Tomorrow, the BBC is going to reveal the findings of its The Price of Football 2014 study.
There will be things that the study will not cover. For example, it will not report on travelling to the game (it’s different for everyone); the prices of sandwiches at Greggs, since food in the stadium is eye-wateringly expensive (£4.10 for a pie?); and the cost of private counselling.
As a Newcastle United fan, it is very difficult to make purchasing decisions regarding replica kits and merchandise. If you buy from the club shop, where is that money really going? If you buy a new football shirt this season, will it have any bearing on on club recruitment or performance? If you buy these things elsewhere (and for much cheaper), are you giving less support to your team?
There is much to be angry about as a supporter. Football tickets may not be rising as much as they might be, but other things are becoming much more expensive. Football shirts are typically reaching beyond £50 now (for a shirt that you can’t really wear to a restaurant). Many teams require season ticket holders to become members.
And, despite this, the members and supporters have no voice. Newcastle United is an example that has a supporters’ panel to comply with UEFA regulations. The last meeting was cancelled at short notice. No actions have ever been taken as a result of any of these meetings, and representatives of the club largely comprise the public relations team.
If you think this is confined to club football, it is not. The international game is abhorrent. The Football Association releases a new kit for the England team every year, even though competitions occur in two year cycles. This season set a record for the shirt price and introduced two-tier pricing depending on how loyal you wish to appear to be. International competitions are run by the sponsors: being the official beverage of the World Cup permits you to ban any other beverage in the stadium, whether for sale or whether supporters wish to bring in a rival’s brand. It wouldn’t surprise me if there is soon an official paracetamol supplier to FIFA, meaning that many fans will have to endure headaches during a match unless they’re willing to pay inflated prices for the official pain-relief.
They call football “the beautiful game”, but it really isn’t. As entertainment, it’s top class. I thoroughly enjoy what I watch. It’s unlike any other entertainment, but there are things that come with the territory. As supporters, you have no control over the game. If the Premier League decide that a game will be held abroad, it will be. If the FIFA decide that supporters have to wear Puma boxer shorts and Adidas trainers, it will happen. If the owner of your football team decides that the club should move to a new city, change its name or change the colour of its kit, you aren’t going to be able to stop them.