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Is Greed In A Crisis Finally Turning The Fans Away
Friday, 18th Sep 2020 08:18

Throughout history football has always gone through a boom or bust period, but the current Covid 19 Pandemic could trigger the worst crisis it has known, with fans becoming disillusioned with the greed in the game.

Speaking to many friends both locally and across the country, I am seeing a large number not renewing season tickets and quite happy to turn their back on the game, even those who have stayed loyal and bought season tickets for a season that they do not have a clue if and when they will get in to actually see a game are disillusioned with the way that some clubs and the game in general is still consumed by greed.

In a week when at one end of the scale Macclesfield Town where wound up for debts a little over half a million were forced into liquidation, whilst at the other end Tottenham Hotspur who only a couple of months ago where pleading poverty and who went cap in hand to the Bank Of England for a £175 million loan to cover running costs from the government’s Covid corporate financing facility lending scheme, which has provided them with the unsecured loan. It is repayable in full next April at a rate of 0.5%, which is low in commercial terms, although Spurs could redraw it for another year.

Back in June they said they were “not going to spend rivers of money” in the next transfer window, whenever that opens, and the bank loan will not be used for new players – rather to provide flexibility and support during what will be a hugely testing time."

Yet here they are only weeks later on the verge of a deal to sign Gareth Bale a player who is report ably on weekly wage of half a million and who could have paid off Macclesfield's debt from less than two weeks wages.

Spurs will not be paying his full wages, but they are said to be paying around £20 million over the next 8 months in wages and loan fees.

Likewise in a move that will annoy Saints fans, after pleading poverty in signing Pierre Emile Hojbjerg they are suddenly trying to buy Danny Ings, this would cost them somewhere in the region of £40 million plus.

So why are Spurs suddenly willing to risk Government money, tax payers money to be precise, a debt which being unsecured would be hard to get back on some cosmetic signings that if made will have no great resale value in the case of Ings due to his age.

The answer is pure greed and desperation to be seen as a big club, they and others like them can't seem to see the current situation for what it is, that it is about survival at present not extravagance.

As unemployment rises so does the anger of football fans when they see spending like this.

I am finding that many fans are turning their backs on football, not being able to go to games has made it easier, many are getting out of the habit of going and it will be very easy to stay away once fans are allowed to return.

Clubs like Spurs believe that the money is not in the regular match going supporter but in football tourism, big TV revenues and also foreign supporters with money to burn who want to see a Premier League game.

But the attraction of the worldwide TV audience is not just the football, but the razzmatazz surrounding the Premier League, that means full stadiums and once the empty seats start to appear, the product is not so appealing, but La Liga ot the Bundesliga might well be.

So football is finally being consumed by it's greed and that will in turn destroy the game that we love and more sadly the culture surrounding it.

My experience is that Saints supporters and indeed some of other clubs who have been season ticket holders for years, decades even, have finally had enough, they are sick to death of the greed in the game and the type of fan who is attracted, social media is full of Spurs fans who have probably never seen their team play live but are salivating at the club spending money it didn't have and it borrowed on expensive trophy signings.

Most football fans are suffering some form of hardship, if it is not financial, there is still the worry of losing jobs and not being able to see friends and family, they are loyal to their clubs until they feel they are being exploited and milked for every penny they have, that time sadly seems to be here now.

But the tale of Macclesfield should ring a few alarm bells, on the list of creditors was HMRC for £188k they and indeed any Government department, do not stand on sentiment, the £175 million needs to be paid next summer, it can be deferred for a year, but then it has to be paid, if it isn't then the high court beckons, Spurs are taking a big gamble and they are not alone, I see other clubs doing likewise, Tottenham are just the club in the news at the moment so the most relevant.

Football clubs and the authorities need to start to look at the sustainability of the game rather than just the tip of the iceberg, if they don't then plenty more clubs will go to the wall both big and small and although the Premier League is at the top of the pyramid, any building needs strong foundations at the bottom, when those start to crumble the whole house can come crashing down.

