Rising costs of football...
Some of you may have seen the report on the rising costs of football on BBC Breakfast this morning? This report came live from Fratton Park as we featured heavily in this.
I love Portsmouth Football Club, so I am not aiming this 'rant', if you will, specifically at them it is aimed at football as a whole, it is just easy to use us as an example as we have featured so prominently in the findings - but towards the end of what I write you will see that in all fairness to Pompey these 'increases' are not necessarily as high for us as 'findings' might be suggesting...
Basically despite the extra millions, billions even being ploughed into the game through advertising and in particular TV revenues the vast majority of premier league clubs will be showing an increase in season ticket prices next season, with an average rise of 8%. Some a huge increase, others not so big, but still an increase - with Pompey being one of the clubs that will be showing the biggest increase in a percentage rise...
At Sunderland there has been an increase of 22%, but tickets will still only cost £445 and in all fairness their prices are still 'low' and will increase from a championship amount. Ours are up 17.5% to a whopping £705 - if not purchased at the 'early bird' price, which the London clubs aside makes us one of the most expensive clubs to watch in the country!
Chelski will be having no increase in their season tickets prices, with the most expensive staying at £790, Manyoo will be showing a 6% increase, with this setting you back £665, Arsenal are up only 2.6% - I do not know what the price will be though.
Someone the other day, who works for the football supporters federation - so spends their time fighting for the rights of the fans - sent me some information on the TV revenue generated for each club through the 2007/08 season, which compared the 2006/07 figures (in brackets) - here it is:
Manchester United £49.3m (£32m)
Chelsea £45.6m (£30.9m)
Arsenal £47m (£29m)
Liverpool £45.4m (£28.4m)
Everton £42.1m (£25.3m)
Aston Villa £42.3m (£22m)
Blackburn Rovers £40.2m (£22m)
Portsmouth £40.4m (£23m)
Manchester City £39.7m (£21m)
West Ham United £36.8m (£21.1m)
Tottenham Hotspur £36m (£27.3m)
Newcastle United £39.2m (£21.2m)
Middlesbrough £34.2m (£20.5m)
Wigan Athletic £33.4m (£18.4m)
Sunderland £33.6m (£6.5m)
Bolton Wanderers £32m (£24.6m)
Fulham £31.3m (£20.4m)
Reading £30.6m (£23.6m)
Birmingham City £29.8m (£6.5m)
Derby County £29.1m (n/a)
Total - £815,175,812 (£502,533,570)
Getting on for £1billion in TV money was 'shared' between the clubs, and this is putting aside other sponsorship deals for each club, which gives each an estimated extra £1m per year, not forgetting the money that is earned through 'winning trophies', Manyoo got £2m plus for winning the champions league and we got £1m for winning the FA cup.
When the prices for next seasons season tickets were revealed the club did say that this increase was required to offset other costs, this increase was minimal when you take into account you could use 'early bird' pricing and this was the first increase in 3 years - a statement read out by the reporter on BBC Breakfast said the same.
It is a very difficult one, I want to see Fratton full week in week out and having seen 200,000 people turn out for the victory parade the other week I would be bitterly disappointed if we could not see this, no matter who we are playing, but when all is said and done, no matter what anyone says football is an experience form of pleasure these days and is something that not all of us can afford.
Can I really afford the costs of my season ticket, and the costs of travelling? Which for me personally 'could' cost up to as much as the cost of my season ticket! I will not lie, it is going to be tough under my current circumstances, but as much as I wanted this season ticket back after a number years without one, had it cost me much more I think I would have had to have been realistic and said 'no'. But when all is said and done is paying what I am something that I am willing to do? Well yep as I have, so it is, but a line will have to be drawn somewhere - hopefully I will not ever have to cross that bridge again as I never want to have to make 'that' decision...
Is the 'everyday hardcore fan' being priced out of football at Pompey - and elsewhere - these days to be replaced by 'a new breed' of clientele? Will this happen even more the more successful we become - is this the price of success, if so how much longer will people be willing or able to keep paying it?
'If' we get our new stadium, with a larger capacity, which 'should' in theory increase the average attendance would we then see a decrease in prices, or would they have to remain the same anyway to 'help' cover the costs of paying the players wages etc?
When all is said and done, as much as I love Portsmouth Football Club and football, the fans - all fans, not just Pompey fans I MUST add and stress - are, for lack of a better word, being ripped off... Watching football throughout Europe is much cheaper than it is in this country, but with the amount of money within football rising all the time, meaning transfer fees and wages for players increase it is the fans that will have to pay it and if the club is successful - as hopefully we will be - if you or I do not pay it, the simple truth is there is always going to be someone else out there who will...
Basically the money in football is what is driving these prices sky high, the more 'the rich have' the more they can afford to pay for players, the more they pay the more others - like us - have to pay for them also, merely to basically stay afloat, let alone attempt to make in roads into catching them. The rising transfer fees and wages that are needed is what is causing this rise, until something changes within these rules and boundaries - which sadly is not likely to happen is it, as the middleman will enjoy his slice of the pie too much - then ticket prices will remain high, if not get higher in order to help offset these costs.
With the credit crunch hitting hard - and trust me I know from personal experience how damaging this is as it has put what I thought and hoped would be a fantastic career opportunity in jeopardy, now all I can now do is sit and hope things change! - it is going to become even harder for fans to afford to make the commitment, sacrifices will need to be made, but will 'no longer going to football' be the one that is made though?
To defend Pompey, in all fairness the actual 17.5% increase quoted is not an entirely fair refection - of course we must remember that by using the 'early bird' prices you could have saved money, and these were offered to everyone, new season ticket applicants and those that renewed. Also by taking advantage of the payment plans on offer from the club you can spread the costs of paying for your season ticket, so credit must be given on this front - but not everyone would have done this, but I guess you can have the argument here that you had enough time to have done this, and although expensive if you 'really' wanted a season ticket for next season you would have got one when you had the 'early bird' chance wouldn't you?
As said though, so long as any club is successful if one breed of fan stops going, usually the best breed, another, and not always the right kind of breed will step in to take your place so price increases, no matter how large - even if sometimes deceptive - will not make much difference...
PLAY UP POMPEY!