Football Supporter March to Premier League Offices
Last week MOMS and Brigada 1874 joined forces to represent Villa at the Football Supporters Federation (FSF) march on the Premier League offices in the name of ‘Affordable Football’.
While the Premier League becomes richer and richer, the only ones not to benefit from its increasing wealth are the supporters of the top 20 teams, who ultimately end up paying more and more. Salt of the earth football fans are being priced out the game and as a direct result, the atmosphere at most of the grounds isn’t a patch on what it used to be.
[quote_center] Supporters are the lifeblood of football and in theory could cut off the circulation of the game, if it continues to poison us with its greed.[/quote_center]
The Premier League’s current media deal is worth £5.5 billion, an increase of £2.1 billion on the previous three years. According to the FSF, the increase in Premier League media rights alone could have led to all 20 clubs letting in each and every supporter for all 38 games for free last season without being any worse off than they had been the season before.
The Football League also has pricing issues too and with them sharing the same office as the Premier League, they were a focus for the protest march too.
The FSF march began at Marble Arch, where supporters from teams including Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Arsenal, Sunderland, Everton, West Ham, QPR, Chelsea, Spurs, Brentford, Stoke, Cardiff, Leeds and Bradford City, all met for a series of speeches and to also talk to the media.
Fans from across the divide of both Merseyside and Tyneside had shared coaches to get to London in a further act of supporter solidarity.
It’s a shame their efforts were rewarded with better weather like last year’s march, as the sun soon gave way to pesky showers once the march began passing from Marble Arch through the streets of London to arrive at 30 Gloucester Place, where a delegation of supporters met with the Premier League for talks.
Unfortunately due to the awkward Thursday afternoon timing, a few of the prime movers in the banner department from last year’s march weren’t present and it wasn’t as vocal as the previous year, so it was left to Liverpool and Villa fans to at least provide the visual message in terms of banners on the march.
The Brigada 1874 brought with them a massive ‘Against Modern Football’ banner and a ‘Fat Cat’ banner, the later one was particularly popular with the press when a member of the Brigada posed with it on the steps of the Premier League Office.
Another Villan on the march who runs the facebook page All I Care About is AVFC took the traditional bedsheet approach, creating a rough and ready sign that read: ‘Football is Life, Not a TV Show’.
The march went well and the few police on duty didn’t have to be there, it was so orderly.
After the march a few hours drinking at the Globe Tavern at Baker Street brought together some fun and interesting conversation between rival fans.
God knows why there had to be a Bradford City fan there though…he seemed very happy to talk to Villa fans for some reason…
One other funny highlight (especially in hindsight) was the elderly lady Stoke fan who was very sharp with the banter. Picking up on my remark in the discussion that started in the pub about needing to have a march or a protest initiative on a Saturday match day to increase awareness, she came up to me later and said, ‘Do you want to do it on Saturdays so you can avoid having to watch the Villa, like this Saturday!’
I hope she enjoyed the game at the Britannia a couple of days later! (I think it was Stoke 0 Villa 1, wasn’t it?)
Bonds were renewed between Liverpool and Villa supporters from the previous year’s session at the Globe with some good laughs with the guys from Spion Kop 1906 (the lads who organise a lot of the banner and flag displays on the Kop at Anfield). It would be nice to meet those guys one day in that same pub before a Villa vs Liverpool cup final.
Achievements of march
Michael Martin the board member of the Newcastle United Supporter Trust, who was one of the supporter delegates who met Richard Scudamore and the Premier League representatives, sums up the meeting as being ‘talks about talks’.
Football supporters are one of the biggest consumer groups out there and they could force necessary change if we wanted to, rather than being victims. We are the lifeblood of football and in theory could cut off the circulation of the game, if it continues to poison us with its greed.
As Michael of the NUST wrote in his FSF article on the march and meeting
‘What we need now, right across football – is more supporter-led activism, more pressure placed upon clubs, more publicity for those clubs who refuse to ticket-match for away fans as an example. Fans need to get off their arses and protest.
‘No-one is going to hand this to us on a plate. “Liking” stuff on Face-book or “re-tweeting” support for various views, articles etc. is all very well but that kind of slacktavism isn’t going to be enough.’
Last year I was the only Villan present at the march, so it was good to see the number of Villa fans increase (fair play to those who made the effort). At the next one, hopefully our numbers will swell even further. They need to. UTV
Article in the Birmingham Mail about Villa fans on the march
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