From my Birmingham Mail Column Weds Ovt 24th 2018
Watching a live game on TV is, in my opinion, the last resort as there is nothing like being at a live game. TV never really captures the atmosphere you get when at the ground or the smells of hot dogs, beef burgers and Bovril that scream football as the waft from food vans inside and outside the grounds drifts around you as you make your way into the ground. Plus of course there is that special feeling you get when watching a game under floodlights which only adds to the atmosphere.
I see that accusations have been levelled at the EFL for allowing every midweek game to be shown live on SKYs red button claiming that they are affecting attendances in the Championship. I am not so sure how accurate these accusations are but it gives much food for thought.
I understand that showing every game in midweek is a great service for those fans whose team are playing away from home and because of work commitments or finance have difficulty getting to the game.
I also fully understand the cost implications for home supporters as it is expensive for a family to go to a game especially when they are faced with two home games back to back.
However football sold its soul to TV who to be honest can do whatever they want and to hell with how much it inconveniences the supporters. They, I am sure, are more than happy to have all midweek games shown live because that allows them to maximise revenue from advertisers.
The clubs have no one to blame but themselves because they would have had to sign up and agree with any TV deal.
Perish the thought that the EFL would ever agree to do the same for Saturday games that kick off at 3pm. At the moment there is a blackout with no games allowed to be televised. However I wonder just how long they will hold out before the love of money supersedes what is good for the game.
Most kids are computer savvy and can usually find a live stream of any Premier League game and perhaps football should be finding ways to stop that and encouraging people to turn up at games to support their team.
Without any fear of argument its supporters who make the game in fact they are the game without them in the grounds/stadiums there is no game. Without them there is no 13 million pounds of TV rights money. Without them there are no big wages for managers, players and agents. Without them there would be no sponsors pumping in millions to clubs.
So Clubs should start tempting them to ignore the red button and get to the live games and start with reducing prices to a more affordable level. And doing deals such as “kids for a quid”. But not just on games where clubs are concerned about attendance levels, which, by the way, are usually midweek when school nights make it difficult for parents. Make offers such as “kids for a quid” on Saturdays and I am sure that will persuade parents to bring their children and begin the football indoctrination we all went through
Once people get into the habit of not going to games it will be difficult to get them back into the habit of going. Of course the sad and realistic consequence of all this is that you risk losing a new generation of supporters. I long for the day when those in authority at the Premier League, The EFL and the clubs make decisions based on what is best for the game and its fans rather than what makes them the most money.
I have though for years that TV would put our great game in mortal danger and I haven’t changed my mind. There are far too many games live end of story.
From next season over half of all Premier League games will be live with more Championship games also available.
Another side effect is that with the so called bigger clubs getting the Lion’s share of live games it only makes them stronger and the rest weaker. Money is not the root of all football evil-it’s the love of money that is the real root of football evil. That makes for greedy clubs, managers and players.