Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood expressed empathy with Villa supporters over the costs of following the team when he was informed about the Football Supporters Federation arranged nationwide protest at rising ticket prices.
“IT COSTS A FORTUNE DOESN’T IT? IT FEELS LIKE A LOT OF MONEY. I’D LIKE THEM ALL TO COME IN FOR NOTHING.” – TIM SHERWOOD
Unaware that the protest was happening at all Premier League games and many Championship games this weekend, Sherwood followed West Ham boss Slaven Billic’s lead the day before in sympathising with the financial burden on fans.
The West Ham boss had stated: “Football is not golf or polo for VIPs, for the elite. Football is the people’s sport, it is a sport for the masses.”
“You can play football anywhere,” he added. “You can put down two stones or two bins down and you can play.
“It shouldn’t be a privilege to go by yourself, with your mate, with your girlfriend, wife, or to take your kids to a football game. It should be there for everybody.”
A study by GoEuro and Onefootball found that supporters here pay the most of any major football league, an average of £53.76 – over double the £23.02 paid by German fans watching games in the Bundesliga.
Sherwood also expressed his concern over the costs.
“It costs a fortune doesn’t it? It feels like a lot of money. I’d like them all to come in for nothing,” he said.
“But it’s the other people at the clubs who are making those decisions. Perhaps, I haven’t looked at the economics of it.
“They don’t stay away, certainly the Aston Villa fans. They certainly come. But it’s a lot of money if you’ve got a lot of kids and big families to watch football in the Premier League.”
The Aston Villa Supporters Trust too along with MOMS are fully behind the nation-wide supporter protest.
“For some time now, the AVST has been concerned that fans are being priced out,” says Stuart Griffin of the AVST. “This is why we back the FSF’s campaign and again raise the fact that Norwich’s immediate promotion back to the Premier League means each club had an unexpected financial windfall (£1.2m each) that would more than cover the cost of such action.”
As well as the Norwich parachute payment ‘bonus’ money that Premier League clubs received, from next season, Premier League club’s will reap immense financial awards which also gives them the leeway to spread the wealth.
“With the bumper new television deal due to start next season, it is time that this money was used to give supporters a better deal rather ending up in the pockets of players and agents.” Adds Griffin.
Demand and Supply?
With the issue of ticket prices increasingly being discussed over social media this week in light of the protest, one of the arguments that some fans have highlighted is that the high prices are simply ‘demand and supply’. But allowing market forces to dictate prices is taking the game out of reach of younger fans, families and putting increasing financial burden on die-hard fans.
Some supporters want to see their teams at whatever the cost, because to them following their team is a big part of their life. Yet clubs constantly take advantage of such fan sentiment and the captive market it creates. That’s why clubs also get away with charging over £50 for a replica shirt.
Understandably supporters can get frustrated thinking they are powerless, and certainly on MOMS social media you often read fans saying, ‘The clubs will never listen and they don’t care about supporters, so what’s the point?’.
The truth of the matter is football supporters together actually form an extremely powerful consumer group. They are the ones who pay for the tickets and the expensive Sky TV packages that the business of football is built on.
Clubs and the Premier League have long banked on the tribal nature of football supporters in minimising any collective fan influence in the game, but this weekend’s coming together of all club’s fans is the first step in football fans realising the power they can have together.
It’s time to make a stand, so please join fellow Villa fans at 2.15pm in the Holte End car park area for a photo with the banners to show how you feel about ticket prices. UTV
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