Photo: Action Images

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wessexman added 08:55 - Sep 18
I have had a season ticket at Southampton FC for years. I am also an avid Poole Town FC supporter and bought a season ticket for £ 130 for 20 home games. This equates to £6.50 a game. IF Saints sell Ings to Spurs, I intend to send my season ticket back to the club and demand my money back. What Spurs are doing may not be illegal but it is immoral.

EvertonSaint added 09:04 - Sep 18
Players used to get a testimonial at the end of there careers which the majority of fans fully supported. Now a player can earn £1m + a month with admission prices soaring beyond the reach of many fans. The gap between average salary’s has gone way out of proportion.
Yes, a players career is relatively shortish, but surely £250,000 plus a week is creating a gap between the players, reality with the real world and driving a wedge between the fans and clubs. You only have to see the car park before a game.
For me the very disturbing part of this is the growing arrogance of players who are earning huge sums....”do you know who I am?”, Foden and Greenwood for England and reports of players sordid details. Time for a reality check football....you are losing touch with the world, fans and we are resenting it....BIG TIME.

Jesus_02 added 09:41 - Sep 18
As a child I remember Oxford struggling and the football world rallying round to support them. I thought that characterised British sports. Oh well

Jesus_02 added 10:29 - Sep 18
Just looked at some figures RE Macclesfield Town... the world is upside down. An "Average" premiership player could have settled the debt in 2 months. The average player does get 200 times the national average wage though!

But seriously the debt was way less than the average house price in London. The League docked them points and put them in non league. Which is mad because its not like they were trying to "do a Leeds"

When I look at the money that is risked on players like Carrillo I actually feel a little sick

Boris1977 added 10:44 - Sep 18
Good article Nick. The point about getting out of the habit is a very good one. I used to have a season ticket until 2000 when I move to London and could not afford the to keep my season ticket, plus the train fare down to Soton every other week. This was mainly down to the 3 fold increase in housing costs between London and Soton. It was a massive wrench and I felt like I was betraying my club.

However time healed surprisingly quickly and I started playing football again on Saturday afternoons for the first time in ages and built up a brilliant network of friends which was invaluable in moving to a 'lonley' place like London.

I go to around 10-15 games a season nowadays so I'm certainly a casual fan. I still love the club but the fact is football has changed a lot since the late 70's when I first started going regulalry with my uncle. I'm sure some things have changed for the better (for example my aunt stopped going in the 70's due to the threat of hooliganism - which I never recall seeing as a kid even in the 80s) but on the whole the game has moved away from being an affordable part of a lot of peoples everyday life to being an entertainment expericence simliar to disney land where everything is 'awesome' and every aspect has been monetised. I'm not sure if its better but its certainly different.

The big question is if I had have kept my season ticket going and spent ever increasing money on trains and travelling down to Soton every week would I resent what is currently going on right now in terms of the uncertainty and the constant selling, or threat of selling, the clubs family silver? Yes, I think I would. As it is, I just see it as part of the game which puts a greater emotional distance between me and the what it means to be a supporter of the club.

PaleRider added 11:37 - Sep 18
I hate Sky and the Premier League with a passion. Many of the above comments ring true and as a supporter of a PL club I feel completely disengaged from the whole experience.

However, let's not forget the good work that is being done by organisations like the Saints foundation who benefit from Saints being in the PL.

Won't stop me from supporting Saints but I feel much less inclined to go to matches (especially home games).

SanMarco added 12:25 - Sep 18
Great article. Greed has been institutionalised in recent decades and nowhere more so than in football. Spuds-Macclesfield is a fascinating analogy. In the 2008 crash and with Covid the bigger you are the more chance you have of being bailed out. This comes from the 'too big to fail' mantra. My question is: why are Spuds too big to fail - its just a football club. If it needs a loan from the state it can't afford Bale. Fullstop. There are millions of hard-working struggling people at the moment who should take permanent priority over Daniel Levy and Gareth Bale and the likes.

