While women’s football is picking up steam, men’s football is facing an ugly record

This really does feel like the season when the patience of loyal fans will finally be tested

Jul 31, 2022 11:14 am(Updated 11:15am)

The Euro 2022 final between England and Germany proves that football really needs to – to use the cliché – come home. Not to mention the two outstanding teams, the record crowd at Wembley Final and the unprecedented media coverage throughout the tournament; It’s the reminder of what football is about that was the real revelation of this hugely successful event.

With the return of the arrogant, pompous and jaded men’s game for what could be a pivotal season, the women’s tournament was a welcome breath of fresh air in an overheated summer.

Why Make or Break? This really does feel like the season when the patience of loyal fans will finally be tested. The ridiculously condescending lockdown mantra “football is nothing without fans” sounds extremely hollow. As the irresistible forces of broadcast rights money and staggering player salaries meet the immovable objects of many clubs’ financial malaise and the economic crisis gripping much of their fanbase, this could be the season when that ultimate consumer group is taken for granted – the Football fan – goes insane after a delay and vows not to take it anymore.

Even my little local club, Fulham, how do we reward us long-suffering fans for being promoted back to the Premier League? Single ticket prices from £100, only five per cent discount for seniors and new season kits from £70 (lettering is extra). The new shirt sponsor is a Chinese betting company, W88, which doesn’t even operate in the UK. Who wants that? The fact that neither the individual tickets nor the kits are anywhere near the most expensive in the league tells you how expensive the average, more traditional football fan is today.

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To be fair, my season ticket at Craven Cottage is only £550: relatively good value, despite four fewer home Premier League games than the Championship. However, many families can only do these one-on-one games; You can’t afford four season tickets. The cheapest Arsenal season ticket is now £927, while Tottenham’s most expensive is a staggering £2,025. For Spurs?

Yes, the Premier League has a fare cap of £30 for away fans, but you still have to travel, sometimes now to games where there is no public transport at home due to changed television seasons. Away fans of the Championship can pay upwards of £30. Add in the travel costs and the terrible food options at the stadium and you can pay £80 plus a head for a family of four.

Can’t afford to go to a game? At least you can watch Sky – as long as you’re in the Premier League, right? That’s not so easy now that many games can now be viewed not only on BT but also on Amazon Prime Video (with its recent 12.5 per cent price increase). If families cut Netflix because of the cost of living crisis, is that sustainable?

The Women’s Championship proved that even at its best, football still has those captivating elements of passion, skill, grace, determination, agony and ecstasy. It’s captivating and addictive. But £300-400 for a family to watch your team get beaten by a top six side, plus £30 a month on TV to watch Middle Eastern Oil City’s league win again? Let’s see how long this Lioness-inspired euphoria lasts.

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