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How Old Were You When You Bought Your 1st Fulham ST?

Started by White Noise, December 03, 2011, 09:23:42 AM

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White Noise

Why the 22,376 empty seats at Manchester United on Wednesday were a glorious sight for true football fans

By Brian Reade

Published 07:00 03/12/11

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Why Christmas has come early for Tottenham and a cure for any fan with a case of the Blues   

What a glorious sight that was at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.

Not the goal from Darren Ambrose.

Not the thunderous face on Sir Alex Ferguson as he headed for the dressing room looking like he was about to murder the Manchester United players who'd just denied him yet another ­semi-final appearance.


It was the 22,376 upturned seats sending out a message which said the days of English football taking its grass roots supporters for a ride may finally be over.

A chilling warning - in a week when all but the wealthiest were told to expect drastic cuts in their standard of living - that the time has come for English football to re-enter the real world.

We've all known, for a few years, that the fleecing of fans had reached saturation point. Yet still clubs ratcheted up the prices.

We've all known die-hard, working-class fans who've had to give up season tickets because that jump from £700 to £750 had broken them - hardcore supporters who are often replaced with ­tourists or well-heeled converts.

In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, the cost of watching football was roughly the same as watching films.

Go to the Chelsea Curzon cinema in west London tonight for a peak-time screening and it will cost you £10.50.

Go down the road to Stamford Bridge for an ­equivalent peak-time show (aka - a ­Category A game) and you'll pay £60.

At Liverpool, it now costs as much to watch one top game on the Kop as it did to stand on that same spot for the entire 1986-87 season.

It's not like this in Europe, where clubs ensure everyone who wants to can afford to enter stadiums (the average ticket in Germany costs £15).

Here's Matthew Bazell, writing in his excellent book on this subject, Theatre Of Silence: "With low-cost air travel it can be cheaper to fly to Milan, hop on a tram, buy a match ticket for Inter or AC, have a panini, and fly home, all for the same price as a ticket to a Premier League game."

I appreciate we all sit ­nowadays, and that stadiums have ­drastically improved (as has the profit they generate), but on every level these ticket prices are ­scandalous.

Not least because the low-paid are ­virtually ­disenfranchised - along with every kid whose dad can't afford to be ripped-off twice over.

Once, our grounds were buzzing with youngsters.

Today, the average age for a Premier League season-ticket holder is 44. And rising.

Where's the future in this? Where's the justification?

With Premier League clubs paying £71.8million to agents last year alone, and top players demanding £4m-£10m in wages, that answer may be obvious.

But in the bleak new world we now face, how much longer can this immoral madness be ­tolerated?

Had United lowered their prices against Crystal Palace on Wednesday, or given dramatic concessions to kids and the unemployed, they would have sold out.

Instead they got their lowest gate for six years.

Like those sub-prime ­mortgage lenders, football has been existing in a false bubble, paying itself more and gambling that there will always be mugs around to bail them out.

But as those blocks of empty Old Trafford seats show, we may be witnessing the beginning of a bursting bubble.


I brought my first season ticket in our promotion season, so I would have been 34ish.

No real need for one before then, really.