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Monday, October 28, 2013

If you charge us this much, we're not fans, AVB. We're patrons

Went to Tottenham v Hull City yesterday. A couple of tickets came up through a friend of a friend. £96 for me and my 26-year-old son to go. It was a tense affair. Tottenham didn't really deserve their 1-0 win but nor did they really look like losing.

After the match the manager complained the fans hadn't made enough noise.  I could see what he meant. But at the same time I could see that it would have taken a lot to ignite the people around me. They're middle-aged men who are faintly resentful about how much money they've paid. Once you've paid that much money, you're not so much a fan as a patron.

To make a big noise you first have to make lots of small noises. You can feel it's not going to happen with these guys. And I'm not going to start it. Nor is my son.

At half-time he told me the last game he'd been to was a Serie A game at Inter Milan. He'd been amongst the home fans. In their section the cheering and chanting had been orchestrated by a fan who had his back to the pitch and was perched on a railing high above the crowd. At half time he was replaced by another, on the grounds that nobody could keep that level of shouting going for ninety minutes.

How about that, AVB?


14 comments:

  1. In 1971 a pint of beer cost 12p and a match day ticket at White Hart Lane was 60p. So if beer was used as a (clumsy, I know) price index you'd be expecting to pay in the region of £20 to see your beloved Spurs. I wonder what Martin Chivers thinks about it all?

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  2. The cost per ticket for a Premiership football match is comparable to that of other, top-of-their-field live experiences like a major rock gig or a West End theatre performance.

    There's a difference because you don't expect to go to a major rock gig every other week - and because we still see football as "working class" and so removed from comparison with middle class entertainments. But to see a match in one of the world's leading tournaments, with some of the sport's greatest players – or even to see Spurs – it's surely reasonable to pay a comparable sum to any other major live performance?

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  3. The cost per ticket for a Premiership football match is comparable to that of other, top-of-their-field live experiences like a major rock gig or a West End theatre performance.

    There's a difference because you don't expect to go to a major rock gig every other week - and because we still see football as "working class" and so removed from comparison with middle class entertainments. But to see a match in one of the world's leading tournaments, with some of the sport's greatest players – or even to see Spurs – it's surely reasonable to pay a comparable sum to any other major live performance?

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  4. John: Seems a long while ago that Lord Justice Taylor's recommended price for seated tickets was £6.

    CJ&PK: The brilliance and bane of football is that it's unpredictable. Even a bad gig will build to a crescendo; even the worst theatre show should have a story to follow. A scratchy 0-0 (as mostly was) against Hull has its own narrative and an uncertain ending, but the well-paid performers shouldn't need geeing up to provide it.

    Because David is right: in the Premier League era, those who pay to go to football are now consumers. Once we felt a loyalty to the team and club, no matter how badly run, and would endeavour to "get behind them"; now, we're fleeced "customers", and frankly we often don't get our money's worth.

    If a plumber who couldn't do his job blamed it on the fact that we weren't stood behind him cheering his every move, he would be scorned and unemployed. Football fans don't tend to switch sides but we do increasingly refuse to go back every fortnight. That's partly because the average fan has got older, and thus has other things to do, but also because football has concentrated on consumers above fans.

    Fans who want atmosphere now tend to go to away games: the significant investment of time demanded in going away tends to exclude those who might become bored. It doesn't always work in a positive way - that lazy striker or idiotic manager will quickly hear the opinions of people who've travelled hundreds of miles to watch them - but it does feel closer to the old football.

    (Caveat: I was there for the old football, pre-Premier League. Lots of it was dire, with bonehead racists cheering homegrown dullards picked by isolationist managers in a tactically sterile league - and of course we watched from inside cages looked over by callous policemen treating us as subhuman scum. But at least it wasn't £50 a ticket.)

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  5. Before I pay £50 for a West End theatre ticket I read the reviews and decide if I think it's worth going to. There's no preview option for a football match so if I'm charged £50 I expect to be entertained. If I'm not entertained, don't complain to me about not cheering and shouting - I'm not the one who set the expectations with the 'best league in the world' malarky.

