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Football without Fans…
I’ve been watching with interest what has happened up at Liverpool with the protests held by the Spirit of Shankly group against ticket price increases. Fans are claiming victory after the Liverpool board have confirmed prices will now be frozen for the next two years.
The Football Supporters Association (FSF) claimed the u-turn made by the Liverpool board was a “game-changer” and a “significant success” for the fans groups involved in the protest as prices will now not go up to £77 next season.
The protest is part of a wider movement among fans with the central theme “football without fans is nothing” – making the point that although football is a valuable commodity when sold for TV rights, part of the package that is bought is the crowd noise and atmosphere. Who wants to watch televised football in a sterile, cold and empty stadium?
While it is pleasing to see small victories like the one above I have to admit I don’t believe football clubs and fans are working together any more than they used to. Indeed, I think many fans act more like customers now buying a product than actually being part of a bigger entity; the apathy shown to the neverending saga that has been Blues ownership woes is testament to that.
Part of me thinks that is sad because inaction and apathy across the board in football has allowed clubs to impose on fans more and more the way they want to do things and in consequence fans have acted more and more as customers. I get the feeling that the sense of entitlement I see from many fans in football is more related to people demanding something from a product than they have bought than as a by-product of expectation and commitment.
However, I have to be honest and say I can easily see forcing change in football isn’t a priority either. We all have our own lives, our own work and our own families to worry about without thinking about trying to make football a better sport. I know this as well as anyone else – I run this site as a hobby around my work and family commitments and as much as I’d like to do more it’s not as high priority as the more life and death things are.
I know some people might think that football has been taken away from the average fan but I think the truth is we gave it away. When we paid Sky to watch football on tv, stumped up more as they built up more and more coverage of more and more games we (as a whole) created this monster that the TV rights now are. I think it’s important in all these protests to understand that money controls football, and money in the main comes in from TV rights.
It’s very hard for clubs to resist Sky when they want to move a game – when FC United of Manchester tried they were told in no uncertain terms they had no choice in the matter – and thus I have to say I think for all the boycotts of grounds, the scarves and banners the only way to truly get football back is to not to pay to watch it on TV. Unfortunately, this is even less likely to happen than walkouts in the game so in some ways we have to deal with the monster we created.