2010/11: Pre-season – Greed
The sad fact of the matter is that we live in a society of greed. If you want something you can usually get it if you are prepared to pay the price. If the demand is there, then those in charge know they can keep pushing that price upwards. It is an unpleasant reality. The recent case of Leeds United charging £4.99 for pre-season games on LUTV is a case in point. The galling thing is that Bates (like other Chairman) knows that fans will pay, because they love their club and they want to watch them no matter the cost.
But greed is widespread and is just accepted as part of football today. Take for instance replica shirts. Most clubs now have three shirts available for sale to fans. Tottenham Hotspur for 2010/11 have four new designs which cover home, away, third and European fixtures. This number could be increased even further if Spurs get separate sponsors for the various Cup competitions. It is complete and utter madness. Clubs ultimately don’t care, because they know fans will cough up and continue to buy them. Where is the Premier League and the Football League in all this? Why is there no legislation that says that teams only need two kits? Football has managed to survive all these years without the myriad of colours and designs that we are treated to now. Perhaps our “friends” at Sky are complicit in the kit debate as well?
Membership schemes are another recent area where clubs have cashed in on fans loyalty. Cosy old Fulham who under “cuddly Uncle” Roy Hodgson became everyone’s second favourite team when they reached the Europa League Final have taken the enlightened step of increasing their Membership scheme fees for adults from £20 to £30 (a year). A scheme which in essence gives you the privilege of buying match tickets after Season Ticket Holders, but ahead of the General public and in truth very little else.
I even wonder if the farce involving Ajax, Martin Jol and Fulham was little more than a grand game of avarice for the Dutchman? Did Jol have any real intention of leaving Ajax? Was the Fulham interest a lever to ensure that key players didn’t leave; a ploy to get the Board to provide investment for the purchase of new players? Improved contract Martin? Thanks very much Mr Chairman.
The madness of money was also seen recently with The FA and their sponsorship deal with Nationwide which is not to be extended. A year ago, Nationwide had tabled a £20m offer to extend the partnership for another four years, but this was turned down by The FA. Mistakenly The FA believed England would make more of an impact in the World Cup and held out in the hope of attracting a more lucrative offer. Pure greed ruled their thinking and an 11 year partnership has now been tossed away. Loving the loyalty and logic shown by the suits from Wembley Stadium.
To matters on the pitch and to end on a positive note; an England representative team showing considerably more fighting spirit is the England U19’s who are currently taking part in the European Championships in France. After a win against Austria and a controversial loss to the Netherlands, an equalising goal in the 93rd minute against hosts France ensured progression from the Group Stages. Later today, the team coached by ,Noel Blake play their Semi Final against Spain. Lets hope that the U19’s may be able to progress and add to the success of the England U17’s who beat Spain to take that European age-group title back in May this year. I hope Noels’ parting words before the team goes out go something along the lines of – get out onto that pitch and enjoy yourselves. Football is a game and achieving success as a team is what we strive for. The simple exhilarating joy comes from winning, not the financial gain that may come in the future. Money isn’t everything.