“For too long certain people have been trying to hijack football clubs in order to exploit fans financially or as part of larger more immoral scheme”
We all love our football clubs but do they love us? So often people all over the world will spend a large portion of their pay packet on season tickets, club merchandise and various other football related costs.
On average, using the cheapest adult option at every Premier League club a season ticket will set you back £503. That works out at £26 a game without all the regular external costs. West Ham United come in with the lowest season ticket price at £320. If you wish to be a loyal Arsenal fan, a spot in The Emirates cheap seats will total at £895.
In reality there should be no surprise that football owners are looking to exploit people for profit. This is how we ended up with professional football. Factory owners begun to pay workers to play football to avoid giving them their government mandated Saturday off.
If you were to look through the list of Premier League owners you would come across plenty of ruthless and tough business men and women. People who know how to take a business and run it at an extreme profit. Owning a football club can be a different situation though, some own one and view it as a business venture and nothing more, some use it as almost a toy like a fancy car to show off to their friends, some as a tool to distract from their behaviour away from sport and for some it is the culmination of all their life’s work and the fulfilling of a childhood dream owning their hometown club.
Now regardless of why a business person wishes to purchase a football club, we all hope they will have the best interest’s of the fans, club and the game as a whole at heart. Sadly this is not the case with many investors. Looking strictly at English football we see a wide range of people involved at ownership level in The Premier League, from Sheikh Mansoor a member of the UAE royal family to American business tycoons The Glazer family to professional gambler and property developer Tony Bloom. With the latter being a lifelong fan who saved his club Brighton and Hove Albion from extinction.
Now as evidenced by the ludicrous £14.95 PPV price being charged to fans to watch games that were not previously included in the broadcasters schedules it is clear that football is driven by one thing and one thing only money. 19 out of 20 Premier League clubs voted in favour of this charge (Leicester City the exception) with no allowances being made to season ticket holders or club members. With some clubs even continuing to take season ticket payments even though it looks unlikely we will see crowds of any sort in grounds for the remainder of this season.
Across the height of this pandemic certain Premier League football clubs attempted to place their staff on the UK governments furlough scheme. Champions Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur who generated profits of £42 million and £113 million respectively. Both clubs bowed to fan pressure eventually but that these clubs thought it to be acceptable to even attempt this was absolutely despicable. Arsenal football club this year announced they were making 55 staff redundant due to financial issues caused by Covid but exactly 2 months after that announcement was made they found a spare €50 million between the couch cushions to sign Ghanian international Thomas Partey.
Now in a time in which Marcus Rashford is taking on the Conservative Government almost single-handedly over the issue of food poverty it would be wrong to tar all of football with the one brush. It is the people at board level and above that I believe suffer from a tin ear especially in times like this.
Now so far I’ve only referenced the taking advantage of football supporters and people on a financial level but in the case of the Manchester City owners “The City Group” spearheaded by Sheikh Mansoor and the would be owners of Newcastle United The Saudi Royal family we really are reaching into the underbelly of society as a whole not just on a sporting level. These two groups have large and undeniably links to places with massive human rights violations, owning a football club for them is a way of distracting people from the atrocities committed in their home countries, a process known as “Sportswashing”.
Football is at a crossroads and it is one with irreversible consequences. If it decides to allow The Saudi Royal Family take over Newcastle United then I believe it is basically a shrug of the shoulders and twiddling of the thumbs from FIFA, UEFA and all the other organisations towards the rest of the world that says, “We don’t care who you are so long as you have money.”
That isn’t football that’s never been football. Now maybe I’m a naive romantic shouting up at the sky but I believe that football is yet to pass the point of no return, it can turn back but does it want to? I don’t think the powers that be really care about the morals of the game. When you see the now former Chairman of the Premier League Richard Scudamore taking home over £10 million in his final year of “service” in 2019 it makes you wonder does he or anyone else that high up even consider or know what the game is about at all.
In one sense football has never been healthier, there has never been as much money in the game, there has never been as many people watching or playing ( pre-pandemic) but as far as I’m concerned football is need of a dramatic shake-up or the game we once knew will be consigned to the ashes once and for all.