Fan pressure can lead to change in football
Over the years it has felt like the voice of fans is largely ignored.
Ignored by clubs, ignored by authorities and ignored by TV companies.
But in recent years we have seen that when fans put rivalries aside and come together as a single united voice, change happens.
It has been a few years now since the Premier League agreed on £30 away tickets – Arsenal give a further £4 discount.
This was following years of campaigning by fan groups under the “twenties plenty” banner. We often added out voice to the collective with numerous blogs written calling for cheaper away tickets.
Whilst we never got exactly what we wanted – a £20 cap on away tickets – the £30 cap was a significant win.
Prior to the cap coming in, Arsenal fans would end up paying Category A wherever they went. That meant over £50 to go to places like Hull or Newcastle. And above £60 to watch us play West Ham.
Likewise the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool fans would also get hit with the Category A pricing – with Arsenal charging them £64,
I remember Manchester City fans kicking off a huge fuss.
For the majority of the early to mid were Category B, and even C, at the likes of Arsenal. And then they won the league.
The next season they were Category A everywhere they went, adding hundreds to the cost of following the club.
So through fan pressure we got a reasonable cap on ticket prices.
We have also recently had movement on Safe Standing.
10 years ago the authorities would not even consider the debate. For them, Safe Standing was dangerous.
But again through fan pressure and a united front of all fans, we are now seeing Safe Standing being introduced.
Clubs in the Premier League and Championship will be able to offer licensed standing areas in their stadiums from January 1 next year as part of a pilot programme.
Another fantastic victory for match going fans.
Up next will be drinking in front of the pitch.
There is no logical reason not to be able to have a pint whilst watching football – you can drink whilst watching rugby, cricket boxing, or even at a Little Mix concert. So why not football?
It was just a stigma, a black mark against football fans based on a few incidents that happened 40+ years ago.
The authorities needed to recognise football and football followers have changed. That it is not the 70s or 80s anymore. And like with Safe Standing, having a beer in front of the pitch is not dangers. Does not contravene health and safety regulations.
But having a pint would only be a small win. There is a bigger battle on the horizon – the scheduling of games.
We blogged yesterday about how once again Arsenal’s travelling fans had been screwed over. Away games scheduled with no trains home.
Every club suffers through the season.
A trip to Liverpool or Newcastle where there is not a train home. A New Years day trip from Manchester to London for a 12:45 kick off. Newcastle scheduled to play in Brighton at 8pm on a Monday.
When it comes to what games are shown on TV, the television companies do not consider if there is available public transport for fans home.
Considering their “Zero Carbon” marketing; you would think ensuring that fans could get the most environmentally friendly form of transport would be of the upmost importance to TV companies. But no. They simply do not care.
So us travelling fans need to get together and pressure the Premier League to in turn pressurise TV companies to ensure no game is scheduled when there are no trains home.
Obviously you can not schedule for engineering works, but when Arsenal are away to Liverpool at 5:30 on a Saturday and the last train home is known to be at 7pm, Sky should not be scheduling the game at that time.
Fans would be able to get home if it was a 12:45 kick off, or a 3pm. But by scheduling at 5:30 the TV companies known they are forcing fans to either drive or pay extra for hotels.
This needs to be the next groupthink movement.
The Premier League need to force the TV companies to ensure that games are only scheduled if there are at least two trains back to the home clubs city available from 1 hour after the final whistle.
That 1 hour will give fans enough time to walk from stadia to station and get on a train. The second train then ensures if the first fills up quickly fans can still get home.
It might feel like at times that it is impossible for fans to force change. But as a united group across all clubs, we have shown we can.