At What Cost?

Karl Marx once described religion as, “the opium of the masses.” Now in the 21st century, the majority of the planet has found a new drug to lift their minds from the banality of everyday life – football.

There is no other entity that can hope to match football in terms of popularity. People across the vast spread of Earth may have different skin colours, languages, income tax bands, genders or sexual orientations, but what can unite virtually anyone is a shared love of the beautiful game.

Yet this popularity has come at a cost.

Living in the hyper-capitalist world we inhabit, everything is made fit for consumption. The sport’s universal appeal has allowed companies to package and distribute what we crave for exorbitant sums.

A true football fanatic living in Britain who wishes to inhale as much football as possible, from the comfort of their own home, is now forced to purchase entertainment packages from both SKY Sports and BT Sports, a privilege that will cost you roughly £50 per month, £600 a year.

As more and more people in this country are pressed deeper into economic difficulties, it is a sum that many are finding unrealistically expensive.

The huge sums generated from Television rights, over £5billion across three years in the United Kingdom alone, should mean that clubs are less reliant on match day revenue. The Premier League’s key selling point is the joyous, colourful, packed stadiums that illuminate the actual game’s background.

You would like to imagine that the clubs, more monied than at any point in history, would subsidise the experience for the fans, a not entirely selfless act, cheaper tickets would ensure that the league remains marketable. Sadly, those in charge of clubs look as though they have become fully indoctrinated in the teachings of Gordon Gekko, “greed is good.”

The average price for a season ticket at Arsenal last season was £891. In fact, only five of the clubs who call the Premier League their home, could claim to offer season tickets for less than £400. At first glance this does not seem too problematic, but when you consider that the cost of living continues to rise steadily, yet the average wage remains frozen in place (at around £22,000), it is understandable that less people are now in a position where they can willingly spend so such.

This has potentially ruinous ramifications. Richard Scudamore and his like may fancy that they have built an empire, a dynasty that is set to last for a millennium, yet if history teaches us anything, it is that nothing is permanent.

The demographic inside stadiums is changing.

A couple of decades ago it was thousands of young men who would congeal into one raucous, enthralling mass of support, belting out songs and generating the type of atmosphere that was so revered. Now after years of steady price hikes, Premier League grounds are populated with the older members of society and tourists – those who have the disposable income needed to attend. This of course is fine, after all everyone should have the opportunity to support the team they love, but we have to me mindful of the consequences.

The huge increase in money surrounding the English game has financed the recruitment of managers and players of a standard and in a quantity never before seen on these shores. And while this of course is terrific, we must be careful that it doesn’t come at a cost so expensive that it will price future generations out of the sport.

The world is littered with enterprises that have put short-term gain before long-term sustainability, lets not let football crumble under its own avarice.

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