With Sky and BT set to pay a record breaking £5.1bn for TV rights of the Premier League, could the average fan be priced out and turn to their local Non-League teams?
With more money in the game than ever and with that fact only set to increase, how is your run-of-the-mill supporter going to fare? We have only just seen the events at Liverpool, where after 77 minutes of play, an estimated 10,000 people voted with their feet and left. This was all in protest of plans to introduce a £77 ticket. Much is made of ticket prices, which are probably one of the most important aspects a Football club can control.
Lets be honest, £77 is too much It will price out the real supporters; families and communities will be forced away from the club and the atmosphere will be lost. Hardcore fans who form the very foundation of a Football club will give way to, as Roy Keane once famously put it, “The Prawn Sandwich Brigade”. But out of all this, maybe there is hope.
With over 95% of Football being played in England at the Non-League level, clubs only exist because of the hard work and dedication of their players, officials and supporters. I can only see supporters of professional clubs being forced away and into the Non-League. I have several friends who support large London teams, but due to the ticket prices increasing and a frustration of not “belonging” to their clubs, go to watch their local Non-League teams.
A ticket for my local team costs about £10. They play in the Ryman League Division One South. I spoke to the father of one of their players and he told me his son was on £40 a week. With an average attendance of 200, the club makes around £2000 from gate receipts alone. It’s hardly bank breaking but when I go, I feel as though I am contributing to something. When I go to Spurs, I feel like my money goes to the board of directors and not to the players. This is where the difference with Non-League comes into play. I don’t begrudge paying £10 to see a lower standard of Football. I know the money goes to help a small club stay afloat.
With some brief research via the internet, it appears that only £56 million of the new TV deal is being ear marked for grass roots Football. This doesn’t sound like Non-League to me. Ticket prices WILL rise and player wages WILL increase in the professional game, but more supporters will be driven to the lower leagues which will allow those clubs to survive and hopefully flourish.
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