Thursday, 18 October 2012

The Cost of Loyalty

No longer does supporting your pre-determined football club entail only emotional and psychological dedication; it requires a hefty bank account, also. The annual BBC Price of Football survey, published earlier today, highlights an 11.7% increase in the price of an adult matchday experience over the past twelve months. This shows again the true extent of the games fall from grace. Loyalty costs, in this modern epoch.

The price of watching a game at The Emirates Stadium can be ridiculous. Arsenal, the most expensive team to watch in the entire nation, have set certain tickets in the highest brackets at an eye-popping £126; an amount of money that would leave you only just sort of an entire season ticket at Hartlepool United! This paradox is absurd. In both scenarios, this is football; the prices should not fluctuate so wildly between the levels of the professional game.

This rampant inflation of matchday prices is not exclusive to the upper echelon of the Premier League. Fulham, by all accounts a middling outfit at best, have the most expensive Programme and most expensive pie in the Division, as well as a ticket bracket prescribing £75 for an hour-and-a-half of entertainment. The prominence of Sky television has lulled Premier League clubs into a false bubble of fantasy economics. Prying on those dedicated souls who will pay whatever, whenever, just to watch their team, clubs take fans for granted more so than at any other point in footballing history.

The German Bundesliga, most closely compared with the Premier League in pointless debates on 'the world's greatest league,' has much more civil and acceptable pricing. How can it be that, when converted, it is eminently possibly that one could spend more money standing on the terraces of Accrington Stanley (£17.00) than on the terraces of Borussia Dortmund (£12.30)? This is just implausible. The extreme financial and media domination of the runaway Premier League means that many lower league clubs are purged of their fan base and, therefore, are forced to drive their own prices up to merely stay alive. The hardcore fans feel the full burden of the Premier League's ignorant quest for capitalist gain.

But what can now be done? Trying to rectify the current financial state of British football is about as futile as attempting to repair a bicycle after it has been in a hefty collision with a bus. In essence, it is pointless. The Premier League's failure to even acknowledge lower league clubs, apart from when selecting and picking the best academy products like apples on a tree, initiates a false economy. In this financial context, it is difficult to see how the English game, in its storied and beautiful four-tiered professional guise, can survive for much longer.

The appetite of football fans will never change. The citizens of towns and cities dotted all over the nation would love nothing better than to go out and support their team. In this day and age, however, when Coalition-ordained austerity bites at the very fabric of society, sometimes there are more urgent things on which to spend £126.

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