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  6. I think that problem here is hype. MOTD, Sky, the tabloids have try to create the illusion that every premier league match is/was/will be (particularly will be) fantastic and unmissable. It’s the unmissable that they’re really after.

    Having been to over 750 games over the last 50 odd years I can testify that this is rarely the case.

    I think we have lost sight of why people go to football. Principally it is social and habitual. I go to Chelsea with one of, my son, daughter, wife, and prior to being too fragile, my dad. We are picked up by one of a bunch of friends in North London and meet up with another bunch of friends for a cheap lunch at a café in the Fulham Road.

    We park near where I used to with my dad, and sometimes his cigar smoking slightly scary friends, and take the same walk to the ground that I have been making since I a small boy.

    Quite often we bump into friends and acquaintances, and in fact this week I met a really interesting old boy who used to be a VP at Chelsea and knew my son’s best friends grandfather, who was also a VP at Chelsea in the 80’s. He was there with one of our regular lunchers. It’s all about Chelsea (and North London) connections.

    After lunch and a ritual trip to Tesco to buy “lucky wine gums” I split up from my lunch companions and meet up with the guys I have sat with for the last 20 years. We barely know each other outside of Chelsea but have travelled together to, or met up in, Manchester, Milan, Wembley, Stoke, Wigan Tottenham High Rd etc. A different backgrounds , sizes, ages and ethnicities. All ask about my ageing dad and we crack familiar jokes at each other’s expense. We all love Chelsea, but most of us not as much as we used to.

    We sit near the away supporters and the banter and occasionally the bile always add to the afternoon’s entertainment. My daughter in particular loves a bit of verbal argy bargy and some terrace humour eg John Terreee, you’re a C**t , always a favourite with the away supporters.

    The game may or may not be good, but rarely reaches the depths of Chelsea v Southampton circa 1968 that my dad and I use as the benchmark for meaningless, crap games, and almost never scales the heights of the 5-all draw we saw between Chelsea and West Ham in the mid 60’s. But that’s not the point. When people have asked why I still go to Chelsea given the way the game has gone over the past decade or so and when I’m clearly not as in love with Chelsea as I was, I just reply that “that’s what I do, I go to football”. I have had times when I have been seriously in debt and had to put both my tickets on credit cards which I had no idea I could ever repay.

    So, I think there is a different experience for the casual attendee and the season ticket holder. But for me I love it! Including booing at Benitez, calling Torres ”The Girl”, repeatedly telling Ballack “You’re Rubbish”, but best of all jumping into my friend, Guy’s arms whenever we score. It’s really not just about the game. It’s a culture – funny, passionate, social, scary - and a way of life.

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  7. I think that problem here is hype. MOTD, Sky, the tabloids have try to create the illusion that every premier league match is/was/will be (particularly will be) fantastic and unmissable. It’s the unmissable that they’re really after.

    Having been to over 750 games over the last 50 odd years I can testify that this is rarely the case.

    I think we have lost sight of why people go to football. Principally it is social and habitual. I go to Chelsea with one of, my son, daughter, wife, and prior to being too fragile, my dad. We are picked up by one of a bunch of friends in North London and meet up with another bunch of friends for a cheap lunch at a café in the Fulham Road.

    We park near where I used to with my dad, and sometimes his cigar smoking slightly scary friends, and take the same walk to the ground that I have been making since I a small boy.

    Quite often we bump into friends and acquaintances, and in fact this week I met a really interesting old boy who used to be a VP at Chelsea and knew my son’s best friends grandfather, who was also a VP at Chelsea in the 80’s. He was there with one of our regular lunchers. It’s all about Chelsea (and North London) connections.

