Fanpower, Where Has It Gone?

Posted: October 30, 2015 in Fans, Football, Opinion
Tags: , , , , ,

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‘I always say the same – if the footballing world doesn’t think of the fans, it’s going to lose the passion and the love. So I was impressed but I was very happy because the fans come first here.
They travel around the world, they spend the money, they spend the time so I think we have to be very, very thankful.’

A nice quote from a rich Premier League football player. Is he English? No. Is he even British? No. Of course not, there aren’t any British footballers left in the UK according to all the harbingers of doom.

This is a quote from Manchester United’s Ander Herrera, who can’t yet consider himself a first team regular, although he should be able to.

Having only spent a relatively short time in England he has quickly grasped what makes football what it is.

It certainly is not Sky Sports Television. The money it ploughs into football definitely helps to improve certain aspects of the game. Does anybody honestly believe that this money comes in the form of a charitable donation? Sky will receive much more in profits FROM the game than it will ever put in. So to all the people who think Sky is wonderful, it is not! It has certainly vastly improved the way football is covered by the TV companies but it has done it to ensure it’s profits for the future, nothing else.

It certainly is not BT Sports Television. Please copy and paste the previous paragraph into this space changing only the references to Sky and replacing with BT.

It is also not the amount of foreign players the English leagues in general, and the Premier league in particular, are able to attract. Some argue that this influx of non-British players is stifling the production of young British talent. Paul Scholes said recently that even the youth teams contained an alarming amount of foreign lads. One thing has always been true. If an English player is good enough, he will make the grade. Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, John Stones, Ross Barkley, Luke Shaw and Jack Butland spring to mind without giving it any serious thought and there are many others.

People are commenting on how good the England team can be with all the young players Hodgson is currently picking. Remember, this youth problem is not a new, or exclusively Premier League affliction. England have not won a trophy since the 1966 World Cup. Are we only now trying to explain the failure of the last fifty years by coming up with an excuse which has only been relevant for the last ten years or so?

Anyway, back to the point. Herrera needed no time to identify that the life blood of the British game is the fans. Wherever he plays, he has been impressed by the sheer numbers who turn up, whatever the weather, wherever the game.

The real fans will always spend their times in between games looking forward to the next game, saving their money for the trip if it’s an away match, or arranging to meet their mates to go to the home match. They will continue to pay exorbitant amounts of money to watch their team win, lose or draw and will go home in the mood of the result. They will not be given anything by their team for attending except, hopefully, entertainment and a win, if they are lucky.

It is nice to see that the fans are fighting back a little with, for example, the “twenty is plenty” campaign and their protest on the price of away tickets for the Arsenal game. The problem I have with the Bayern fans deliberately arriving five minutes late for their Champions League game at the Emirates, is that I don’t see what that actually achieves. It may cause a little inconvenience for the stewards, who don’t set the ticket prices, but for Arsenal, where’s the problem? It would have been far better, in my opinion, to boycott the game. I know that isn’t what real fans want to do, but until it starts to happen, protests like the one at the Emirates will be met with the attitude “So what?”, by the clubs. Also remember that most clubs overcharge for their tickets, Arsenal just overcharge by more than the rest.

Football clubs are famous for saying that the most important part of the club is the fans. They will spend millions on players, training facilities, travel in private jets, corporate boxes and renewing or refurbishing stadia. They do it all for the fans, they say. I used to believe them, when I was young and naive.

They do it all for money, nothing else. Improving facilities for the fans brings more fans. Travelling to the Far East, or America or Australia is a marketing ploy designed entirely to attract any “undecided” fans in those areas to the club. The bottom line is that more fans means more money.

The more money a club has, the more it can pay the players, therefore attracting better players. The better the players, the more chance the club has of winning something. The more a club wins, the more fans it will attract. The more fans, the more money and so it goes on.

I prefer the Ander Herrera view of fans. They, like him, are genuine, they love the club and will follow wherever the club goes. That is the truth. If only the clubs could see that without thinking of the profit when they do. Then, as all the old romantics say, the world would be a better place.

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