As for Greed making me rethink my support: if I was going to do that I would have done it years ago. Our support isn't really a choice is it? It is more an emotion than a transaction. If someone gave me a million to 'stop supporting Saints' and I accepted would my heart still skip a beat at the words "There's been a goal at St. Mary's" - of course it would.

I believe that football should be forced to become a self-sustaining business like a chain of retail stores. John Lewis, say, has the choice to close stores or subsidise the smaller ones. If football wants Macclesfield and Scunthorpe etc then support for those teams needs to come from within the game. Bale could get by on a few bob less a week. Football itself needs to redistribute resources. No need for 'free market' bullspit - neoliberalism is dead. What comes next won't kill BIG football anymore than it will kill BIG banks but it could do for vast swathes of football. Do I care? Yes. Will stopping supporting Saints do anything to solve the problem? No.

saintjf added 13:14 - Sep 18
A very, very good article. Certainly does not apply just to football.... Increasing wealth gaps in life. Supporting a team is not just about logic it is an emotional attachment. That emotion should neither be taken for granted or exploited.

the_saint added 15:09 - Sep 18
Sometimes I agree with you nick with the defence issues, sometimes I don't like what season ticket holders should get priority to home games when the gates open.
But this article is superb, well written and good facts so credit where credit is due well done nick

Dellwizard added 15:12 - Sep 18
Good article Nick.
I've been saying for a long time now, that there should be a transfer tax made by the football authorities, for every transfer that is made.
This money would then be distributed right through to grass roots level.
This would be a fair solution as the bigger clubs will then contribute the most to helping out those that are less fortunate.

A1079 added 17:36 - Sep 18
A good interesting article Nick.

I have never been able to purchase a season ticket, but until I moved 200 odd miles away I barely missed a match - home or away. I have always been a member wherever and whenever I can. As someone else mentioned, being a supporter, a fan is almost unconditional and it is in your blood, psyche etc. It never goes away, even when you feel frustrated and annoyed with your team or club. But, it is hard to imagine why you would purchase a season ticket in this current time.

But, I have to admit, alot about football makes me disappointed and it is less important to me now than it used to be. I don't have Sky and never had but even when the chance arises I actually watch very little football on TV because football for me is very much about the whole experience of going - good, bad or indifferent.

The obscene sums is hard to understand when you see what is happening. I used to watch smaller clubs locally when I could not go to Saints and yes it was a different enjoyment. The sums seem even more obscene when you hear of staff being made redundant whilst in the next breath you hear of clubs paying extortionate transfer fees or wages for a player.

I suppose it is unlikely to change now as long as there is the supply and demand though, I can see interest in attending games waning as people get used to not going and realise what they are saving and what else they can do with their time and hard earned cash.

saintmark1976 added 18:17 - Sep 18
A good well written article Nick.

The fault however does not rest with Spurs. It falls full square with a government that lends them £175 million of tax payers money without any apparent stipulation as to how it can be spent. P A Y E for the little people to purchase and fund the life style of already mega rich overrated footballers.

Big_T added 14:50 - Sep 20
I have never subscribed to Sky BT or Virgin and never will !
In part due to the ruination of football by greed !
I am a fan not a subscriber, Saints are my home team who wish the best for.
I haven't been able to afford premier league football and probably never will.
I read a piece yesterday about deli Ali smashing KWP car in the car park at spuds,
Did he apologise or pay for the damage ? No ! He laughed about it and KWP paid for the damage himself ?????? This speaks massively about the attitude of money and greed in the premier league 😢
Very sad.

SaintBrock added 20:48 - Sep 20
This may help. I used to love football so the thought of a live PL match for free on the Beeb tonight should have been a treat to look forward to. In fact, I almost forgot it was on, watched two very boring teams for about 15 mins then turned it off again. I'm not even interested in the outcome.


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