It used to be said that football was the preserve of the working classes, and it stayed that way for decades. But society was starting to change; the working man became the middle-class man with more cash than he had ever had before in his pockets. Football also noticed changes. After the war, European Football was added to the domestic league and cups. Which meant fans began to travel to new destinies further afield.
Directors from the top clubs (United, Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool and Everton) showed their power by demanding changes and more of the cash. Old football Divisions fell and were replaced by the Premier League, the Championship etc. The supporters of Tottenham Hotspur saw their beloved shelf make way for Executive Boxes. From there it was a matter of knocking the skittles over until the ball had a free run.
Satellite dishes began to pop up, subscription TV was here, and they wanted a slice of the football action, and they were prepared to pay for it. But that came at a cost. Players wages went up grotesquely, along with what the players were sold for. This created a knock on effect. Season ticket prices also started to rise, Premium seating arrived with cushioned seats, dining areas, social meeting places, waitresses (waiters, to keep it politically correct), beer on tap, dining rooms, as well as the Executive Boxes and much more. All at a cost (but if you can afford it, then why not?). And the fans lapped it up (even though there were a few moans here and there along the way).
Football is no longer a working man’s sport, but the domain of the rich or at least the well off. Somebody once said to me that football is pricing itself out and customers will stop coming. Really, I don’t think so! There is no sign of that happening at the moment. And how much is too much? When they can’t fill the seats because of pricing, then it might be time to rethink matters, but until then forwards and upwards is the motto.
As for those that cry, “it isn’t fair…” I say, it was never fair. Even going back before this new enterprise became into existence there was always those that looked up to those that could afford a season ticket. Slash prices and there will still be those who will still moan and say “why can’t I?”
But the changes won’t stop there. The whole footballing structure will change as well. Domestic football will make way for European Club football or World Club football.
Since I’ve been going to White Hart Lane, I’ve noticed supporters from all over the world coming to the ground. Even season ticket holders from across Europe and even America and Asia gracing us with their presence and money. But it won’t stop there. Buying below par Asian players or even American players (where the big markets are) have their uses; even if the players don’t fit the bill. It creates interest in our club from those countries, and even if those players might only get a few try-outs or occasional substitutions when we are in a comfortable position, it doesn’t matter, the objective is to create a massive fan base (more fans equal more cash for the club). Then those players move on and are replaced by others of such “value”. It is all about profit, image and global marketing. And whatever anybody says about it, the rich/ wealthy or just those that have money to burn are buying into the thinking, or at least going along with it.
Football is changing. But is it for the better? Every new awakening or phase causes discontent, anxiousness and fear. That is why you get pushbacks, but in the end, we end up accepting it. Just like the Shelf made way for the Executive Boxes, Divisions made way for the Premier League, just like White Hart Lane is making way for the 21st Century new profit-making stadium. The old (i.e. people) will eventually die to make way for the new and fresh, who will accept what they’ve always had around them. Then new challenges come along, new innovations and further protests and the whole thing is repeated Ad infinitum until man no longer exists. It is life Jim, maybe not necessarily how we want to perceive it… but life nevertheless/ or just plain old progress.
Doom-mongers and soothsayers say it will all come collapsing down around our heads, maybe, but like anything else… until that happens, the wheels on the bus will keep rolling along.
Walter Disney famously said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down the new paths”.
They say that two things are inevitable: death and taxes. But there is a third, progress (which the old and idealistic dread).
You might not agree, but disagreement never gets in the way of evolution
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