No longer just a game


What could you buy for £90? Having done some research on the internet, the following are all currently selling at that price:

  • ‘Cosatto Noodle Supa’ highchair
  • ‘Peltor Sport’ ear defenders for clay pigeon shooting
  • ‘SIP’ saw dust collector
  • ‘Playmobil’ grand mansion dollhouse
  • ‘Lavenham Raydon’ men’s jacket
  • ‘Martinez’ classical guitar (3/4 size)
  • ‘Callaway’ golf bag

Or, alternatively, you could spend that amount of money on a ‘replica’ England World Cup shirt. Largely made of polyester, it’s one of those tops that will need washing after each wear because it creates a horrible smell even after 30 minutes of wear. Although all of the above are completely useless to me, I know which I’d rather spend my money on (except the jacket, it’s hideous!). But is it just a sign of how much of a business the game has become?

You would have thought that, being an exact copy of what the team will wear in Rio, the ‘Match’ shirt would be quite easy to find. In fact, it’s much the opposite. When browsing the internet I have found many retailers selling the ‘Stadium’ shirt which, at £60, is cheaper but still expensive for what is just a glorified sports top. Even on the Nike website, I had to search for a good couple of minutes to find the more expensive top, whilst the ‘Stadium’ one was first on the list. If it was a limited edition item, I could understand if the more expensive top was a bit harder to find; but nowhere have I read that it is and this is what makes the pricing even more preposterous. What was the point of Nike creating the shirt if they’re going to hide it on their own website?

It’s not just England who are selling tops they’re going to wear for just one tournament at such an extortionate price – from what I can find the adult tops for all 32 teams are priced between £55 and £60. It seems ridiculous to be paying so much for a top that may be outdated after just three games if the team are eliminated from the tournament. It may be worth it if you want a tournament keepsake and you won’t buy another top for a while, but not if you’re someone who buys each new kit that comes out. The last England top was only released 10 months ago and has only been used for a handful of games – that item is now completely outdated and many who bought it must be thinking that purchasing it was just a huge waste of money.

It’s not just international teams who do this though – each professional team releases new kit at the start of each season now and I think this is a clever piece of business. There are many fans out there who are want to obtain each new jersey and the clubs have cottoned on to this. Is there a need for a new jersey each season? Of course not, but if it makes money then it makes perfect sense to continue doing what they’re doing. It reflects just how much football has changed since its inception – up until the 1990s kits usually lasted two or three seasons for clubs whilst international teams generally unveiled new strips only for major events. Kits weren’t a profitable tool, they were something the team wore and that the fans could buy to feel a part of the club. Even in the early 2000s some teams only changed their design after a couple of seasons, but now it seems as though the team have only been wearing the kit for a couple of minutes before it changes. Of course, the changes to the home strips are often not that major, but it leaves fans feeling as though their current kit is outdated and they need to get the new one. It’s very simple but extremely effective money-making ploy.

It’s undeniable that football is now driven by business, but do the fans really deserved to be charged so much money to support their favourite team? It’s not just the replica tops that are costly but everything clubs sell. Looking on the website of the team I support, it costs £25 for a pair of pyjamas with the club logo on it. £25? That’s absurd! It’s not just the price of things they sell as well but also what they sell – the list varies from baby clothes to a dog lead to door plaques! Who really needs a pair of boxers to show you support a certain club? Unless you walk around in just your underwear or wear really low-slung jeans, only a few ‘lucky’ people are going to actually see them.

It may seem from what I’ve said above that I am against all merchandise and replica clothing. That, however, couldn’t be further from the truth – being a football supporter myself, I used to have wallpaper with the club’s logo all over it adorning my room. I was also bought a couple of kits when I was younger, but this was more of a one-off than anything else. I, like most other fans, wanted to show my support for the team, but it’s this innocence that is now abused. Clubs take advantage of genuine, unbridled support and charge stupid amounts of money for the club logo on something that you could get much cheaper but still of the same (or better) quality.

However, there is no bigger example of football now being a money-making business than the ticket prices. Match-day prices aren’t actually that bad – Newcastle United’s cheapest single ticket is just £15 with most other clubs not charging much more. It’s the season tickets that are unreasonable – Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal all charge over £1000 for a season ticket, an average of £53 per league game. The chances are that most fans won’t be able to go to at least one of the games, meaning they’ve spent a lot of money on something they can’t even go to. It could be argued that Arsenal’s high prices are because they’re still paying off their debts for the new stadium, but Manchester City’s season ticket is only £299 and they have also recently moved to a new stadium. Although many clubs have started dropping their ticket prices, they are still charging people a lot of money to watch a game of football lasting an hour and a half.

Football isn’t the only sport to charge too much money for replica kits, tickets and so on – there are many, such as cricket and tennis, that are also very expensive. The problem I have is that football is supposed to be the ‘game of the people’ – it was initially created as something for the working class, yet with the rising prices it seems only the middle and upper classes will be able to access it before long. It’s such a shame that the national sport is no longer just a game; it’s now an entertainment product where businesses can make lot of money by taking advantage of fan loyalty.

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