The globalisation of football is killing the game for the local fans.
I have long held the above opinion. What this means in my eyes is that clubs, associations, organisations, are more interesting in growing their product abroad to increase revenues rather than looking after local fans.
What this results in is lucrative friendlies post & pre-season in America, Thailand, Singapore, Dubai, Qatar & Australia. Clubs bringing out 3 shirts a year to increase revenues. Clubs caring more about fans abroad and how they can market the club at foreign fans, than fans at home, looking after local fans.
The club would rather sell tickets to holiday companies in China, in America, and even here in the UK, at extortionate prices, than make more tickets available for local fans.
In the past there has been talk of Arsenal selling thousands of tickets to Chinese tour companies to Arsenal v Manchester United. Of hundreds of tickets for Spurs v Arsenal, Liverpool v Arsenal & Manchester United v Arsenal going to tour operators.
Whilst big games sell out at 35 credits, and loyal, local fans can go home and away are unable to get a ticket, tickets are legally sold by the club to foreign fans through these our operators at 10 times the cost to people who have never been to a game.
And don’t get me started on the recent proposals by the Premier League of a 39th game.
So what brings on this mornings rant?
Well once again we have talk about the future of football.
The discussion happens once every few years. A break away European Super League. It is usually around the time European clubs are unhappy with UEFA. They use their power making it clear they are the product, not Champions League football, and threaten to pull out of UEFA competitions and set up their own, independent, franchised European Super League. UEFA usually buckle and give the clubs what they want.
This time however the story is a little different. They are now talking about a World Super League.
Jacco Swart, director of the European Professional Football Leagues, said: “We will see a worldwide football competition in a few years. That is a development which nobody can stop anymore.”
“It will be an exclusive party for the happy few — for the biggest football brands in the world.”
The European Professional Football League is the organisation created to protect the interests of domestic leagues.
The article go’s on to say that a World Super League will see the top sides from Europe, America, China, South Africa, Australia & Brazil create their own league, playing home and away through the world. It will be taking the game to the citizens of the world, but away from local fans.
A breakaway league will happen in my lifetime. It is inevitable. The question is, how do you respond?
As someone who go’s home and away, do I continue doing that? Spend even more money travelling the world following The Arsenal – it is hard enough and expensive enough doing it just in the UK. Or do I give up on away games, just go to home matches – which will become more expensive, and just do the odd away games. Paris, Madrid, Barcelona.
The 3rd option is I give up on Arsenal Football Club as we know it all together. To support a phoenix club that will surely be set up due to the frustrations and anger of local fans. An Arsenal version of FC United of Manchester. FC United of Arsenal? The Arsenal?
A phoenix club would have to start at the bottom, like FCUM and AFC Wimbledon would have done, and would have to rise through the leagues. AFC Wimbledon have done it successfully, now in League One and looking to move into a new stadium, back to the club’s home in Plough Lane.
FCUM have stalled. After 3 successive promotions, they spent 7 seasons in the Northern Premier League Premier Division. Attendances dwindling from an average of 3,059 in their first season to as low as 1,849 in 2012/13. In 2014/15 they were promoted to the National League North where they finished 13th including a run of 7 straight defeats (19 league defeats in total). Average crowds back up to 3,394, it is the 6th tier of league football. Promotion gets them to the National League (formally the Conference).
It would not be easy starting a phoenix club. But Arsenal does have the loyal following. A few thousand have stopped going in recent years due to unhappiness with where football is going. Would they return? Add in those who still go, but if the game pushed them a bit further, with a European or World Super League, there is no reason a phoenix Arsenal club could not see crowds of 5,000.
Of course, they would need the stadium. A brief look shows that other than the Emirates Stadium, there are no other stadiums in Islington that we could “share” (a local might tell me different?). That would probably see us have to move out to get a stadium. With Borehamwood’s current links with the club, it would be an option, but I imagine Arsenal would block that.
The most logical bet would be to team up with Barnet. Creating a ground share similar to what AFC Wimbledon have with Kingstonian. No longer at Underhill, Barnet now play at The Hive, a 5,176 capacity stadium. It would be the best option for Arsenal.
More reasonable match day tickets, the cannon facing the right way, a return to a proper stadium where we can stand (drink and smoke). Swear as much as we want, no grasses, no attention seekers. A return to proper football in a proper ground following a proper team.
The future beyond that would be unclear. The new club would not be short of wannabe investors. And I ma sure it would rise through the leagues at a similar pace as AFC Wimbledon. The problem would be returning to Wimbledon.
It cost Arsenal £400,000,000 to build the Emirates Stadium. Now the phoenixed club, when ready to return, would probably not need a stadium as big as the current souless bowl. But it would probably need a 20,000 seater with the ability to expand (like what AFC Wimbledon are planning). To build this in Islington you are probably looking at £150-200m. A vast sum for a club which will be run by the fans for the fans.
The question is simple.
If an FC United of Arsenal phoenixed due to the creation of a Super League, who would you spend your hard earned money going to see week in week out?