Forgive me if I assume with some degree of confidence that your reading of these words means you are a football fan, or at least retain a passing interest in the subject.
Lets say you’re a die-hard fanatic, deeply passionate about the fabric and fortunes of “your” team. You have devoted countless hours to watching them, suffered and savoured every possible emotion, gladly parted with thousands of pounds in the hope it will help “your” team, no matter the sacrifices required of you. Anything for the team.
This admirable stance would warrant a loyalty reward and wide scale applause in most other industries. You would be lauded, showered with wonderful financial offers, bargains, day trips. Unfortunately for you, modern fan, football is nothing like any other industry. Not even remotely comparable. Why? Well, because you don’t matter a jot.
It hurts to write such painful yet obvious truths, but television deals such as those proffered by Sky and BT (£5.5 billion), exorbitant sponsorship deals like the one secured from Nike by Manchester United (£300 million), and the significant wealth of foreign owners (incalculable) have quite simply rendered your contribution as laughable.
You’re a walking wallet that sings when the team are winning and occasionally makes a scene when they don’t. Big wow. Yes, gate receipts are still handy, but just how integral are they when one considers that Arsenal, for example, could slash all ticket prices (admittedly they are equivalent to ransom figures seen in the Third World) by 50% and still comfortably turn an annual profit? And that is without the ridiculously high merchandise revenues thrown in.
In such circumstances an average Gooners £50 ticket pales into insignificance, a measly sum when compared to the vast treasures on offer from corporate giants and Eastern Block Oligarchs. It really would make a barely noticeable difference if you, fan, gathered a few hundred fellow supporters and boycotted a few games. A club can replace you in seconds. Any club can for that matter.
Sometimes they dare to commit worse crimes than ignore a rowdy AGM meeting or turn a blind eye to the public opinions inscribed on Fanzines. Take Hull City FC owner Assem Allam, an Egyptian born multi-millionaire who purchased the club in 2010 after making his fortune selling industrial generators in Yorkshire.
One would think that a man of such apparent business acumen and intelligence would understand that threatening to re-brand the name of a club founded in 1904 as the Hull City Tigers in a pathetic attempt to attract a booming Asian market, might infuriate a few loyal, paying fans. Apparently not.
One would also think that Allam might wish to refrain from saying “They (protesters) can die as soon as they want, as long as they leave the club for the majority who just want to watch football.” Ah, maybe not.
What a frankly despicable, narrow minded and down right idiotic outburst from a petulant 74 year old with an axe to grind and an agenda to push. What a way to confirm all our fears that football fans and their happiness really no longer matters. Need we say more? Oh, alright then.
How about Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan, a property, golf and gambling billionaire from China, surely he would care about maintaining the status quo, the Yin and Yang if you will. I mean he wouldn’t have the audacity to change the Bluebirds fabled blue kit into red. Nor could he ever envisage changing the clubs name or hiring a 23 year old Kazakh work experience student as overseer of talent recruitment. No, Mr Tan would never consider such things.
Well at least that is one boss who has seen sense and adhered to club tradition. Perhaps Mr Allam should take a leaf out of his rather large portfolio and listen to the enraged masses baying for his blood (metaphorically). Or, as is increasingly likely in this era of big bucks and even bigger imbeciles, he will do exactly as he wishes with his relatively new toy.
So go on, go on with hope in your hearts and little in your pocket, for you, fan, are funding these ignorant corporate monsters. As the famous song goes“You’ll never walk along”, just don’t go and spend your last few quid betting on it.