Watching football comes with a hefty price tag. Don’t go then. Feed the goat instead!

Watching football comes with a hefty price tag. Don’t go then. Feed the goat instead!

Every year there is a survey telling us how very expensive it is to go and watch football in England, especially in the Premier League. And every year nothing is done about it. Don’t expect the football authorities to demand clubs reduce the price of tickets. They’re in it together. They’re all out to lunch. An expensive one.

I confess I have no idea how anyone can afford to go and watch a live Premier League game these days. Are any of the Chelsea supporting lads I went to school with in the 60’s and 70’s going to Stamford Bridge now? If so, how so? Have they gone on to have jobs with big salaries? If I am ever around Stamford Bridge when a game is taking place I tend to look at the blokes of my age walking to or from the tube station and wonder if they were in my class. I want to stop them and ask: “How can you afford it?”

As for how any working man finds the funds to take his child or children to a game; it is beyond my comprehension. But there is little point in fans moaning. You don’t have to go. No, really, you don’t. It is not against the law to stop paying daft money to watch 90 minutes of so called entertainment.

football fans prices

If you object to the price of a match ticket the answer is simple. Don’t go!

And, while you’re at it, cancel that Sky Sports subscription you pay for. The one that allows you to watch all manner of games, across all divisions, in which you have little or no interest. After all, Sky Sports are part of the problem, not part of the solution. Your support of them ensures that ticket prices rise and that so much of the money you pay at the turnstile goes directly to agents.

Several clubs offer the ‘kids for a quid’ scheme for some games during the season (usually for the matches that are, on paper at least, the least attractive). I shall overlook the fact that kids are baby goats and that I’ve never seen a goat at a football match. ‘Children free’ would be a more accurate and attractive proposition.

West Ham United are to be applauded for offering the £1 entrance fee for youngsters for some Premier League games. But then they can afford it. After all, courtesy of the government, the taxpayer is paying for their new home. West Ham should be offering free season tickets for children for the next five years. That’s a way to attract future customers to their souless new home ground (good luck creating an Upton Park like atmosphere at the Olympic Stadium).

Phil Gartside. "30%? No problem."

Phil Gartside. “30%? No problem.”

Football clubs are often run by people so incompetent I wouldn’t trust them with my ‘kids’ pocket money – that’s if I had any baby goats!

Over recent years we have witnessed so many one time Premier League clubs go into freefall. All of them spent more than they could afford. All of them lined the pockets of avaricious agents. Millions of pounds have gone out of the game. Your money included.

Where the likes of Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United went, Bolton Wanderers followed. Run at the time of their fall from grace by men who never read the words of Mr. Micawber.

Bolton currently sit at the foot of the Championship. The club was recently sued for £300.000 by an agent. He lost his claim but, in open court, the case allowed us to hear about the madness that is rife in boardrooms.

Not long ago Bolton chairman Phil Gartside was being lauded as one of the future men of football administration. His star was in the ascendancy. He took a seat on the Wembley board and was in charge of the selection committee that picked David Bernstein to be the new FA chairman.

And yet this man, Gartside, was discredited in court by the judge hearing the case brought by an agent who felt he’d been cheated out of a deal. Bolton had backdated an agreement with another, bigger agency so giving the impression that they had already agreed to sign a certain player via the sports agency SEM, run by a man with ‘previous’, one Jerome Anderson (I’d like to say more about him, but best not). The judge called the backdated document signed by Gartside “amateurish.”

Bolton did a deal with one agent, Tony McGill, to sign Gavin McCann from Aston Villa. Then the club cut him out of the deal and struck the same deal with Anderson. The judge said McGill was “basically credible” but he lost the case due to him not having a binding contract with the player.

The agreement with SEM was dishonestly backdated to strengthen the agency’s position. Gartside first claimed he had signed the agreement with SEM on June 1st. But then he admitted to the judge it was actually a week later. Judge Waksman remarked that Gartside “became visibly uncomfortable when asked questions about this” and that “significant elements of his evidence were unsatisfactory.”

The figures involved were staggering. In brief, Bolton agreed to pay an agent £300.000 for the signature of a player costing £1M (one million pounds). That’s a 30% cut. Agents do not usually take 30%. So what did Jerome Anderson and his SEM agency do for that money? What was so special about the service they offered that led Gartside to fake the date on a binding document? The judge concluded: “In truth, SEM did little or nothing for their fee.”

So Bolton Wanderers paid £300.000 plus VAT for feck all!

To pay to watch Bolton play Brentford on October 25th you will pay £23. Loose change to Phil Gartside, Jerome Anderson and the players wearing the white shirt of Bolton. But could you not better spend that £23?

Agent Jerome Anderson

Agent Jerome Anderson

It’s wrong to pick on one club. They are almost all being ripped off by players and their agents. They are almost all ripping off you, the supporter.

If you currently earn the average wage (before tax) it would take you over 11 years of hard work before you could net what Jerome Anderson and his cronies were awarded – without argument – by Bolton Wanderers Football Club. That’s Bolton. Bottom of the Championship. Not Chelsea, top of the Premier League.

If you continue going to watch live football in the hope that, a few times in a season you will see a match that excites, then carry on. But don’t moan about the cost.

I’d love to see the day when all – that’s ALL – football fans used social media to unite and go on strike. Not go to any game on one or more match days. Believe me, then you would see the clubs sit up and take notice.

It won’t happen. Someone will always break a strike. For many going to the game on a Saturday (or more likely the day Sky Sports bosses decide you must go), is the highlight of their week. It’ a chance to forget about the shit job you have. It’s an opportunity to spend 90 minutes away from the nagging wife or abusive husband.

I suggest you go instead to watch your local amateur club. They will welcome you. You’ll be able to stand up, if you miss doing that. You’ll be welcome in the bar and be able to afford a drink and a snack. You’ll feel closer to the action. It’s football like it used to be. Anyone of my age group will love it.

The baby goats, who think football was only invented since foreign players plied their trade in England, will be less enthusiastic. But then they’re not paying, so tell them they have to enjoy it! Find the most exotically named player and tell your child he played in the World Cup. A white lie has always been the ammunition of last resort for any parent. Feed the goat, at affordable prices, and he or she will be happy.

When deciding whether or not to go to watch football, remember this. It’s your money. You’ve earned it. You choose how to spend it.

You pays your money and you takes your choice!


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