I really hate the way Sky, BT, the Premier League, the clubs and the football authorities in this country are totally ripping football fans off. Season tickets can now cost a month’s salary for some low-paid workers. Single game tickets can go for anything from forty to a hundred quid. To sit on your arse on a plastic seat in a cold stadium for 90 minutes, often watching a lacklustre bore draw. A hundred quid a pop. My first motor didn’t cost that much. Now it’s four quid for a pint, three quid for a pie, two quid for a coke, coffee or cup of tea (aka, £2 for a teabag that tastes like floor-sweepings in a styrofoam cup of tepid water). Then there’s the travel to away games. If you’re paying for yourself and the missus or the nipper, you can easily be out of pocket two hundred and fifty quid, for a single game. No wonder working class culture has been ripped out of the heart of British football. Even without the recession it’s just getting too bloody expensive for poor people to follow their teams. The game has been sold out to the middle classes. It’s not the same in Germany, Spain, France or South America of course, where greed hasn’t yet been allowed to hijack football to the same extent.
There was an interesting article in today’s Independent on this very subject, which included this priceless quote:
“German fans can watch Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich all season for only £104 – less than the price of some tickets for a single Arsenal game.” Says it all really.
Even for footy fans who can no longer afford to go to games, watching from home is becoming equally expensive. Take Sky. I have satellite TV with Sky. I pay Sky £25 a month for their ‘Sports Package’. Now you would think, wouldn’t you, that paying Sky £25 a month for their ‘Sports’ package would mean I wouldn’t have to pay again if I wanted to watch a sporting event on Sky. And by the way, you can’t have the Sports Package on its own, you have to have it with one of their main packages, like the ‘Variety’ one I’m on, which costs another £30. Add Sky+ on top so I can record programmes while I’m out, add HD so I don’t have to watch programmes that look like they’ve been filmed through the bottom of a steamed up glass, and add multi-room so my lad can watch his own favourites in his room, and Sky are basically into you for £70-£80. A month. Okay, so I get to watch Game of Thrones and Nigella Lawson dangling spaghetti over her pearly gnashers, on demand, but it’s still a lot of money.
Now, I’m first and foremost an English footy fan, as in, a fan of English football. What I mostly want to watch is Premier League games. ESPECIALLY those involving top teams. I’m talking your Man U’s, your Arsenals, your Chelseas, your Liverpools and your Man Citys. Maybe Spurs on a good day. What I’m LESS interested in, are the middle and bottom of table scraps, unless there’s a top team or one of my own teams are involved (Wolves & Norwich, don’t ask). Similarly I have next to NO interest in watching lower league games unless my own teams are involved. That means the Championship, League One, League Two, just doesn’t cut it. Sorry Huddersfield, Doncaster and Accrington, I know your fans are going to hate me but I didn’t agree to shell out getting on for a ton a month to Sky to watch lower-league football in half-empty stadiums. Even if they do try and sell it to me with a wanky title like FL72 Live. WTF, grow up Sky and stop trying to treat me like an idiot.
Here’s how it goes on most Saturdays when I’m not actually at a game. Or Sundays, or on week-nights when there are Premier League fixtures on. Say Arsenal are playing Man U, or it’s Liverpool v Chelsea, or Man City against Spurs. So I’m rubbing my hands thinking, I’ll have a bit of that. So I get the kettle on, or knock the cap off a bottle, settle down on the sofa and what happens? I fire up the telly, remote over to Sky Sports and wouldn’t you know it, the only Premier League game on offer is West Brom against Fulham, or Stoke v Sunderland. No offence meant guys, I know you feel the same about my lot. That’s the point, apart from our own teams, we only want to watch the top teams with the best players. We can go down the local park and watch rubbish.
If Sky are really taking the piss they won’t even have a Premier League fixture on offer at all. It’ll be something scarily exciting like Birmingham v Leeds in the Championship, or god forbid Hearts v Aberdeen from the SPL. I mean, WTF x 2? WTF squared? I’d rather be in the garden, or doing some knitting. But wait, scroll down a little bit to the BT Sports channels and eureka, up pops the Arsenal v Man U game. Which, if I want to watch that I have to cough up AGAIN! That’s right, ANOTHER TWELVE QUID to Sky for the privilege. Or I have to switch my perfectly functioning Plusnet broadband to BT, which I have no intention of doing because BT broadband is as reliable as a Lib Dem promise on tuition fees and the customer service is a joke. I mean, am I being a bit thick here? Am I being completely unreasonable? Because I was under the impression that if I paid £25 a month for a ‘Sports’ package, I should’t have to pay again to watch sport.
Today was a classic case in point, the day of the traditional Community Shield fixture between last year’s Premier League and FA Cup winners, i.e. Man City v Arsenal. Traditionally the big curtain-raiser to the new season. ALWAYS, but ALWAYS, the Community Shield fixture used to be available for footy fans all over the country to watch live, as in, free, on terrestrial TV. I mean, there’s a bit of a clue in the title, ‘Community’ Shield, or as it used to be known, the ‘Charity’ Shield. A traditional annual match that the whole country looked forward to watching on telly. So I checked on BBC, nowt. ITV, the same. Sky Sports, not a sign. Scroll down to BT Sport and there it is, live at 3pm. If you want to watch it, get your hand in your pocket, again. It’s enough to make you bloody weep.
Sky treat their football punters like right mugs. To add insult, they’re trying to palm off their brand new channel on us, Sky Sports 5, as some kind of favour they’ve giving us out of the kindness of their hearts, “included as part of the standard price of Sky Sports, at no extra cost,” said the smarmy email they sent me a few days ago. It went on to say, “Sky Sports 5 will be your new home of European Football… you will be able to watch 128 exclusive live matches from the UEFA Champions League and over 100 more from Spain’s La Liga and Copa del Rey. There will also be live coverage of the European Qualifiers and the Dutch Eredivisie”.
Oh really, well woo fucking hoo with knobs on. Now, if anyone at Sky is reading this, in case I didn’t make myself clear, or you are in any doubt, I don’t really give a flying monkey’s foreskin about whether Malaga earn a hard-fought draw at Getafe on a Sunday night, or ADO Den Haag slip up in a tricky home fixture against PEC Zwolle. You might as well televise live Morris Dancing for all I care. I’m not stupid, and I’m not falling for your Sports 5 bullshit. If you thought it was any good you wouldn’t be giving it away, anyone who knows you greedy bastards will have come to that conclusion already. If you thought real British footy fans would be queuing up to watch it you’d be charging us a premium. But you know, and we know, we’ll never watch it. So why don’t you take it and shove it where the Spanish sun don’t shine, and give us back our top Premier League football games, before we throw in the towel completely and send you back our Sky boxes and start reading books and listening to music again. Now there’s a thought.by