Evolution of Football – Supply and Demand

As you sit back in silence in your comfy chair watching the half time performance, whilst you wait for your side to emerge from the newly enforced thirty minutes half time due to the pull television has over football nowadays and you’d realise how far football has fallen. Add in Jam Cam and we might aswell give up now, however unfortunately this is the path we’re heading down. Everything changes in time, especially when something can be considered even more important than religion, and it is hard for the true football fans to truly accept the shallow changes that are enforced upon us nowadays.

He can usually be found sitting in the Old Trafford dugout.

Now let me explain my stance on everything. I’m a 26 year old male and have grown up with the Sky era of football that makes it easier for ‘fans’ to sit at home and watch the game. I never experienced a game in the 60’s or 70’s and therefore cannot really comment on how football has changed. However, I do listen a lot to older supporters (of all clubs) and understand the concerns and frustrations when faced with day trippers, Mexican waves and empty seats. Firstly, its evident that the gap between players and fans has increased enormously. We’ll never know exactly how much the players get paid – and will always rely on media speculation and random e-mails that place Darrent Bent as the 17th highest paid player in Europe – but we know it is a vast amount, something you and I could never even dream of earning. You may argue that being a footballer is short career and these players bring us so much joy that they deserve to earn as much money as they can. However, the inflated wages is a direct result of demand for football and how certain people can exploit the game for personal gain and capitalize on the popularity of the greatest sport on earth. Players wages have increased immensely over the past fifteen years; however if your valued at a certain figure – why oppose it?

Terry Hurlock was unavailable for the shoot

Sky has played a revolutionary part in the development of the modern day fan experience from their American style blockbuster Super Sunday to the tactical side of the last word and then to the extent highlights show on Saturday night. They’ve even expanded the service to view different angles of the pitch and follow specific players (although I believe this has been dropped now) to fans view – where you get commentary from fans of the two clubs involved. A good service, but lets get one thing straight – Television coverage of a football match will never ever beat being at the game and soaking up the atmosphere. However, the monopoly Sky has (although somewhat diluted since the introduction of Setanta) is big business and in August 2003 the Premier League award all four packages to Sky in a 1.024Billion pound deal – a staggering amount considering the average turnover by a Premier League club. Although Sky does have its advantages, being able to watch a massive selection of Spanish and European games throughout the course of the season, its inclusion within our football culture has shifted the game to a more ‘Americanized’ way of life.

St James’ Park has changed over the years.

Having all seater stadiums has also effected the atmosphere at our football grounds and being constantly reminded to ‘sit down’ doesn’t help either. I’m always getting asked by stewards and some fans to ‘sit down’ – not that i’m as big as the bloke above and i’m ruining the experience for everyone else – but it’s a natural reaction to stand and anticipate what is about to happen. We all know why all seater stadiums were introduced in England and of course it is important for fans of all ages to be safe. However – I don’t understand why some clubs do not offer a ‘standing only section’ that allows the supporter to make a decision on whether or not they wish to stand or sit for a football match. Again, we’d have to be careful that this doesn’t turn into a gimmick as so many other things inside our football grounds have turned into.

‘Sit down mate..for fuck sake..’

Now here is where the debate places you in the blue corner or the red corner (preferably the red corner). Some older football fans do argue that football was more enjoyable back in the 60’s and 70’s – maybe so having explored the reasons in this blog – however I would strongly disagree that the standard of football is better then than it is now. Now as i’ve said i’m 26 so I didn’t experience a football match in those days, however i’ve seen a vast amount of footage (as all football fans have) of the likes of Best, Pele, Di Stefano, Garrincha, Puskas, Cruyff and Sindelar. All geniuses who could play in todays game – but they’d be even better players with the facilities and strict diet regimes that are enforced upon the players today. Imagine Cruyff gliding across some of the pitches nowadays? In the days of Di Stefano and Puskas there was a wage restriction, in England, for how much each club could pay a player – that speaks volume for the fact that Duncan Edwards was being touted by Wolves as a teenager (not far from his home) but opted for Manchester United. Back in those days players played for who they wanted regardless of money. We’re not to say that these players wouldn’t want a financial reward if they played in today’s climate – after all shouldn’t you be paid more for excelling at something? However, it was a more honest time when players and fans were closer – now they are a million miles away due to our celebrity hungry culture and the evolution of football.

As a school boy, Edwards choose United over Wolves

I had a good friend, who I would consider the most dedicated Manchester United supporter I’ve ever come across. Born and raised a Mancunian he has been a season ticket holder for many, many seasons and his knowledge about United is impeccable. It’s supporters like this that I do not want to see taken advantage of with inflated ticket prices and ticket schemes that make you spend a fortune. Everything changes in life – especially if it gets into the wrong hands and some parts of football have. The decline of the League and FA Cup are a direct result of more money being pumped into the Premier League than ever before. Staying in the Premier League is far more important than advancing in the cup – just ask Bolton Wanderers after last night’s performance. Although – for the record – I would just like to add that I’m not an avid supporter of the League Cup (and yes I realise that it helped spring board our current side in 2006 to actually realise they could win things) due to the how it came about (The FA secretary was so angry that United ventured into the European Cup in the 50’s that he thought of this amazing plan to rival the competition with a domestic cup – masterstroke). True football fans deserve to watch the game unfold, sing their hearts out and enjoy banter with their mates over the game. If football continues to be seen as a business instead of a way of life, true fans will be priced out of the market, the gap between the players and fans will be even greater and every club will sell their soul for advertising rights and sponsorships. Football has changed a lot in the last twenty odd years – lets hope the next twenty retains some of that honesty and integrity that we know still exists in todays game.

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