British telecom were successful in their bid to televise live English Premier League football, this in effect means that BT are taking over ESPN's position as joint provider of Premier League football coverage for Three Seasons starting with 2013/14 season. The deal? £1.01Billion a season for 3 years.
It's clear what that means for clubs, players, agents and Luxury goods stores but what does it mean to supporters? My guess: higher subscription rates for TV packages and as season ticket prices will continue to rise those that can't afford their season ticket will probably not be able to afford SKY/BT packages. The result? Pubs full on match days & half empty stadiums.
There is already a growing trend of empty seats on match days and the full pubs that would empty ten minutes before kick off remain full for the duration of the game. The average supporter, regardless of if they own a season ticket, is turning to alternative ways of watching the game. Already, with foreign satellite feeds, games can be watched that are supposedly not available for broadcast if you know the right Pub. Often it is cheaper to go to the local pub and have a few drinks than the cost of travel and refreshments at the ground, even if you have a ticket. Season tickets are a source of income for a number of people who can get a good price for their seat on a fixture they can’t attend or don’t want to.
It is more than just pure economics; it’s a reaction to the cynical and bloated nature of the game. The customer formally known as supporter can only be squeezed so far and the unquestioned loyalty that clubs feed on cannot be taken for granted: you can’t get blood from a stone.
So stadiums with swathes of empty seats and full public houses could be the face of the Premier League in the 2013/14 season. The nations game, the working man’s game could become the sole province of Corporate boxes, Match day packages and tourists. That’s what happens when you price out the lifeblood of the game. Those men and women who make a lifelong commitment to a club and are there through thick and thin are being gradually marginalised by unbelievable and unethical pricing structures and for a long time the clubs and the Premier League have got away with it. That is changing, which I can vouch for from my own match day experience, and it will escalate. Non-attendance will be the result and at the moment the clubs aren’t overly worried about that, after all they get the Lion’s share at the start of the season through Season Ticket renewals. As long as they have a full stadium on paper they can rely on the corporate money from executive boxes and match-day packages and peripherals, such as Pop concerts and International friendlies to generate income. In theory the top clubs can afford to play matches in half empty stadiums for a considerable period before making changes.
So, pubs full with supporters and stadiums half full with customers: that’s the future for the gluttony game.