TV, Football, and Classism – “Every football supporter should watch this,” Stan Collymore

We often as a support complain about the hold that television companies have over the beautiful game and it’s becoming more and more frequent within this framework of TV and sport that supporters are becoming a mere afterthought. There have been several instances already this season that back up this supposition that to the telly folk, we are merely colourful background noise.

Roy Keane of Celtic runs onto the pitch for the Scottish Premier league soccer match against Kilmarnock at Celtic Park January 14, 2006. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

When Roy Keane had a go at a certain section of the Manchester United (I use the term loosely) fanbase, in the infamous “prawn sandwich brigade” dig, little did we all know that this was about to become a consistent feature within the game in the years since. Cup finals and big occasions like the World Cup, Euros or indeed UEFA Champions League finale’s and penultimate games see a continuous line of corporate entities get their grubby paws on tickets that should be for the everyday fan, which is the lifeblood of the game we love so dear.

The amount of tickets dished out every single year at Hampden for these events is scandalous and is depriving people who shovel every brass farthing they have into supporting their respective team far and wide, the opportunity to see their team reach the end goal after a long season of football. These corporate elites serve nobody but their own self-interest and like to strutt their stuff on sunny days at national stadia worldwide, acting as if they are somehow responsible for these wonderful events and should be given pride of place as a result.

Backslapping on a grand scale. It’s sickening.

Meanwhile, loyal supporters who have given everything and more are denied the opportunity to see their team lift a cup. Keane’s sardonic remark was not the only ominous precursor for what we are seeing in Britain right now when it comes to working-class football fans being locked out by a tiny elite that wish to bend the rules for their own liking. Stan Collymore, former England and Liverpool striker posted on X (formerly Twitter) today a snippet from the BBC Archive, which was a documentary on football just as the Premier League was beginning to kick-off and the mammoth fees becoming the new normal.

This is the tweet below and it’s well worth a watch…

He captioned it with “30 years ago. Every football fan should watch this.”

And how right he is.

The average working-class football fan is now facing possible extinction up and down these isles because the prices are just too exorbitant to keep up with. In Germany, they had the right idea of how to deal with this and capped tickets at a certain price so as not to allow supporters to be ostracised for not being really wealthy.

Television and the men who decide the ticket prices in this country are cut from the same cloth and care not for the match-going man or woman these days. They have decided we are persona non grata because we are poor. If something doesn’t change soon like this documentary from 30 years ago says, it will be cold, corporate stooges and those who don’t really like the atmosphere and drama of football that will be the only ones that can afford to go.

They will pay little-to-no attention to the football being played and will be instead focussing on the champagne and hot meal provided in the club deck, where they can live up to the chattering classes tag, all whilst discussing how they can milk and marginalise working people more.

It’s still in our hands. We are the many, they are the few. Remember that!

Paul Gillespie

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About Author

I'm a Garngad Bhoy through and through. My first ever Celtic game was a friendly against Italian side Parma at Celtic Park, in 2002. Currently a student of English Literature and Education at the University of Strathclyde for my sins. Favourite game would be a toss up between beating Manchester United with that Naka freekick, or the game against the Oldco when Hesselink scored in the dying seconds. I'm still convinced Cal Mac is wasted playing that far back.

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