Population of Manchester:392819
Manchester Uniteds Worldwide fanbase: 75 Million
Something about these figures don’t add up. Now, fair enough to all the kids in China, America, Ireland and other countries with no football culture to be proud of, but a sizeable amount of these ‘fans’ live in the UK, particuarly down here in the south-east. This, I believe is a major part of whats wrong with football today.
Imagine if all these people supported their local team. Many, many clubs below the Premiership are in huge debts whilst footballs elite, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and now Chelsea make millions of the back of shirt sales to kids and adults who have no real idea what it is to support a football club. Consequently, the gap between the rich and poor gets bigger as Man U fans living in Newhaven moan that they only spent about Â£20 million on players in the summer while their local professional team, the club that represents the area, Brighton and Hove Albion runs at a huge loss and has no stadium of their own to speak of. Instead of sitting on their arses watching Sky every Sunday on the system that forces real supporters of their team to attend kick offs at the most inconvenient times. They should be down at the Withdean which, despite a paltry 7,000 seat capacity in a city of around 155,000, not to mention the surrounding area that has no other clubs to speak of, does not sell out. Or they should join the campaign for Brighton to get their planned 22,000 seater stadium in Falmer, although it will be half empty anyway if the plastic cycle continues.
So, who is to blame for this sorry state of affairs? The blame falls mainly at the feet of the football media. When the Premiership was formed in 1992 the top clubs in the country effectively divorced from the football league and since then winning the league has only been the preserve of the wealthy as opposed to the days when small clubs like Derby, Nottingham Forest or even QPR could at least be in with a shot at winning with the right circumstances. Most of Sky’s success has been founded on bankrolling
Premiership clubs, broadcasting and over-saturating the market with their product. CaughtOffside itself only has Premiership coverage, and at the time of writing just has articles on ‘the big four’ on the front page.
The only way to break this vicious cycle is a complete overhaul of footballs media, with coverage for clubs based roughly on how many fans attend their games. Smaller clubs too need to work harder to attract local fans as well, and reinforce the notion that when they play they represent that area. As for the big four, you can’t expect them to stop marketing themselves at kids living hundreds of miles from the ground. But if they continue to do so, and the rich/poor divide becomes greater, supporters will get bored of footballs predictibality; I for one can’t see anyone apart from Manchester United , Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal winning the league in the next 15 years.
Football’s wealth and fanbase needs to be redistrubuted fast before the bottom falls out of the game and the competitive element is lost completely, and a whole generation becomes armchair fans.
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