Modern football, a term that’s almost old school again. It’s against a lot of things. Modern stadiums , modern stadium catering, seating , ticket prices, idiotic hired stewards eh hosts and hostesses. And a lot of other things, let’s not forget the bans , mandatory away travelling arrangements. The lot basically. It used to be better, so much better. Standing in the wind, rain , and cold. Drinks and food sold out or robbed out at half time. Waiting at the tickets office for hours on end hoping to get a ticket to European matches. You get the picture although I might have overstated some of the above. Everybody has their own more or less romanticized view on days past.
Today it was announced the 4 most important football nations in Europe will have 4 places each for the Champions League. You know the competition for the champions of the different European leagues. Didn’t know we had 4 in each. I know, I know it’s been a silly name for a number of years now.
The smaller country’s will lose more once again. This has been an ongoing process. In the Netherlands every club in the 90’s envisioned European titles in their ambitions, building new expensive stadiums. Building mountains of debt and subsequently getting in a lot of distress. But sports as a business is a reality, has been for some time and everyone was looking to the US for examples of how to run a sports business. Club managers attended seminars , conferences and got their heads filled with silly ideas, supporters are customers, hospitality packages and all seater stadiums. Some Football clubs even went on the stock market. Forgetting one thing, the supporters.
Supporting a team in Europe means something vastly different then in the US. In the big 3 sports anyway. In the US people can move teams around the country, from Oakland to LA and back again as was the case with the Raiders. In my view there is a bit of a culture behind it. For me there was.
In any case , money took over in Europe. League tickets are expensive and the former working class Saturday/Sunday adventures became unobtainable for a lot of people. Well Saturday turned into Monday , Tuesday and other every day of the week basically. But people have to work. You can’t be expected to travel half way across the country on a Monday for a 7PM kick off. Most of us not anyway.
One important aspect of being a supporter of a club is the social element. Most people who end up going to the fixtures where either taken by their parents, other family or just decided to go with friends. All at a young age. For a small amount of money you could go enjoy the atmosphere , the build up, watch a game and share the stories for years and years to come. Friendships for life are forged and now matter what you will always follow that club. More or less with the same people season in and out. Whether it be a local team or one of the bigger clubs. For what ? the Football, no off course not it’s the social side of things. Meeting up , seeing old friends , reminiscing on old stories. Sharing experiences and beer.
The big leagues are getting too expensive for young people to really get attached to a club. Watching it on TV will not let you make any new friends, experience the days out (far more fun most of the time than the actual match.) and feel the energy of those once in a lifetime victories in the dying seconds of a cup final. Bringing your kids is too expensive, and they will not choose a club , but a player so you end buying another team’s shirt every season because your kids favourite player just moved. For another record braking sum of money. And this is very wrong.
In the smaller competitions and countries ousted of the champions league due to the new rules, I see a lot of room for improvements. At first it will be a lot less. Some fans will lose their European away games. Which I must admit are legendary. Less money from TV, sponsors and everything else. As a club you will probably have to sell all of the talent every season , and that maybe a bit of an annoyance.
Less money from all those distractions will hopefully achieve the following, and I know I will stretch it a bit here. Quality games will not be readily available any more. After a few seasons most of the tourists will stay away, thus leaving the clubs with the few die-hards who are willing to sacrifice all of their money for a season ticket. Eventually prices will have to come down, in other words getting people to go to the stadium on a very regular basis will be the main source of income. The rotten dialogue between most club boards and their supporters will have to be restored. Supporters will once again have a say in clubs , idiotic Monday night games will be a thing of the past. Everyone will play on a Saturday (sorry personal preference , in my case Sunday’s 14:30 would be the real old school way) and thus have time for a night out afterwards.
Competitions will be far more exciting because most teams will be equally good (or bad). Parents will bring their kids again, they will make friends and after a few years will start going with their friends and make new friends, all friends for life. And so on , The balance of old is restored and new stories will be told for years to come.