On BBC Radio 5 live, Ex-Spurs and Newcastle player Chris Waddle declared that the EFL Cup was a “total rip off”. Saying that teams should announce their squad for the cup’s fixtures in advance at the start of the week.
“It would mean that if you’re travelling a long way you’d know that it will be a weaker side and you may not buy a ticket,” Waddle said.
First a foremost, it shows just how out of touch pundits are with fans. Ex-players and journalists who have not had to pay for a ticket for years, and not had to put their hand in their pocked for a train either.
Anyone who does away games will know that you buy your train ticket early doors, taking advantage of Advanced tickets. No one will leave it till the Monday to decide if they want to go to a game based on the team sheet coming out, as you would then face ludicrous train prices.
For example, if the EFL Cup was next week, and a Spurs fan decided to pay their ticket today to Liverpool, the cost would be £153. The cost for November 29th (the QF date) is more than half that amount.
So fans need to plan in advance their travel. They cannot, as Waddle wants us to do, wait until the beginning of the week to decide if they want to go to the game based on the team sheet. Then add in booking the time off work booked at short notice, and you see just how out of touch Waddle is with his comments.
Then you have the clubs. It would be a logistical nightmare.
Arsenal have one of the best ticket booking systems around. Imagine 60,000 people logging on at 9am on a Monday morning to buy their tickets. The system would crash. And clubs who still use paper tickets rather than membership cards, it would be impossible for them to post out tickets on a Monday to guarantee them getting to the fan on a Tuesday.
Again, Waddle would not know this, he has not bought a ticket for a match in decades.
So we have an out-of-touch pundit who does not pay for his own tickets, does not pay for his own trains, has everything organised for him by whoever is paying for his comments, fighting on behalf of fans rights.
Why does he not talk about the likes of Sky & BT leaving it so long to decide what games they are going to show on TV? Meaning, like with the Man City v Arsenal game, cheaper advanced tickets are sold out before the game is moved. Why does he not pipe up about Arsenal fans having to travel to Burnley on a Sunday evening with no way home? Or a trip to Everton being scheduled on a Tuesday night?
Where was Chris Waddle when Everton fans had to travel to London to face Crystal Palace on a Friday night. With no way home. Or Burnley having to travel to Watford the following Monday. He is surprisingly quiet when it comes to how fans are mistreated by TV companies and scheduling. But why would he bite off the hand that feeds him.
Instead Waddle talks about how clubs treat fans poorly due to putting out changed line ups for the League Cup.
Before the Arsenal game, I stuck this up on the SheWore Facebook page:
Yes, I was disappointed by the amount of changes (it was actually 71, not 80) and I even suggested cancelling the competition, or making it under-23 only. But that does not mean that I think it is a rip off.
Playing youth sides, reserve sides, in the League Cup is nothing new. You do not travel to Nottingham Forest or Sheffield Wednesday on a mid-weeker expecting Arsene Wenger to put out Arsenal’s strongest line up.
In-fact, weakened sides is what often makes the competition more interesting for fans. The likes of Jack Wilshere & Cesc Fabregas made their break through in the competition.
Fabregas made his debut in the competition in 2003/04, scored his first goal for Arsenal that season, and all 3 appearances in red & white came in the League Cup. The next year he played over 40 times in the first team.
Jack Wilshire also made his first start in the League Cup (his 2nd appearance for Arsenal overall having played 6 minutes against Blackburn previously). In 2008/2009 he started 3 times for Arsenal. All were in the League Cup. Like Fabregas, he also scored his first goal.
The League Cup is now a big part of a players development.
In last seasons disappointing 3-0 loss to Sheffield Wednesday, the Arsenal number 45 making his debut was a chap called Alex Iwobi. Who would have predicted a year later people would be asking why Alex Iwobi is playing in the 2nd string in the League Cup once more?
This years competition has given the chance to the likes of Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Chris Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Who knows where all 3 might be next year?
Fans go into the League Cup knowing their side will be putting out a weaker XI. But it is the chance to see a youngster in a senior game that gets the fans excited, the reason why the turn up. They certainly do not feel cheated when the side is named, as Waddle would have you believe.
For the Reading game, Arsenal, as always, charged fans £10 lower / £20 upper for adults. And kids got in for £5 lower / £10 upper. Likewise, Nottingham Forest reduced their prices to just £20 when Arsenal visited them earlier in the season.
The majority of sides already offer massively discounted ticket prices for the League Cup, recognising the fact that there will be wholesale changes to line ups.
Now if Arsenal were to charge the normal £33-£60-odd prices for a League Cup game to watch a rotated side, then yes, I would feel ripped off. But they do not. And the majority of clubs do not.
Once again, it shows how horribly out of touch Waddle is. He probably could not even tell the BBC how much Arsenal, Liverpool, or other sides charged their fans this week. He is probably not aware that a father could take two kids to the game for £20.
Does Chris Waddle complain that fans of semi-professional Halifax Town are ripping of their fans?
Tickets for the National League North side – the 6th step on the football pyramid – are £16 for adults, £13 for concessions, and £5 for under 12’s. So on Tuesday night, you could have been watching Halifax Town play FC United of Manchester for the same price as you could have watched Arsenal against Reading. Who is really being ripped off?
The fact is, whilst the EFL has its problems, it is a brilliant opportunity to take kids, watch some young talent (and established stars – the Arsenal XI contained 5 players capped by their countries) and have a good evening out with the family at the football. Especially taking into account this week has been half term.
Like a young players first game for Arsenal being the League Cup, I wonder how many fathers have taken their sons for their first game in the League Cup this season, or previous seasons.
Maybe Waddle, before spouting rubbish, should have got out of his cosy BBC studio and gone to Arsenal, Liverpool or Leeds on Tuesday and asked the fans as the left do you feel ripped off? I bet no fan would have replied yes.
So Chris Waddle, you’re out of touch and talk a lot of twaddle. Maybe if you actually paid for a ticket, or a train, you would understand the real problems that fans have on a normal game day. Rotated squads for the cut-price EFL Cup is the least of fans complaints these days.