At one time football fans were vitally important, they were the life blood of the game, they were the reason for the games existence and they were definitely the reason it was so popular. That was until the formation of the Premier League when businessmen saw the game mainly as a revenue stream with great potential to earn millions of pounds nationally and internationally and be socially accepted in boardrooms up and down the country. The reality is that greed was the foundation upon which the Premier League was built and still is to this day. It is sadly the working man’s game no longer.
Today the fans are still vitally important in League One and League Two and just about important in the Championship.
At one time falling attendances would set of the alarm bells in most boardrooms but in the current money mad Premier League as long as the team stays up they will happily cope with it. Gate revenue is a very small part of a Premier League clubs overall income. No longer do the fans pay the players wages. The reality is that the fans are no more than extra’s in a big TV production.
However for the supporters it is and always will be about tradition and family history-that is what drags us down to a ground when it’s freezing cold and the team is not in great form and you can add into that mix very expensive ticket prices. Clubs, understandably in this money mad game, play on our affinity to the club.
Premier League clubs will argue and tell you in no uncertain terms that the fans are important! However they will kick off at any time to suit the TV schedulers irrespective of how inconvenient it is to the supporters. Don’t just blame the TV companies because the Premier League and Championship clubs have to agree to the TV deal and, in my opinion, were blinded by the love of money and it is that love of money that is the root of all footballs evils.
Foreign TV rights bring in multi-millions of pounds to the Premier League and this has now resulted in an Orwellian type situation where the six so called bigger clubs want more of the money in a financially elitist stance that beggars belief. In English it means the other 14 clubs can take what they are given and be grateful. Foreign TV audiences want to see certain clubs on their screens which relegates most Premier League clubs to being bit part players, no more than just extras. So it’s easy to arrive at the conclusion that the fans are no longer as important to clubs as they once were despite the lip service paid to them.
What gets managers the sack in the Premier League is not results per se but the risk of dropping out of the cash rich Premier League as a consequence of those bad results. Most owners would not sack a manager if could guarantee staying in the top flight and therefore keep the annual minimum of 100’000 million pounds rolling into the clubs bank account.
Players and managers have often turned their back on the greatest cup competition on the planet, the FA Cup, as their money addled brains convinces them it will advantageous in their fight to stay in the Premier League. It also happens even more so in the League Cup and the Europa League.
Every championship club is striving to get into the Premier League but not for glory but to feed at the breast of the cash cow even if it is only for one season. However it is different for the championship clubs supporters who want to reach the Premier League to compete against the very best teams and see better players playing for their clubs.
However, when I say TV I don’t necessarily mean SKY or BT because the digital revolution could see on line companies such as Facebook, Google, Amazon or Netflix buy their way into football and stream games online for a fee. In fact SKY have already lost the ATP Tennis to Amazon who were reported to have paid over 50 million pounds to get it.
The Premier League are using the courts to end illegal free streaming of their games in a bid to make themselves more attractive to their TV partners and potential partners. It is always about money. So the rights are set to increase in value and if SKY and BT waver then online companies will pounce. So the obsession with money is set to get worse.
So next time you feel like making a stand, making a protest by staying away or letting them know how unhappy you are at any given situation don’t bother because we are well down the Premier League pecking order of importance behind TV money, League sponsors and club Sponsors.
Yet week in and week out you will be there wearing your scarf, buying your programme and pie because you are addicted to your club, it is a love affair that cannot be broken, It is your religion, the ground is your church where you turn up in all weathers to worship and there is nothing you can do about it because it’s in your blood and don’t the clubs know it.