today’s protest by Spirit of Shankly at Premier League HQ is a great example of this. The protest coincides with the release of 2013/14’s fixtures and we’ll be along to give our support.
What should be an exciting day filled with anticipation will, for many, be tinged with worries about season ticket prices, expensive away days, and worries about games being shunted around for TV’s benefit.
Looking at the big picture it is of course the clubs’ willingness to bend to TV’s every whim, often at the expense of fans, which has secured a gargantuan £5.5bn global rights deal over the next three years.
Clubs are awash with money and the increase from the last deal alone is enough to cut every single ticket at every single game by £51.30. They could basically hand out free tickets; fans are realistic enough to know that isn’t going to happen, but is a reduction of some sorts too much to ask?
However, clubs shouldn’t just do it out of the goodness of their hearts. It’s for their own benefit and could go a long way to “future-proofing” their own income streams.
After all, there’s no guarantee these huge TV deals will keep on coming if crowds collapse. Will TV viewers in North America or Asia fork out for Premier League subscriptions if stands look empty and atmospheres appear stagnant?
On-field action is central but football needs match-going fans too. Without colour and noise pouring out from the crowd the “product” isn’t quite so exciting.
Over the past couple of decades money has poured into the game. Clubs quite rightly reinvested some of that back into stadiums, training grounds and so on.
Players soon felt the benefit too making multi-millionaires of many young men. A recent report by Deloitte found that £3 out of every £4 in new money raised by clubs goes to players and, by extension, agents.
Fans don’t necessarily begrudge players earning good money. They’re elite athletes, provide amazing entertainment, and the Premier League draws some of the best footballers on the planet.
But after decades of spiralling player wages and ticket prices, isn’t it about time fans also felt the benefit of huge revenues via lower ticket prices?
Fans have a voice – get involved and do your bit by signing the FSF’s Twenty’s Plenty petition.