    After lunch and a ritual trip to Tesco to buy “lucky wine gums” I split up from my lunch companions and meet up with the guys I have sat with for the last 20 years. We barely know each other outside of Chelsea but have travelled together to, or met up in, Manchester, Milan, Wembley, Stoke, Wigan Tottenham High Rd etc. A different backgrounds , sizes, ages and ethnicities. All ask about my ageing dad and we crack familiar jokes at each other’s expense. We all love Chelsea, but most of us not as much as we used to.

    We sit near the away supporters and the banter and occasionally the bile always add to the afternoon’s entertainment. My daughter in particular loves a bit of verbal argy bargy and some terrace humour eg John Terreee, you’re a C**t , always a favourite with the away supporters.

    The game may or may not be good, but rarely reaches the depths of Chelsea v Southampton circa 1968 that my dad and I use as the benchmark for meaningless, crap games, and almost never scales the heights of the 5-all draw we saw between Chelsea and West Ham in the mid 60’s. But that’s not the point. When people have asked why I still go to Chelsea given the way the game has gone over the past decade or so and when I’m clearly not as in love with Chelsea as I was, I just reply that “that’s what I do, I go to football”. I have had times when I have been seriously in debt and had to put both my tickets on credit cards which I had no idea I could ever repay.

    So, I think there is a different experience for the casual attendee and the season ticket holder. But for me I love it! Including booing at Benitez, calling Torres ”The Girl”, repeatedly telling Ballack “You’re Rubbish”, but best of all jumping into my friend, Guy’s arms whenever we score. It’s really not just about the game. It’s a culture – funny, passionate, social, scary - and a way of life.

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  8. clearly a chelsea fan who's not left handed . but i digress.

    entitlement is the name of the game these day. the beginning of the end for us was when the chumps league draw was made. And then it all changed still Saying that i was there sunday and will be there tomorrow as i have been for the last 43 years bar (87-90)

    COYS

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  9. clearly a chelsea fan who's not left handed . but i digress.

    entitlement is the name of the game these day. the beginning of the end for us was when the chumps league draw was made. And then it all changed still Saying that i was there sunday and will be there tomorrow as i have been for the last 43 years bar (87-90)

    COYS

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  10. @mickyc - that 'jumping into your mate's (or indeed mates') arms when a crucial, tension bursting goal is scored' moment is just fantastic isn't it? One that particularly sticks in my mind is Rangers coming back from 2 down to draw with the Marseille of Desailly, Deschamps, Boksic, Völler et al at Ibrox in the Champions League in '92. To instigate a proper spontaneously joyous man-hug there has to be that element of shock/relief. It's why Scotland moments such as James McFadden's belter in Paris are celebrated so wildly.

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  11. I remember your posting a good while ago about the case for football clubs letting fans in for free, based on the argument that the clubs were selling 'atmosphere' to the broadcasters, and so no (or fewer, quieter) fans at the ground would mean no (or less) TV revenue. The case was good, and I remember it well. It stands now, in this debate. Given the sums the clubs earn from TV and the revenue streams TV creates via globally licensed products, the clubs really should let the local fans in for free. They could then claim a right to have a go at them if they don't pull make the right noise at the right volume. They could even install sensors.

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  12. If they let local fans in Old Trafford would be empty.

    (yes, I know that's a myth but couldn't resist)

    They should do away with the ridiculous ceremony before every game these days. Players marching out with mascots (one each!), ref picking the ball up off a fucking plinth like it's magical orb, teams lined up for photos, handshakes and all that bollocks. It's inane, not every game is the FA Cup Final.

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  13. Interesting to hear that Inter Milan have orchestrated chanting.

    I've been to a couple of MLS games in Chicago, where they have the same deal: a rotation of people lead a sing song from a podium with their back to the pitch.

    I always imagined it came from a corporate exercise to enhance the MLS consumer experience.

    But since it is happening in Italy I wonder if that's not the case. Is there a history to this kind of thing?

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  14. LEH: Yes, frankly. I have been to the Fire games of which you speak - a fine example - but such "cheerleaders" exist in a lot of football cultures across Europe. I believe the Chicagoans inherited it from their Polish fanbase, for instance.

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