WE are all the same. I am you. You are me. We are all just sentient sacks of meat, strapped to a lump of rock by gravity, hurtling through the infinity of the cosmos, writes IAIN MACINTOSH on The Set Pieces. Ignore Nigel Farage. Ignore Katie Hopkins. Forget about their politics of division. We are inconsequential lumps of matter in the eternity of nothing. So let’s stick together, eh? Let’s at least try to bring ticket prices down.
Nothing in football is as depressing as the way rival supporters turn on each other, dividing and conquering themselves for the benefit of the rich. Next week, Liverpool supporters will boycott their trip to Hull rather than pay £50 a ticket. Now, you might consider £50 a price worth paying for Premier League football. Those footballers are, after all, really good at football. But Hull don’t charge all away fans £50 a ticket. They charged Everton £35 a ticket. They charged Stoke £16 a ticket.
Will rival supporters back the Liverpool fans in their battle? Will they bollocks. First they will point out that £50 is not dissimilar to what you’d pay at Anfield, as if the Liverpool fans are delighted about the prices there as well. Then they’ll do what they did to the Manchester City fans who had to pay £64 a ticket at Arsenal. They’ll mock and sneer on social media. They may, if we’re really lucky, make jokes about Scousers and dole money.
I recall with a shudder the tweeter who told me that City fans couldn’t moan about ticket prices because their transfer policy demonstrated that they clearly weren’t short of a few quid. As if Sheikh Mansour’s wealth had been magically redistributed amongst the supporter base. Or the Arsenal fan who said that if charging £64 a ticket was what it took to match City’s financial muscle, then so be it.
Up and down the country, the same people who proudly declare football to be the sport of the working class, gleefully allied themselves with wealth and then threw their fellow supporter under a bus.
You don’t have to make everything a partisan issue. It’s okay to hate a football club, but to still find common ground with their supporters. Take Chelsea for example. No-one likes Chelsea. We have the stats to prove it. If they somehow screw up the title, you are more than entitled to laugh at them. In fact, I demand it of you. But don’t laugh at their supporters when they’re told to pay £55 for an away day at Loftus Road. Because if QPR do it to them and no-one makes a fuss, they’ll do it to you too.
You can hate Liverpool if you like. Pick a reason: Suarez? Brenton Rodgers? Ian Ayre arbitrarily deciding that Liverpool should have more TV revenue on the basis of intangible ‘big club’ qualities? Knock yourself out. But don’t hate their fans for actually having the balls to try and do something. Because they do it, and the next club does it and your club does it, then maybe things will change. We’re certainly not getting anywhere with retweets and likes, are we?
James Clark wrote powerfully about the battle between football and its supporters and he concluded that it was lost long ago. I don’t believe that. I believe that there is now so much money sloshing around in football that there is no longer an incentive to keep ticket prices so high, not when it’s set against the benefit of full, noisy stadiums.
I believe that the Premier League realises this. Once I believed that the people who worked there sat upon thrones made of kitten skulls and sent fire-eyed ravens to do their bidding. In transpires that this is only true in isolated cases. Most of them are okay. And they’re definitely not stupid.
If they see solidarity from supporters, they will take note. If they see a movement that threatens the earnings of their members, they will be forced to take action. They may have to listen to the Football Supporters Federation’s idea about a £20 maximum price for away tickets. But all of that progress is compromised every time you take the piss on Twitter. What is wrong with you? Do you like paying more money?
Look at you. You’re like me. You’re like him in the Liverpool shirt and you’re like her in the Chelsea hat. Save for being a sentient sack of space meat, you have nothing in common with Jose Mourinho. You have nothing in common with Wayne Rooney. You have nothing in common with Daniel Levy. You have nothing in common with Richard Scudamore. Stop siding with them. Stop fighting their battles for them. Stand together with your own people or roll down your trousers and assume the position. But don’t come bleating to me the next time you get hit for a £60 ticket.
First published on The Set Pieces
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda-Photo