Supporters hit back at `rip-off' soccer clubs
Sunday 18 July 1999
The Football Task Force report, due to be published next month, gives striking examples of this "freedom". A season ticket at Arsenal now costs pounds 868 a year and at Chelsea pounds 1,120, more than a season ticket for the Royal Opera House. The report is scathing of clubs, most notoriously Manchester United, for continuously "ripping off" fans with frequent changes of strip.
Yesterday a small group of fans delivered a wreath to Downing Street (Tony Blair is a Newcastle fan) to mark the death of football as a game. Now, say the fans, it is big business.
Monica Hartland, Stoke City supporter: "Football isn't just about the Premiership - we're not just interested in the top. We feel there's a hidden agenda ... that they want to compress the Premiership. It looks like three or four clubs could fall out of the league, and that seems a bit convenient for them; it suits them to get rid of the smaller clubs."
Marc Longden, committee member on the Independent Manchester United Supporters' Association and the press officer for the Coalition of Football Supporters: "Let's face it, the FA, in the fans' eyes, aren't fit to be in control of the game. And the Premier League chairmen are much more interested in money than fans. The only way forward would be to have an independent body that would oversee all the current football issues and make its own recommendations."
Tom Watt (pictured), actor-turned-journalist and fierce Arsenal supporter: "Both organisations are making so much money that they have forgotten about the supporters' needs. I would like to see more done for disabled fans and more measures introduced to clamp down on racism in the stands."
But not all clubs are bad. A few make enormous efforts to involve fans.
Leicester City: believes all fans count. The club even canvassed their opinions on the design of new shirts. It works hard with the Asian community, which traditionally takes little interest in professional football. Fans persuaded Martin O'Neill to remain manager when bigger clubs wanted him.
Watford: mainly as a result of Graham Taylor's insistence, the club has built exceptionally good relations with local residents. Fans buying season tickets before knowing about promotion were given hefty discounts. Cheap season tickets for children are popular. Players work hard in the community. All fans' letters get replies.
Charlton Athletic: fan-power played an enormous part in ensuring the club's rescue from the brink of closure. They ensured the success of returning to the Valley, which required not only financial support but a lot of volunteer physical labour. Last season, when the club was fighting against relegation, the directors paid train fares and put on 27 coaches for fans to travel to Everton. The club has also teamed up with Greenwich Council to work with football-mad children.
Leyton Orient: being within a Tube ride of London's big Premiership clubs means that Orient has to work hard on making the locals feel not only wanted but influential. Its Football in the Community scheme employs 40 people, who work in some of the city's most deprived areas. The scheme is largely funded by the chairman, Barry Hearn, whose listening attitude towards the fans has closed a traditional gap.
Brentford: offers free coaching for local schools. Participating youngsters receive vouchers to help families pay for match tickets. Several times they have offered 1,000 free tickets to children.
Geoffrey Macnab does not like the comedian's big screen debut
Look beyond the usual shows for the best festive telly
The battle for control of Stieg Larsson's £30m legacy
French pub fined €9,000 after customers returned empties to bar - because it's 'undeclared labour'
The unluckiest people of the year 2013
PAs cleared of fraud - and Nigella Lawson left reeling at 'ridiculous sideshow' of drug allegations and public dissection of her marriage to Charles Saatchi
Burglar steals video tapes of child abuse, hands them into police
Paul Walker's daughter Meadow attends Justin Bieber Believe premiere
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
Anachronistic and iniquitous, grammar schools are a blot on the British education system
- 1 French pub fined €9,000 after customers returned empties to bar - because it's 'undeclared labour'
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 #Teamnigella: It’s the only side to be on
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 5 Burglar steals video tapes of child abuse, hands them into police
- < Previous
- Next >
£50000 - £75000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Project Manage...
Negotiable: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: Year 5 Teacher - Gilli...
£60000 - £90000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Business Analy...
£52000 per annum + Fantastic Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Audit Supervisor...