The Last Word: Supporting a second smaller club could be just the ticket

Forget the Cissé perfume that costs less than entry to Arsenal and smell proper football again

Protest is built into the business plan. As dissident Manchester City fans spend this afternoon in the pub rather than at the Emirates, a poor wretch at the Premier League is doubtless devising a rebuttal strategy for anyone who dares to doubt the incipient generosity of the Attendance Working Group.

Richard Scudamore's Marie Antoinette moment will probably involve a variation on the theme suggested by Stoke's chief executive, Tony Scholes: a free away travel initiative which will cost constituent clubs up to £800,000 of the £61.9 million TV income they are scheduled to receive next season.

It is a laudable idea, corporately responsible and focus-group friendly. The problem will be finding unanimity and creating a sense of urgency. The proposal will not be voted on until the summer, by which time football clubs will have concocted new methods of disposing of the disposable income of their supporters.

The tat already ranges from a tasteful wedding garter peddled by Tottenham to a Mr Potato Head in Manchester United red. Loyalty is a grow-your-own Anfield (a packet of seeds and a cardboard stadium) or a Manchester City nodding dog, which bears an uncanny resemblance to David Platt, Roberto Mancini's dutiful assistant.

Someone must buy this stuff and keep sweatshops solvent. Is it any wonder clubs barely bother to camouflage their contempt? Arsène Wenger, an economics graduate from Strasbourg University, argues that anyone who demurs from paying the going rate at Arsenal "can choose to go to Man Utd... or Man City".

As so often these days, Wenger is half-right. His logic works for the tourists courted by big clubs. Their visit to Old Trafford or the Emirates is a passive experience which creates a vacuum of neutrality. Allegiance can be transferred without offending tribal loyalty only if it takes the Pre-mier League out of the equation.

Then there is a real opportunity to alter the dynamics of the market. If the current spasm of outrage at ticket pricing is to be relevant, affirmative action is required on a consistent and co-ordinated basis. The Premier League can continue to exist as a slickly produced TV soap opera; it is time to revive the notion of supporting a second club in the lower Leagues.

The tradition already exists to a limited degree on Merseyside. To steal the sentiments of a banner I saw at Tranmere, a club so cost-conscious staff literally ration the tea bags: "Where there is faith, there is light and strength". Prenton Park is a symbol of its community.

Clubs such as Bury, Rochdale and Oldham shiver in the shadow of Manchester's giants, but are a reminder of what football has sacrificed in an age of homogeneity and global opportunism.

London has alternative attractions which do not require a mortgage. A visit to the New Den is both a forbidding and a reaffirming experience. Brentford are a quietly progressive club with a far-sighted youth policy and an emerging manager, Uwe Rösler. Even Barnet have the macabre fascination of watching a legend, Edgar Davids, in penury.

The alternative is the pretension embodied by Djibril Cissé, an under-achieving footballer in an underwhelming team. The Queens Park Rangers striker, who acquired the title of Lord of the Manor of Frodsham in his Liverpool days, wishes to share his good fortune with the great unwashed.

Mr Lenoir, his newly launched fragrance, is described as "woody, spicy and amber". It apparently derives from "a blend of notes of bergamot, lavender, black pepper, cashmere wood, cardamom, labdanum, patchouli, vanilla and musk".

At £59 for a small bottle, it is cheaper than an away ticket at Arsenal. Bargain.

Dangers must be tackled head on

It is dangerous to make direct comparisons between rugby union and American football, but they are ominously instructive.

Each is a confrontational sport, shaped by a similar culture. Big boys don't cry. They get up and get on with the game. Concussion is accepted as a hazard of working life.

The endgame occurred in midweek, when neuro- scientists at the National Institutes of Health, an American research facility, released a starkly significant report.

They had analysed the brain tissue of Junior Seau, the gridiron star who committed suicide in May, and concluded that he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is a degenerative disease typically caused by multiple hits to the head.

Patients with CTE, which can only be diagnosed after death, display symptoms such as impulsiveness, forgetfulness and depression. The disease is thought to be central to a spate of suicides among NFL players, reported by Tom Dart on these pages last week.

Rugby lacks the relentless percussive punishment endured by linemen like Seau. But hits are getting bigger. Careers are getting shorter. The temptation to take one for the team is acute.

As we enter the Six Nations season, that traditional rite of passage, warning bells should be sounding.

Dive bombing

Tom Daley's television show Splash! is derivative, daft and demeaning. At best, it is infantile brain-rot. Yet compared to David Sparkes, who criticised the bronze medalist's participation but whose stewardship of British Swimming has been an unmitigated disaster, it has class.

Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum