Swindon AdvertiserTHE SAM MORSHEAD COLUMN: Winter Olympics, Uefa's daft decisions and the price of watching STFC (From Swindon Advertiser)

Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text SWINDON NEWS to 80360 or email us

THE SAM MORSHEAD COLUMN: Winter Olympics, Uefa's daft decisions and the price of watching STFC

Swindon Advertiser: Lizzy Yarnold Lizzy Yarnold

I MIGHT not know a goofy from a cant but the past fortnight of winter sport has had me glued to the TV.

I’ve been skiing once in my life, last March, and inside of five days it was quickly discovered that I have neither the natural balance nor the in-built recklessness to make a trip to the Alps a worthwhile venture.

Quite frankly, after twisting my ankle on the second day despite wearing supposedly ‘ankle-twist-proof’ boots, I didn’t have the inclination to pursue the sport any longer either.

But that hasn’t stopped me from watching in awe as some of the most outrageous nutters in the world have helter-skeltered down ice runs at 80 miles an hour, leapt 100 metres onto snow wearing nothing but a less-than-fetching lycra bodysuit and taken on an entire freestyle skiing course backwards.

Furthermore, the Winter Olympics have had the added benefit of not being wholly media censored by super-paranoid spin doctors whose clients generally think they’re several times more important than they actually are.

Out in Sochi, in a country which has been condemned for its human rights infringements, we’ve actually been able to witness a bit of humanity in the Games’ participants.

They’re not marshalled like misbehaving schoolchildren on a year 10 French trip, their eyes shielded from members of a media corps universally suspected of malpractice or malicious intent by sporting governing bodies who just refuse to learn about the industry.

Instead they’ve been allowed to speak openly, honestly and widely about their respective sports - an essential part of the coverage of the unfamiliar half-pipe, Super G and luge disciplines, amongst others.

The likes of Jenny Jones, Elise Christie, James “Woodsy” Woods, Chemmy Alcott, Aimee Fuller, Shelley Rudman and Lizzie Yarnold have educated, promoted and inspired through their willingness to chat with journalists like you would your granny at a family Christmas meal.

Informal, insightful, intelligent conversation, unmediated by scaredy-cat press officers who’ll jump 12 feet in the air at the first mention of anything that doesn’t read straight off a check-list of tired cliches and unconvincing optimism.

Football should take note.

The programming offered by the BBC, too, though not to everyone’s taste, has been entertaining and at times utterly compelling.

It hasn’t boasted the same smooth-edged, shiny-graphicked sparkle as Sky Sports’ coverage of the Premier League - at times it’s bordered on being tacky and amateurish - but that is far from a criticism.

The expert co-commentators employed by the Beeb have used a wealth of knowledge to take the weight off the likes of Steve Cram and Paul Dickenson. Tim Warwood, Graham Bell, Jackie Lockhart et al should be applauded for their contributions. Unrefined, yes, but certainly not unprofessional. And totally engaging, even for a snow-phobe like me.

SEASON TICKETS ARE NO RIP-OFF BUT MATHCDAY FEES REALLY ARE

I’M going to talk about the cost of a fan going to watch a football match now, so for all of you who enjoy sparking off at journalists who have the cheek to comment about paying for a seat it’s probably best you click here and read about the bowls.

This week Swindon Town released their season ticket prices for 2014/15 and, contrary to some opinions I’ve seen flying around in cyberspace, I believe that they are entirely acceptable.
A typical County Ground season ticket will cost around £25 more next term, spread over 10 months interest-free.

Given the ever-rising cost of food, fuel and other more essential commodities, it’s a relevant price hike and hardly on a level with energy companies or satellite TV broadcasters, for instance.
A year’s pass to Town games has fluctuated between £300 and £400 for a good decade, maybe longer. It equates to roughly £17 a game over 23 matches and personally, given the club’s peers and the prices they charge, I think that seems reasonable enough.

Yes, I know I don’t pay to get into the ground myself - I’m sure you would feel a little aggrieved to be charged to go to work - but for many seasons in years gone by I did.
And that is why I continue to watch open-mouthed as the matchday prices around League One continue to rise.

Next season it will cost your average fan £27 to sit in the Arkell’s Stand for a League One ‘gold match’. That’s 33p a minute - slightly more expensive than the equivalent length call to Myanmar but cheaper than 60 seconds on the blower with the girls at Babestation.

It’s ludicrous, given this is the third tier of football in this country.

Pop to the West End and you’d expect to fork out at least £30 or £40 to see a decent show at an established venue. You wouldn’t anticipate paying the same amount at the local AmDram in Covent Garden.

Perhaps the fact that the club’s incurred costs are also rising has to be taken into account, as does its attempt to become self-sustainable.

But fans still need to be taken into greater consideration.

This isn’t a dig at Swindon Town in isolation, it’s more a general observation of the spiralling costs for fans who don’t want to or can’t attend matches week in week out. Another example of the sport losing touch with its roots.

UEFA'S WARPED SENSE OF LOGIC NEVER CEASES TO AMAZE ME

THIS week UEFA refused to allow LFC TV to screen Liverpool’s Youth Cup clash with Watford live because it clashed with a Champions League schedule.

If you weren’t aware of the governing body’s gross ego defect, that sentence sums up succinctly all that is wrong about the European game’s administrators.

For one reason or another, UEFA prefers to take the 1984 approach to sports management and considers it important to dictate which competitions can be televised on any given evening when its own events are running.

It’s the worst kind of depravity - egocentric, utterly illogicial and totally detrimental to the game they are supposed to be trying to protect and promote. Like a drunk Cruella De Vil, UEFA is tripping over its own feet as it dances along on its merry little power trip.

Honestly, unless you are a died-in-the-wool Liverpool fan, with a subscription to LFC TV, it seems highly implausible that you’d be opting out of Arsenal versus Bayern Munich in favour of that particular game.

That’s no disrespect to either the Reds or Watford, of course, it’s simple common sense.
Yet UEFA - the same organisation who saw it fit to dismember the European Championships and spread them across the continent, allowed the European Cup final to kick off at 5.30pm on a Saturday evening and employed two extra officials at either goalline when cardboard cut-outs would have sufficed - see the fixture as a threat to their viewing figures.

Perhaps they would suggest that the number one competition in domestic football should have a captive audience. Nonsense. That’s not promoting football, that’s actively doing the exact opposite.

Instead of preserving the qualities of the game, they are crushing the next generation of footballers who deserve the limelight - even if it is the equivalent of playing the Dog & Duck in Bayswater while the Rolling Stones give a free gig in Hyde Park.

Perhaps they needed to drive up audience numbers to increase revenue for their sponsors and advertisers. The wealthy few are the engine room of the sport now, remember.
Forget prawn sandwiches, this is lobster caviar stuff.

UEFA, like much of the upper rung of the football ladder, is quickly losing touch with consumers as it ingratiates itself with greedy conglomerates. It’s a hideous combination. But it’s here to stay.

Comments (9)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

9:19am Sat 22 Feb 14

Pewsham Red says...

Whilst I couldn't care less about the Winter Olympics and have long since failed to be surprised by ridiculous rulings made up by footballs governing bodies, I am agreement with Sam on ticket prices.

For me, the season ticket has always represented value for money and as such I have been a season ticket holder for over 20 years. Match day prices, whilst they don't affect me directly, have been too high, in my opinion, for quite some time and can only deter the casual punter rather than attract the 'walk ins'.

I know overheads are going up and perhaps this is a way to encourage more season ticket holders, but I think this needs to be reviewed as £27 for some games is extortionate for our level of football.
Whilst I couldn't care less about the Winter Olympics and have long since failed to be surprised by ridiculous rulings made up by footballs governing bodies, I am agreement with Sam on ticket prices. For me, the season ticket has always represented value for money and as such I have been a season ticket holder for over 20 years. Match day prices, whilst they don't affect me directly, have been too high, in my opinion, for quite some time and can only deter the casual punter rather than attract the 'walk ins'. I know overheads are going up and perhaps this is a way to encourage more season ticket holders, but I think this needs to be reviewed as £27 for some games is extortionate for our level of football. Pewsham Red
  • Score: 5

9:53am Sat 22 Feb 14

swindonBill says...

I agree with Pewsham red on match day prices of £27 pounds is expensive
the price rise of a season ticket of £25 per season is just over £1.09p per game is not overly expensive. For a company to know their income for a year
ahead is better for the club than hoping they get 7000 plus crowd on the day.
I agree with Pewsham red on match day prices of £27 pounds is expensive the price rise of a season ticket of £25 per season is just over £1.09p per game is not overly expensive. For a company to know their income for a year ahead is better for the club than hoping they get 7000 plus crowd on the day. swindonBill
  • Score: 4

10:16am Sat 22 Feb 14

Redgollum says...

Pewsham Red wrote:
Whilst I couldn't care less about the Winter Olympics and have long since failed to be surprised by ridiculous rulings made up by footballs governing bodies, I am agreement with Sam on ticket prices.

For me, the season ticket has always represented value for money and as such I have been a season ticket holder for over 20 years. Match day prices, whilst they don't affect me directly, have been too high, in my opinion, for quite some time and can only deter the casual punter rather than attract the 'walk ins'.

I know overheads are going up and perhaps this is a way to encourage more season ticket holders, but I think this needs to be reviewed as £27 for some games is extortionate for our level of football.
I totally agree. But it's not just the gate money. I haven't been to a home game for ages, but saw my first game 50 years ago this month. Then, through the late 60's, 70s & 80s, followed them all over the country. Now I am semi-retired, living in Leicester & rely on public transport. So, a lot on this site regard me as an armchair supporter, which of course I am. The cost for me to get to Swindon & back on the train from here far outweighs the gate money. It isn't an easy journey, especially for someone recovering from a broken hip. I like to have a couple of beers before a game & something to eat, buy a programme & have cup of tea at half time, not unreasonable IMO.
But the £27 will deter the occasional visitor - Those that don't live local enough to go to all games & buy a season ticket, also away fans who have to pay the higher price.
[quote][p][bold]Pewsham Red[/bold] wrote: Whilst I couldn't care less about the Winter Olympics and have long since failed to be surprised by ridiculous rulings made up by footballs governing bodies, I am agreement with Sam on ticket prices. For me, the season ticket has always represented value for money and as such I have been a season ticket holder for over 20 years. Match day prices, whilst they don't affect me directly, have been too high, in my opinion, for quite some time and can only deter the casual punter rather than attract the 'walk ins'. I know overheads are going up and perhaps this is a way to encourage more season ticket holders, but I think this needs to be reviewed as £27 for some games is extortionate for our level of football.[/p][/quote]I totally agree. But it's not just the gate money. I haven't been to a home game for ages, but saw my first game 50 years ago this month. Then, through the late 60's, 70s & 80s, followed them all over the country. Now I am semi-retired, living in Leicester & rely on public transport. So, a lot on this site regard me as an armchair supporter, which of course I am. The cost for me to get to Swindon & back on the train from here far outweighs the gate money. It isn't an easy journey, especially for someone recovering from a broken hip. I like to have a couple of beers before a game & something to eat, buy a programme & have cup of tea at half time, not unreasonable IMO. But the £27 will deter the occasional visitor - Those that don't live local enough to go to all games & buy a season ticket, also away fans who have to pay the higher price. Redgollum
  • Score: 2

10:33am Sat 22 Feb 14

Old-Stager, Hilperton says...

Winter Olympics - Entirely boring and a waste of time.
Ticket Prices - Agree with your comments, especially Matchday prices.
UEFA Issues - I am sure that Sam will eventually achieve his wish of working for the BBC or Guardian Newspaper one day
Winter Olympics - Entirely boring and a waste of time. Ticket Prices - Agree with your comments, especially Matchday prices. UEFA Issues - I am sure that Sam will eventually achieve his wish of working for the BBC or Guardian Newspaper one day Old-Stager, Hilperton
  • Score: -7

10:39am Sat 22 Feb 14

castle9 says...

Yes, whichever way you look at it the matchday price is far too expensive and will definately put people off coming.

Football is all about habit, you have to get people into the 'groove' of coming along every other Saturday. Once they get started, like most on this site, you become a regular. If circumstances change (like Gollum above, children, participation in sport etc) you might go away for a while, but most will come back at some stage whjen circumstances change again.

I would much rather we looked at the the 'volume' approach and get more people through the gate as then you have more chance of retaining customers.

I have a season ticket and regard it as good value, but I would have second thoughts if I was being asked to pay anything over £20 for an individual game, £27 would be a complete no no.

Not everyone's circumstances suits a season ticket, but if they were made available at say £250, even those that would go to half the number of home games would buy one as it would represent a saving.

