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The Tragedy of Elite Level Football

Friday Sep 28, 2018

 Most of the fans at a Tamworth FC match will inevitably be from the local area, know each other, be familiar with the roots of the club and so on. As you progress up the football pyramid, however, you will notice that those pillars of a club tend to change somewhat. 


 Fans, while admittedly welcome from further afield, will have less of an association with the clubs they are supporting. In a sense, community becomes replaced by commercialism.

 That in itself is not an indictment of top-level football. Fans of Tamworth will be well aware that a day out at, say, Old Trafford is a markedly different experience than the Lamb Ground. They will also be aware that a press interview with Dennis Greene different to the theatrics of Jose Mourinho. The reality that we have accepted is that they are supposed to operate in different worlds. Tamworth and Manchester United are effectively playing different sports. 


 Television dominates top league decision-making 

 But, consider this incident: A few weeks ago, the Premier League announced that the dates for a series of fixtures were changing due to a problem with Spurs’ new stadium. In short, Spurs would have to play Manchester City on a Monday night in London and Manchester United and Everton would move from Saturday lunchtime into the Sunday afternoon slot vacated by the other two teams. 

 The crucial thing to understand here is that this set of fixtures was changed after the television scheduling had been announced, which usually causes a scramble to book hotels, trains and flights. Fans on Twitter were quick to vent their frustrations. No formal apology was issued by the clubs or broadcasters. Some had to rearrange flights from Ireland, America, Japan; some couldn’t. Others had booked trains to London for a Sunday game – but were now told they would have to travel on a Monday night. Not one club, the league or Sky issued a formal apology. 

 Better betting opportunities with big clubs

 While we look up at Premier League clubs and may feel that the fans have a sense of entitlement. It should also be remembered that they can suffer from that sense of disconnect from the club. Of course, they do get benefits. For example, if you bet on football online at sites like Betway, you are more likely to find free bets, price boosts and other promos for top level football. The reality is that you will find special odds for Sergio Aguero to score at the weekend, but no such luck with Akwasi Asante. Indeed, it can be difficult to even find odds for Tamworth on a given day. 

 Of course, this is not all meant to glorify non-league football. On open terraces, with the wind and biting rain coming down, most of us will begin to doubt our loyalty on a cold December night in the away stands at Kettering, Coalville and Leiston. But there is also a sense of being invested in a side where there are no agents harnessing the media in an effort to cut deals for their clients, no managerial strops in the press conferences and a team that is organically part of the community.


 If you speak to those fans whose travel fans were scuppered by a stroke of someone’s pen, because the money earned outweighs the needs of the fans: If you speak to those families who feel they have to fork out £90 for a child’s football kit season after season; If you speak to those who are counted by their club as consumers, not fans. Many will fell they have become disenfranchised and disconnected from their clubs. The problem is that the clubs know that there are many more fans to take their places. A tragedy perhaps, but one that suggests you should get involved with your local club, where your voice counts.

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