The Premier League may well be home to some of the world’s best footballers, but the majority of the public can’t afford to watch top tier football in their own country.
Vincent Kompany, in a recent interview with BBC Radio 5, pleaded for ticket prices to be reduced as players treasure home advantage and the atmosphere benefits sales to television companies.
The Belgian international may have a point, but television rights have little or nothing to do with atmosphere as digital sound effects can easily enhance the audio experience for consumers. Sky, BT and a host of worldwide companies pay billions because they know people will watch it, without fail.
Ironically, the television money in the Premier League is the only reason that foreign investment landed here in the first place. Make no mistake, there’s no good will in these oligarchs, sheikhs and tycoons. They’re here for a profit, and if ticket prices drop, the exclusivity and lure of the league itself will fall drastically.
Of course, the main reason that ticket prices can remain so high, is simply because people will pay the cost. The second you have half-empty stadiums on Match of the Day, clubs will be forced to lower rates.
Yet, while the adage ‘football without fans is nothing’ is nice sentiment, the money that sponsorship provides for clubs is astounding, and the fans become less and less relevant as the years go by.
Old Trafford, outside the Stretford End, is a large steel-laden open-air tourist exhibition. Anfield, away from the Kop, hosts countless different nationalities who aren’t completely versed in every tradition. Naturally, there’ll be a drop-off in intensity.
If you’re living just off Priory Road all your life, there’s a very real chance that you’re unable to afford a season ticket at Anfield, because day-trippers flock into your hometown and pay extortionate rates to watch your local team.
There’s no morally binding agreement that says you should support your local team, but when football clubs turn into brands, they often fail to represent the values long associated with the areas they’re founded in. It’s great for a city financially, but yet again, to seek out positives, we turn to commercial reasoning and not football logic.
People who are passionate about football clubs are usually the ones that have been going for years. By increasing ticket prices beyond all reasonable levels, you’re potentially isolating those who understand the historical relevance of the clubs in question.
Rivalries between Manchester United and Liverpool lived long before Sky. The games were equally as intense, and success enhanced them. That level of success doesn’t increase alongside the money it takes to achieve it.
This is the upper end of the top tier.
Some clubs have combatted inflation, and some have embraced it. There’s no point even mentioning Arsenal, as anyone willing to pay nearly one hundred British pounds to watch a game of football needs their head examined.
Clubs are worth billions because of their assets. Assets include the players they buy. Their worth isn’t directly tied into the potential revenue they can create on a football pitch. It’s the potential sponsorship opportunities, the marketing ease and the fact that everyone around the world will spend the equivalent of sixty pounds on the same rehash of a kit with that player’s name on it.
The reason grounds have been robbed of atmosphere, is because grounds have been robbed of people who attended football and understand the culture associated with it. For hundreds of millions, attending a live game in the Premier League is just the next level of high definition broadcast.