CHEAP TICKETS DON’T SPELL SUCCESS
SO it is £1,955 for a season ticket at Arsenal but only £67 at Bayern Munich. Attendances in the Bundesliga are averaging 44,293 while the Premier League average is 34,601. When I saw those facts, my reaction was slightly different to the one you might expect.
I immediately thought how low German gates were compared to how cheap their prices were. Yes, German football is being lauded right now and the Germans deserve credit; of course they do. But we mustn’t perpetually hammer ourselves. Perhaps our clubs’ failure in Europe this season has been down to the levels of demand that exist in the Premier League. Competition is so fierce that sides are bound to be more drained than the German sides, which on the whole, carry fewer quality players than our top division.
Whether we like it or not, money attracts much of the top talent and the Premier League does have to generate its income.
I want the game to be affordable for fans; I thought it was brilliant to see treble the crowd up at Morecambe this year when they experimented with free football on a Tuesday night. But, the bills need paying and the quality of football will reflect the quality of players. It is a really tough one.
There will be clubs in lower leagues who decide to lower prices, raise crowds and pay much less to younger squads. The Bundesliga is 52 per cent homegrown versus 35 per cent homegrown in the Premier League. The trouble is that some of those clubs will fail because of it. So clubs have to be careful. It is all about balance. And timing. There will always be a moment where a club becomes a successful exception. But following exceptions doesn’t always reap rewards.
PAYING RESPECTS: Graham Westley among the crowd during the Mitchell Cole memorial match. Below, Mitchell’s daughter Rhys, 7 and son Georgie, 5 with Boro bear