Over the past few months, without real explanation, my personal levels of enthusiasm for the beautiful game has somewhat waned.
It’s surprising, considering that 2012 was such a good year for my club West Ham. Winning the championship play off final at Wembley and then doing reasonably well in the Premier League, you’d think that I’d be enjoying my football as much as ever – but strangely no.
And I think I’ve finally figured out why – English clubs (mostly those in the Premier League) now openly and without a second thought consistently take the piss out of their supporters, and it’s now clearer than ever that clubs are only interested in how much revenue they make.
We’ve seen this recently with ticket prices, when Man City supporters were charged £62 each to watch their team at the Emirates. Arsenal are by no means the only culprits of this – I was considering going to Chelsea v West Ham at the Bridge next month, but at £55 i’ll give it a miss. The problem is that a lot of fans won’t. They are loyal to their teams and will pay whatever the clubs charge in order to get their fix. Something the club’s know only too well and openly exploit.
Also this week, West Ham’s chief executive Karren Brady came out in her weekly Sun column and stated that she wouldn’t hesitate to re-sign Frank Lampard to the club if he was available. I personally don’t have a problem with Frank and without a doubt he would improve the current West Ham team, but most fans would rather Paul Ince came back than Frank. Surely Brady should know this?
But by far the most galling example of this has emerged from Arsenal this morning. Just two days after Arsenal were beaten 1-0 at the Emirates by Blackburn in the FA Cup, it’s reported that Arsene Wenger is to be offered a 2 year extension to his current contract.
While, I’m not questioning the merits of Arsene Wenger as a manager, the timing of this announcement must be a huge slap in the face to every Gooner in the land. After nearly 8 years without a trophy, it’s pretty much confirmed that all the Arsenal board are concerned with is making a healthy profit year after year.
All football fans crave success through trophies, and for years Arsenal fans have paid the highest amount for tickets of any club to build a successful team and move to a world class stadium. But what are they paying the premium for now?
For the last reported financial year, Arsenal made a pre-tax profit of £36.6m – and sadly that has become the ultimate measure of success for Wenger – not how many trophies he wins.
It’s already not an uncommon site to see swathes of empty seats at the Emirates, and if Arsenal finish outside the top 4 – there is surely no justification for the premium ticket prices that Arsenal charge?
Arsenal, like many other clubs, are playing a cocky and dangerous game with their supporters. They know that football isn’t like any other market – supporters can’t just up and choose a competitor brand if they’re not happy with the service.
And it’s the fact that the club’s know this and continue to increase prices, despite revenue being at an all time that is draining my enthusiasm for the game. Anyone else agree?