Supporters Losing Interest In the English Game
The time has now come for an overhaul of English football and for its governing bodies the Football Association and Premier League to grow a set balls and start leading from the front. There are a number of issues within English football that have been overlooked for far to long, every season as supporters we see new laws & systems which are introduced into the leagues that are slowly killing the sport and the enjoyment of the game.
No matter which industry you choose if there is a lack for leadership or management from the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or the business board members then you will start to see the staff making their own decision, or in other words managing themselves. The proposal of the new European Super League is exactly that, due to the lack of management from the FA and the Premier League the clubs and their owners have made the decision to manage themselves. So now is the time for the governing bodies to take back the management of the leagues and give those six clubs tough punishments such as relegation and large fines.
If the governing bodies are responsible for the laws and management of football and its clubs then the Referee’s Association must be held responsilble for the management of the laws and the players during a match. As with the governing bodies the Referee Association have over recent season started to allow the players to manage the game, it all starts with pushing the boundaries such as not putting the ball inside the arc for a corner and has now grown into diving for a free-kick when another player touches your shoulder. The referee’s must be tougher in implementing the laws of the game, the law says at a corner the ball can be on the line of the arc, but some of the ball must be inside the arc. In most games in the Premier League you will see a number of corners with the ball outside the arc.
I think its fair to say that a large number of football supporters in England are now losing interest in the professional game and starting to turn to local non-league sides in order to get their weekly football fix. I believe this is for two reasons, firstly because the clubs now have no interest in their supporters, it is now all about how much money they can get the supporters to spend. If you compare the matchday ticket prices the cheapest ticket is in France (Ligue 1 – €14), Italy (Series A – €19), England (Premier League – £33). Looking at club merchandise like home & away shirts the cost of production is under £10 whilst Premier League clubs charge between £40 & £70 a shirt.
Secondly, with the games being played behind closed doors for the last twelve months due to COVID-19 worldwide pandemic. Some supporters have lost interest in the game after watching the fixtures on TV, which have been dull and like watching training matches. The introduction of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) has also started to turn supporters away from the game, the length of time it takes to make decisions, whilst it hasn’t resolved the fact that mistakes are still made by the officials and are not over ruled by the VAR at Stockley Park. VAR also takes all of the emotion out of the game, for example supporters can no longer cheer or celebrate as the ball hits the net, this is because it must be reviewed before being awarded. It also takes all of the talking points out of the game that used to be discussed in the pubs after the games across the country.
Perhaps now is the time to overhaul the whole of English football, for example how the finance is split between the professional and non-leagues to ensure that grassroots football can continue in the short term, but also improve and get stronger over the coming seasons.
There also needs to be a reorganisation of the football pyramid to ensure that non-league teams dont have to travel half the length of the country to fulfill their league fixtures. Over the last few seasons we have seen teams such as Gloucester City & Leamington featuring in the Vanarama National League (North) and having to travel as far away as Darlington, York and Bradford which means massive travelling cost for a non-league club.
Video Assistant Referee (VAR) needs to be removed until it can be used to benefit the whole game, just like it is in other sports such as Tennis, Cricket and Rugby were correct decision are made quickly. The final move should see former professional footballs that know something about the game introduced onto the boards of the governing bodies such as Gary Neville who cares about the supporters and the future of the game in England.