Where’s Mum and the kids?
Never having lived in the UK, I have often wondered how the ordinary football fan can possibly afford to attend Premier League matches let alone purchase season tickets to watch their favourite team play!
Maybe I’ve been spoiled. As my four children were growing up in Australia, our regular weekend outing was to go and watch my team, week in week out as a family without breaking the bank. My wife used to hate my obsession with football when we first got married but soon came around to be almost as fanatical as I was after the first few matches.
Our children were the same to the point that even today, 25 – 30 years later, they stay up until all hours of the night every weekend to watch Premier League matches live from England on television and encourage their children to do likewise.
My concern is that a highly disturbing pattern may have gradually crept up in the UK and indeed all over the world. Dads may still be going to the stadiums but is Mum? Are the children? Do they stay home to watch their teams play on the box beacause of the prohibitive cost of attending matches with dad?
Even more worrying is the likely possibility that football has already sold its soul and its future to television!
Have a close look at the disturbing table below then read about what’s happening at one of the biggest clubs in the world and tell me that the future of football does not look bleak!
Recession Biting Even At Old Trafford
By Oliver Kay, The Times Online, 3 August 09
Not so long ago, after setting up one of those study groups that has always been the hallmark of a football club in touch with their customers, Manchester United uncovered the shocking truth that hundreds of their season ticket-holders were dead.
The discovery had stemmed from a long-held suspicion that families were clinging on to and renewing their treasured season tickets long after their owners had passed on. In a move that was, depending on your view, either warm-hearted, overdue or extremely cynical, the club wrote to 3,400 season ticket-holders who appeared, on their database, to be senior citizens, offering a 30 per cent price reduction for those who could prove their age. Fewer than half responded.
United supporters have always complained that waiting for a season ticket at Old Trafford is “like waiting for a dead man’s shoes”, but it transpired that it was actually worse than that. The shoes had already been passed on and would be kept in the family for generations. Fast forward seven years and a jaw-dropping headline jumps out from United’s website: “Season tickets available”. This is not an advertising feature.
This is a snapshot of how the recession, combined with aggressive ticket-pricing policies at United and elsewhere, is leading supporters to turn their backs on the clubs they love. United are not the greatest example — those remaining tickets will probably be snapped up in the end and the ground, by far the biggest in England, will be full to its 76,212 capacity for just about every game — but if supply is suddenly surpassing demand at Old Trafford, of all places, is it not time for football to take a reality check?
United are not concerned about losing the odd long-serving supporter, just as long as enough of their precious corporate ticket-holders stick around. In the meantime, the club have been rattling out letters to members of their OneUnited scheme to offer them season tickets to Old Trafford, the theatre that was hitherto beyond their wildest dreams.
Many have gleefully taken up the offer, but nothing like all. The dead man’s shoes, once waved in front of their noses, no longer seemed quite so tempting.