These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the Southern Premier - just seven leagues below the Premier League. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton. After nearly 14 nomadic years we finally have a brand spanking new home in Slough.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

MONEY CANT BUY YOU LOVE

Printed in the Southern League Premier Division match v Weymouth on Saturday 19th March 2016 We drew 0-0 in front of 320.

Me and my big mouth. 'You should support your local team' I droned on and on to my eldest as he flirted with Arsenal and Barcelona. 'You've got no chance of me taking you' as I made him a Slough Town mascot or took him to the Dripping Pan and Eastbourne Town. For once he actually listened and now I've got a £900 bill for two Brighton and Hove Albion season tickets – the price increasing because my eldest is now 10! With my last Slough season ticket costing me £120 that price has not only made my eyes water but means we will now be eating porridge for breakfast, lunch and tea for the next couple of months.

Football clubs know they can get away with charging so much because football fans stick up for their clubs more than they do their spouses. And then ten thousand Liverpool fans walked out of a game on the 77 minute in protest about increased ticket prices and their team imploded and the owners changed their tune. A few weeks later, after a long-running Football Supporters Federation Twenty's Plenty campaign, the Premiership kindly agreed to put a £30 cap on away fans ticket prices. This was of course helped by a TV deal that is so lucrative they could let away fans in for free. They also acknowledged that without away fans the atmosphere that helps them sell the TV rights is diminished (until they find a way of canned cheering).

Last Sunday Charlton fans held a death march for their club and halted the game with a bouncy ball protest – ironically being on TV helped publicise what is being done to the club by its owners. Forget the fact that Sky had broken league rules by giving Middlesbrough and Charlton fans just 17 days notice that the game was being moved to a Sunday. Writing in Teesside’s Evening Gazette journalist Anthony Vickers described Sky as rolling “a hand-grenade” into the carefully prepared plans of thousands and outlined how fixtures changes leave fans feeling powerless. “That needs addressing urgently. By government intervention if necessary. No other product or service is delivered in such an arbitrary fashion and with no redress. It is a scandal,” writes Vickers.

Leeds have been so incensed with their fixture run around that they threatened to lock the cameras out while FC United of Manchester, set up by Man United fans fed up amongst other things of being dicked around by TV companies, where threatened by the FA when they initially refused to have their FA Cup game moved to a Monday.

Brighton's chief executive argues that the TV money comes in handy and reaches a new TV audience – which is fine, if you disregard all the thousands of fans who turn up week in, week out.
It's like Tescos punishing their regular customers while pandering to the ones that cant be arsed to come to their stores. Eventually the regulars are going to tell you to stuff it up your turnstiles.

So far this season Brighton have had 10 games moved because of TV. Imagine if you had bought tickets for a gig, you'd organise work and travel and then the promoters change the date and time. You would rightly be banging on the ticket office door demanding a refund. Not if you are a football fan. Richard Robinson is a Leeds United fan based in Luton while his son studies at university in Newcastle. Both are season ticket holders at Elland Road. “I am increasingly appalled by the way paying football fans are treated by TV companies. My son, aged 20, is at university in Newcastle and had already booked his train ticket for the Saturday. When the match was changed the ticket was obviously invalid,” says Richard. He contacted the Football League for a refund – “patronising beyond belief” – and Sky. The broadcaster offered merchandise in lieu of a train ticket refund. And it wasn’t even Leeds United gear. “Why would my adult son want a teddy bear of Paul Merson or Matt Le Tissier?” asks Richard. A question to which there is literally no answer.

My answer has always been for fans to tell their clubs to stick it and go and support a local non league team. Then my eldest becomes a Brighton fan and i'm caught with Monday night tickets on a school night that I cant give away, egg on my face, a Slough Town top gathering dust and porridge for tea. 


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