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Opinion

Premier League – Can we have our game back please?

1 month ago
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Football without fans is nothing. Can someone please post that on the side of the Premier League office.

The football fan experience in the UK, never mind Newcastle United, is at an all-time low.

I recently had a read over MP Tracey Crouch’s ‘fan led’ review of football governance – which in actual truth is a 7-page letter to Oliver Dowden saying almost nothing about the fan experience in the UK.

In truth, if NUFC weren’t going through the takeover, and involved so heavily in the Premier league’s O and D test, then it wouldn’t be of any relevance at all to Newcastle fans.

There is no mention of the real issues affecting football fans, I mean, what do you expect from a fan-led review that isn’t actually led by football fans but a politician who recently called for football fans to ‘stop shouting at her’ simply for airing their opinion on social media (can you even shout on social media?).

Can we please get to the real issues Tracey?

Ask most fans, especially those in the far south or far north, and they’ll tell you that the timings of football fixtures places zero thought for football fans. Quite incredible when you think about it. Friday nights, Saturday nights, Monday nights, 12am on a Sunday. How are fans expected to travel to these games? How are they expected to get back? There is often no train, which means you have to pay for a hotel or take an afternoon/day off work… OR both.

How is that fair? Why isn’t that an issue brought up by the fan-led review? Laughable that Sky and the Premier League claimed to be on the side of fans during the recent Super League debacle when all they care about is themselves.

Likewise, the dates of fixtures, not just the times. Newcastle United play AWAY to Southampton on New Year’s Day. The longest trip in the whole of the Premier League, chosen on a day when trains and public services barely run. Why? Why could they not play this fixture on ANY other day of the year? You have to wonder if the PL have gone out of their way to spite fans… or are they just plain stupid? I can’t think of two other explanations.

Again, Tracey Crouch, can you explain this or ask for answers in your fan-led review?

Let’s just say, even if you can get to the game. Can you afford it? Ticket prices are a disgrace, especially in comparison with our European neighbours. No longer do we aim to make things cheaper for football fans, even though football remains unaffordable. Football clubs now believe that ‘freezing’ already extortionate prices is some way of ‘giving back’ to fans. It’s sickening, and once again, there is very little mention of it in parliament or in the media.

Funny how all of these politicians were happy to jump on the football bandwagon during the Euros but where are they the rest of the time for football fans? Where is the Premier League? Who is acting in the interests of fans?

Another one, shirt prices. Not only is the quality and design of football shirts becoming worse and more boring year after year… their price have also gone through the roof and are unaffordable for the average fan. Why?

Football shirts have gone from being a symbol/representation of your own region/area to a simple marketing ploy for clubs to rip more money out of fans. Should someone step in to regulate the prices of shirts? Should clubs have 3-5 kits per season? Why else would a club have 3-5 kits? Only to milk their fans as much as possible.

So let’s just take a step back for a moment and think about what is the minimum cost of supporting your football club per season?

If we make a few assumptions along the way:

Let’s say the average season ticket price is £750

Let’s say you buy your new home shirt, which is now £65

Let’s say you go to every away game, with an average of £30 per games, so 19 x 30 which is £570 just for your away tickets.

Then there is your travel:

Let’s say your travel for home games is £10. 19 x 10 = £190.

Travel for away games? Christ where do you start? If you support Newcastle, then you’re looking at an average of £60 a game. 60 x 19 = £1140

Then there is matchday spending:

Let’s say you buy a few pints which is £20

Let’s say you want to eat your lunch/dinner £10.

So £30 x 38 games = £1,140.

Now let’s add this up – by the time you have bought your season ticket (£750), your home shirt (£65), your away tickets (£570), you have got your home travel (£190), away travel (£1,140) – then you have fed yourself, and had a drink at each game (£1,140) we come to a grand total of:

£3,855 as a bare minimum per season to watch your football team play.

That doesn’t include:

Hotels

Peak train times

Your second meal of the day

Late night and early morning taxis

Cup games (League Cup, FA Cup, plus European games!)

OH! What if you want to take your son/daughter? Then you are looking at £7,000.

So, for someone on the UK average salary of £30,000 (in the north east the average is £26,000) and their son/daughter, it costs around £7000 per year to go to the football. So going to the football on a Saturday afternoon, at a bare minimum, costs 23.3% of the average salary (before tax as well).

How is it fair? Where is the logic? Who is standing up for the average football fan? How can the Premier League, FA, and Tracey Crouch’s ‘fan led’ review choose to ignore this?

Moving away from money for a second… what about non-monetary issues for football fans like safe standing, fan zones, LGBT issues, the second class treatment of football fans by police and authorities?

What about issues during the game – VAR, yellow cards for celebrating with fans, the standard of refereeing, the play-acting of overpaid prima donnas on the field?

What about after the game? The scandalous slamming of good honest fans on TalkSport, fake transfer rumours and the ‘big six’ agenda of tv companies that neglect issues impacting the whole football pyramid from Newcastle, to Bury, to Bolton. The local media which spam and take advantage of fans blind faith with clickbait, shoddy advertising and ‘5 things we have learned’. Even ‘our own’ have turned their back on us, with embarrassing ‘Fan TV’ channels on YouTube, in which fans have become used to support their claim to fame. Hey, I didn’t even mention pundits who now do the bidding of private companies live on TV, to scowl and look down at football fans in front of live audiences of… football fans.

Perhaps this should have been looked at in the ‘fan-led’ review of football?

So thanks Richard Masters, the Premier League, the FA, Sky, Sky Sports… you have taken everything beautiful about the beautiful game and ripped the heart out of it just to grow your own corporate business model.

FA Cup semis at Wembley? Members and corporate tickets? Immoral, invisible and illegal owners? Racism? Betting sponsors?

What about the fans?!

So, I ask the Premier League, FA, UEFA, FIFA – f.ck the super league, don’t you dare use that as a vehicle to do the bidding for football – seriously, at what point do you start to care about football supporters?

Tracey Crouch – there’s your ‘fan-led’ review.

(ED: Jonathan is standing for the NUST board elections, members have until noon on Friday to cast your votes. So if you haven’t voted already, please consider including him as one of your votes)

You can follow Jonathan on Twitter @JonathanComyn

(To join 13,000+ other fans as members of the Newcastle United Supporters Trust go HERE)

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