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ITHICS Fanzine: The chickens are coming home to roost for the football industry

This pandemic’s proven beyond doubt that football is nothing without fans. But, wonders Nic Wiseman of ITHICS fanzine, are fans falling out of love with football?

ITHICS Column 20/21 Danny Roberts

Our household arrived in the 21st Century this week, when we took delivery of a Smart TV.

Along with Netflix, Prime, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and other catch-up TV services, we also have Now TV pre-installed.

With all these marvels, it occurred to me that we now have no real need for Sky TV.

And that started me thinking... I know, always a dangerous concept.

If others have the same revelation, then the likes of Sky and BT Sport are not going to have the resources to prop-up English football.

By divesting ourselves of Sky TV, we’re saving £60 a month – that’s £720 a year. The cost of four Smart TVs!

We can buy the odd day pass on Now TV if we want to watch the football. So our Sky box has now been mothballed.

The COVID-19 pandemic has concentrated a lot of minds. Watching football being played in empty stadia has the feel of little more than exhibition matches, with extraordinary score lines cropping up with increasing regularity.

Sunderland v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet League One
Football played in empty stadia has reduced appeal
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Not only did Man City capitulate 5-2 to Leicester City in their own back yard, but on the same weekend, Liverpool succumbed 7 (yes seven)-2 to the mighty Aston Villa.

My Villa-supporting mate couldn’t bear to watch the game assuming his team would be on the receiving end of a drubbing. When he checked the half time score, he said he had to double check with another outlet to confirm that Villa were indeed 4-1 up!

And then there’s the Crystal Palace conundrum. Who’d have thought they’d beat Manchester United 3-1 at Old Trafford? Then they’ve been free-scoring, beating Leeds United and West Brom 4 and 5-1 respectively.

I know these are both promoted teams, but defences seem to have gone AWOL in this Premier League season. Except if you’re at the Tottenham Stadium.

Fans are switching off from football. Sean Dyche, the Premier League’s longest serving manager, is worried that fans are falling out of love with the game. But football’s top brass continues to fiddle while Rome burns.

Manchester City v Burnley - Premier League
Burnley’s Dyche worries fans are falling out of love with the game
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The game is not exciting any more. Football needs its fans. Yet the game continues to take them for granted. Witness Chelsea charging the lucky 2.000 fans, £75 a head to be allowed to go back to Stamford Bridge.

As Sky and BT Sport become increasingly marginalised, football needs to put its house in order and treat the fans properly.

But there is little hope of this ever happening. Has there ever been a more self-serving, self entitled industry?

The chickens are coming home to roost in the football world.

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