Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Balancing acts

Football used to be the sport that working men (and some women) went to watch at the weekend, well until the so called "Sky" revolution which pushed the price of tickets into levels only the well off or the most fanatical were prepared to pay. Also the number of matches increased in order to generate the revenue that a big club needed to pay its way with massive transfer fees and sky high stadium costs with all seater stadia now a requirement in the professional game. Sooner or later though the bubble was bound to burst...
FORGET signing Sergio Aguero for less than £40million – the biggest battle most football chairmen seem to be facing this summer is whether they can lure Joe Bloggs to their ground for more than a tenner.
Year after year, the current economic climate appears to have little effect on the frenzied activity of moving players around a world that seems to have little grounding in the lives of the people who pay their wages.
But a new survey by the BBC has looked at precisely that – and discovered that, while football’s bubble may not be bursting, it is certainly deflating as supporters are being forced to tighten their belts.
The Premier League gravy train has ridden along for some time under the steam of season-ticket holders who fill stadia week-in, week-out to justify the pricing policies of the country’s elite clubs.
Nowhere is that problem felt more keenly than in the North-west, where last season Blackpool, Bolton, Blackburn and Wigan were all fighting for support with more famous neighbours Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Everton – all within the traditional boundaries of what used to be known as Lancashire.
As a result, Blackburn feel the need to offer tickets to games for just £10 – a move echoed throughout the divisions this season by Watford, Rochdale, Preston, MK Dons, Rotherham, Torquay and Plymouth.
The war on cost that football is needing to wage to compete with other distractions is best illustrated by considering how much people are prepared to pay from their diminishing disposable incomes on other pursuits.
The big clubs so far are managing, though at the bottom end it seems you either have to have a billionaire chairman or even if you get lucky and make it too the top you won't be able to afford to stay their, not without pricing your fans out of the stadium. Football used to be quite affordable once, yet the last match I attended over 10 years ago cost £25 and there's no way I could afford to pay that week in week out and if my sons or daughters wanted to come along as well, forget it, no way could I afford that. Yet in the 70's and 80's my Dad did just that for me and my brother and we still had the money to go out on the beer at the weekends. These days I can't even afford Sky sports to watch any match I have to rely on Match of the Day for the occasional highlights or if I'm lucky an FA cup appearance on BBC or ITV. 
So long as people could afford to pay and fill the stadia that was ok, I found other interests, but now it seems that the money tree is finally starting to dry up at the roots and it can't be too long before it hits those at the very top.
Classic case of market forces, make something too expensive and people will move on to something they can afford. Took some time with football, but it was inevitable.

0 annotations: