Fans of dozens of clubs from the Premier League and Football League marched on their shared headquarters in London last week to vent their fury at rising ticket prices.
I’ve discussed on this blog before the extent to which clubs care about the huge stress their supporters put on their own finances – ie not a huge amount. However, I was heartened – in covering the event for the Evening Standard and London Live – by the sense of reality most fans seemed to have.
Chatting to those on the march, most understand that the clubs are businesses which won’t simply slash prices because they’re asked to and that fans are a captive market whose single-minded loyalty can be exploited.
It is worth noting the sense of pride I felt in seeing a bunch of bedraggled but noisy football fans walking down Oxford Street singing with the Primark-addicted masses and tourists open mouthed watching on.
When the march reached the FA headquarters, however, without any obvious, pre-planned chants the crowd perhaps didn’t make Richard Scudamore and co really hear their fury. Simply standing there briefly and heading for a much-needed pint was probably not the best tactic regardless of the rain. This report gives an interesting insight into the meeting.
Whilst I don’t agree with some of the Football Supporters’ Federation’s goals – it needs to recognise football does move on and change with the modern world – the pricing of football tickets in the UK is obscene and the federation's campaign an excellent one. To pay more than to go to a gig or the theatre, often to see your team lose in the rain following an awkward kick-off time, feels greedy and that’s before time, travel and frequency of matches are brought into the debate.
A recognition that this is a long battle was a feeling in abundance, which was refreshing, and in the short-term if prices could simply plateau that would feel like a real victory. Ultimately, no one wants to watch games played in empty stadiums and more needs to be done to prevent this from happening.