It would be interesting to know how the Huddersfield experiment of £150 season tickets from a few seasons ago worked. Do they stiill do it?
Yes, whichever way you look at it the matchday price is far too expensive and will definately put people off coming. Football is all about habit, you have to get people into the 'groove' of coming along every other Saturday. Once they get started, like most on this site, you become a regular. If circumstances change (like Gollum above, children, participation in sport etc) you might go away for a while, but most will come back at some stage whjen circumstances change again. I would much rather we looked at the the 'volume' approach and get more people through the gate as then you have more chance of retaining customers. I have a season ticket and regard it as good value, but I would have second thoughts if I was being asked to pay anything over £20 for an individual game, £27 would be a complete no no. Not everyone's circumstances suits a season ticket, but if they were made available at say £250, even those that would go to half the number of home games would buy one as it would represent a saving. It would be interesting to know how the Huddersfield experiment of £150 season tickets from a few seasons ago worked. Do they stiill do it? castle9
  • Score: 0

11:48am Sat 22 Feb 14

Redgollum says...

I started watching the Town 50 years ago this month. My parents had no interest in football, but I was taken by my friend's dad. That was v Leeds & we drew 2-2, but I was hooked. as I remember, it was 1s9d to get in, 6d for a programme & 6d for a cup of tea. My pocket money then, at the age of 14 was 3s6d a week. I lived in Chipp, so had to use the train. My parents wouldn't fund it, so I got a paper round to pay for it all. Of course, when I reached 16, the gate money & the train fare doubled, but I managed to get to most home games & a few away. But I had to do it on my own.
I don't know what a paper boy earns now in Chippenham, but I bet it would be more difficult.
Over the last 50 years, I have paid in, but only because of reasonable prices at the start. So, if the club wants to encourage more support, it has to think about how a 16 year old, living in somewhere like Chippenham can afford it, because these people are fans of the future.
I started watching the Town 50 years ago this month. My parents had no interest in football, but I was taken by my friend's dad. That was v Leeds & we drew 2-2, but I was hooked. as I remember, it was 1s9d to get in, 6d for a programme & 6d for a cup of tea. My pocket money then, at the age of 14 was 3s6d a week. I lived in Chipp, so had to use the train. My parents wouldn't fund it, so I got a paper round to pay for it all. Of course, when I reached 16, the gate money & the train fare doubled, but I managed to get to most home games & a few away. But I had to do it on my own. I don't know what a paper boy earns now in Chippenham, but I bet it would be more difficult. Over the last 50 years, I have paid in, but only because of reasonable prices at the start. So, if the club wants to encourage more support, it has to think about how a 16 year old, living in somewhere like Chippenham can afford it, because these people are fans of the future. Redgollum
  • Score: 2

1:02pm Sat 22 Feb 14

dazinblack says...

