It’s always at this time of year when a football fan’s best kept secret is revealed.
As soon as an AGM is held, or financial results are published, or the latest shenanigans at FIFA are revealed, the same feeling is expressed by the vast majority of fans; Apathy.
Football fans don’t care about football.
Of course, it never sounds like apathy.
Whenever an international fixture break comes along on the calendar, it’s very easy to find something to fill the void that not having Arsenal games to look forward to creates. Anything that fills the time is given the same treatment as an actual fixture would get, hours and hours of analysing and over-analyzing data whilst dismissing every result that doesn’t fit with our own viewpoint.
All fans do this.
To paraphrase a cliché, it’s never about the size of your club’s financial results, it’s what you do with them that counts. Some prefer the length of the list of broadcasting partners, others enjoy the breadth of the marketing reach more. Most of us just use it to beat people over the head with, and proclaim ‘MINE IS BIGGER THAN YOURS‘, until another club produces a bigger one and then we claim ours wasn’t as big only because it was cold that day……or something like that.
It’s the same with AGM’s.
For the most part, questions are asked not in an attempt to get a response from the board, but are used as a gateway into conveying their own opinion on the question they just asked. The questions that do matter, i.e why is Stan Kroenke taking £3m out of the club for ‘services rendered’, are never answered fully, primarily because it’s not a good idea for an club’s owner to tell the fan base that his mortgage needs paying, even though the only reason Kroenke bought Arsenal was to ensure his mortgage never needed paying.
We fans love a good bluster, a chance to vent our spleens and give our opinion on everything in the world of football. But when it comes to actually doing something about the same issues we spend all our time arguing about, the most common reaction is a simple shrug of the shoulders and to say nothing. We don’t want the running of football to get in the way of the football we love.
That’s why, despite all of their best efforts, the Twenty’s Plenty campaign is doomed from the start. Yes, £20 is more than reasonable for a football game, and yes, more should be done to prevent the game from being beyond the reach of the working-class areas that made the game popular in the first place. But it’s not the clubs’ fault that ticket prices are so high. The simple mechanics of supply and demand will always ensure that ticket prices are at a level that the market dictates as fair, and as long as there is a waiting list for the ‘most expensive season ticket in Britain’, prices won’t come down.
Even protests against ticket prices won’t work, because the fans who buy tickets care too much about going to the games that they’re not willing to boycott them to make a point. Exhibit A: Bayern Munich. Their away supporters are going to boycott the game at the Emirates next week to make a point over how bad they think the ticket price issue is. They’re going to stay in the concourses for…….
Editor – Sorry to interrupt, but Bayern’s fans are protesting against paying too much to watch their team play?
Me – Erm, yeah.
Editor – In the stadium?
Me – Yes.
Editor – So to make a point about not wanting to pay excessive prices for tickets, they’ve decided that the best time to voice their opinion is during a game which they’ve paid so much to see?
Me – Yes.
Editor – Seems a bit backwards to me. Surely not paying in the first place would have been a better boycott. Still, at least the visuals of an empty away end for a whole game will be pretty powerful.
Me – They’re not boycotting the whole game…………
Editor – Oh come on. How long are they staying in the concourse then? At least for the first half, surely?
Me – ………
Editor – 30 minutes?
Me – ………
Editor – 20??
Me – ………
Editor – 10?!?!
Me – Five.
Editor – Jesus. So they want to protest, but not protest too much because they’re worried it might negatively affect the team and then lose?
Me – Bingo.
Editor – Jesus wept. Carry on.
It’s all well and good protesting about how we want tickets to cost less, but until we tackle the issue behind high ticket prices , we’ll be stuck behind banners that rhyme forever. The only reason football costs so much to watch, is because we want our club to be bigger and better than everyone else, and we don’t care how that comes about.
If we wanted to have cheaper tickets for all, then we’d put a cap on the amount of money a club can spend during a year. Not a fluid cap like FFP, either. A fixed, non-negotiable cap, and not set at the level that the likes of Barcelona operate at, but at the level Bournemouth operate at now. Without the need for mega bucks revenue streams in order to keep up with everybody else, the need for high ticket prices would evaporate in an instant.
The problem with sporting equality, however, is that everyone has it, and in football, the most appealing aspect of following a club is its uniqueness and its individuality. In essence, it boils down to the following question; Are you, as an Arsenal fan, willing to give up the significant financial and competitive advantage that you have built up over the last decade, over all but six or seven clubs in the whole of world football, just in order to save yourself some money?
No fan will ever agree to having their club neutered in order for personal gain. On the flip side of this argument, no fan will ever agree to not having the chance to become bigger than everyone else, for the same reasons that the Unites States has low tax rates for millionaires, because everyone thinks that one day they’ll be a millionaire and they don’t want to be taxed.
Football fans are being milked for every penny possible, and until we decide that enough is enough, it’ll always be that way.
But football’s dirty little secret is that fans will never have enough, and we like it that way.