Redgollum wrote:
I started watching the Town 50 years ago this month. My parents had no interest in football, but I was taken by my friend's dad. That was v Leeds & we drew 2-2, but I was hooked. as I remember, it was 1s9d to get in, 6d for a programme & 6d for a cup of tea. My pocket money then, at the age of 14 was 3s6d a week. I lived in Chipp, so had to use the train. My parents wouldn't fund it, so I got a paper round to pay for it all. Of course, when I reached 16, the gate money & the train fare doubled, but I managed to get to most home games & a few away. But I had to do it on my own. I don't know what a paper boy earns now in Chippenham, but I bet it would be more difficult. Over the last 50 years, I have paid in, but only because of reasonable prices at the start. So, if the club wants to encourage more support, it has to think about how a 16 year old, living in somewhere like Chippenham can afford it, because these people are fans of the future.
I recall going with my Dad in the 60's, siting on the white benches in front of what is now the Don Rogers stand. I was in the town end when the likes of Rodney Marsh and George Best came did they play for QPR or was it Fulham?
My teenage years we came with the school as mates of mine were in the penalty shoot out competition.
The late 70's and early 80's it was 4 pints at the Kemble Tavern catch train to Swindon hide scarves get a bacardi and pep in the station bar lt ders, (remember when pubs closed?) over the road to the chippy for a chees and onion fryit& chips then into game which was £1.80.
Joined the forces moved away but in 2007 wife suggested I get a season ticket as a 25th wedding anniversary present....well I couldnt say no could I? (she thinks you HAVE to renew it every season )
So as a teenager I was earning £27 a week and £1.80 is 6 percent so now a ticket is going to be £27 I need to earn £450 a week as a teenager???
I think Bradford on their centenary did season tickets for £100. Town did have one of the cheapest season tickets in the country but still didnt seem to get many extra bums on seats.
The problem is people only have so much money to spend so if the ticket price goes up you do without a programme another price increase you go without your tea. The only winner is the tax man! Look at your hard earned pound. He takes 20% income tax so thats 20p, you buy 50p of petrol 60% of that is tax so that another 30p. With your remaining 30p you buy some food of which he takes another 6p in VAT, so out of your hard earned pound he has taken 56p!
[quote][p][bold]Redgollum[/bold] wrote: I started watching the Town 50 years ago this month. My parents had no interest in football, but I was taken by my friend's dad. That was v Leeds & we drew 2-2, but I was hooked. as I remember, it was 1s9d to get in, 6d for a programme & 6d for a cup of tea. My pocket money then, at the age of 14 was 3s6d a week. I lived in Chipp, so had to use the train. My parents wouldn't fund it, so I got a paper round to pay for it all. Of course, when I reached 16, the gate money & the train fare doubled, but I managed to get to most home games & a few away. But I had to do it on my own. I don't know what a paper boy earns now in Chippenham, but I bet it would be more difficult. Over the last 50 years, I have paid in, but only because of reasonable prices at the start. So, if the club wants to encourage more support, it has to think about how a 16 year old, living in somewhere like Chippenham can afford it, because these people are fans of the future.[/p][/quote]I recall going with my Dad in the 60's, siting on the white benches in front of what is now the Don Rogers stand. I was in the town end when the likes of Rodney Marsh and George Best came did they play for QPR or was it Fulham? My teenage years we came with the school as mates of mine were in the penalty shoot out competition. The late 70's and early 80's it was 4 pints at the Kemble Tavern catch train to Swindon hide scarves get a bacardi and pep in the station bar lt ders, (remember when pubs closed?) over the road to the chippy for a chees and onion fryit& chips then into game which was £1.80. Joined the forces moved away but in 2007 wife suggested I get a season ticket as a 25th wedding anniversary present....well I couldnt say no could I? (she thinks you HAVE to renew it every season ) So as a teenager I was earning £27 a week and £1.80 is 6 percent so now a ticket is going to be £27 I need to earn £450 a week as a teenager??? I think Bradford on their centenary did season tickets for £100. Town did have one of the cheapest season tickets in the country but still didnt seem to get many extra bums on seats. The problem is people only have so much money to spend so if the ticket price goes up you do without a programme another price increase you go without your tea. The only winner is the tax man! Look at your hard earned pound. He takes 20% income tax so thats 20p, you buy 50p of petrol 60% of that is tax so that another 30p. With your remaining 30p you buy some food of which he takes another 6p in VAT, so out of your hard earned pound he has taken 56p! dazinblack
  • Score: 0

3:29pm Sat 22 Feb 14

Redgollum says...

The problem is, that, Town seem to assume that all their supporters come from Swindon. But, guys from Chipp, Kemble & the likes make up the backbone of the support.
If you can walk to the ground from your house, then you can maybe accept the increase, but would probably take the option of a season ticket. Guys living 20 or more miles away, with not a lot of money don't have that luxury.
The problem is, that, Town seem to assume that all their supporters come from Swindon. But, guys from Chipp, Kemble & the likes make up the backbone of the support. If you can walk to the ground from your house, then you can maybe accept the increase, but would probably take the option of a season ticket. Guys living 20 or more miles away, with not a lot of money don't have that luxury. Redgollum
  • Score: 0

8:06pm Sun 23 Feb 14

bookiered says...

Last season I paid 19 Euros to see Barcelona play a La Liga game at The Nou Camp. £27 to sit in the Don Rogers watching third division tippy tappy football with no effort whatsoever made to try and score a goal let alone win a match or provide entertainment? What do you think the answer is?
Last season I paid 19 Euros to see Barcelona play a La Liga game at The Nou Camp. £27 to sit in the Don Rogers watching third division tippy tappy football with no effort whatsoever made to try and score a goal let alone win a match or provide entertainment? What do you think the answer is? bookiered
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

Get Adobe Flash player
About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree