Obscene season ticket prices to be slashed?

Money_4 News reaches us that Premiership chairmen are going to be forced into cutting 'obscene' ticket prices because fans have just about had enough of being the victims of daylight robbery every weekend, and as a result, football has reached a tipping point.

Two top-flight chairmen have expressed the same view, both of whom predict price cuts all round next season. 'It is a serious issue that has reached saturation point across the country,' said Phil Gartside, chairman of Bolton. 'We feel duty bound to make a stance by reducing the cost for our season ticket holders, and I'm sure other clubs will follow suit next season and listen to public opinion.' But surely the tickets are inflated at the chairs' behest?

This weekend saw ManYoo fans protesting about the amount being charged to let their fans watch their side at Fulham. They were asked for a whopping £45 to watch their team, and that doesn't include travel and grub... although they hadn't got far to travel from Essex eh? Ho Ho Ho... I'll get me coat. A senior executive from another of the Premiership's 'big four' clubs told Observer Sport that prices could not go any higher. 'Officially we are monitoring the situation,' he said. 'But privately we have realised that ticket prices have reached their maximum, at least in the immediate future.'

These warnings come slap bang in the middle of an attendance slump. Despite an increased capacity at Arsenal and Manchester United, the average attendance is down from last year, and whilst the big four continue to sell out their games, the overall Premiership average is down by more than 1,000 year on year and now stands at 32,775, not including this weekend. What is causing fans to stay away? Well, once, you could watch the footy and not dent the wallet too much, and know exactly when you'd be going out. Basically, high prices and amended kick-off times to enable saturated TV coverage aren't encouraging fans to get down the ground. 

Of course, a lot of money is generated by the TV rights, which obviously help clubs to bring in new players and the like. That said, the Premier League negotiated a new £600million, three-year deal for overseas TV rights to the Premiership. Add the £1.7 billion Sky and Setanta will pay to screen matches in Britain, and the £400m for internet and mobile phone rights, and it seems scandalous that ticket prices continually increase. Each club will be getting around £900m per season (starting in August).

Apart from drops in season ticket prices, a group are also want away matches addressed. The Football Supporters' Federation want a fixed price for all travelling supporters. 'Away fans in England are unique. You would not get 5,000 Milan supporters travelling to Juventus. If prices were to stay in line with the Taylor Report's recommendation, then £15 would be a fair price for those who travel to watch their team.' The report, published in January 1990 in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster, stated that 'it should be possible for seating to be £6'. With inflation, that would mean fans paying just £9.60 now, rather than the average of about £30.

So what's the answer? Well, looking at Germany's Bundesliga, the average attendance was approximately 40,000, which is superior to our league matches. In fact, it's about a quarter more fans in through the turnstiles, shouting for their team. German fans can buy tickets for as little as £10 or £15 for all games, and in some cases, terracing is being used, which gives a fan a feeling of real unity, as opposed to the sterile stadia over here. What is interesting is that the Bundesliga is renowned for its competitiveness, with many teams standing a chance of winning it. Should we look at the German model to fix our game? [Mof Gimmers]

February 26, 2007 in Arsenal, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Everton, Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, News balls, Portsmouth, Reading, Sheffield United, Tottenham Hotspur, Watford, West Ham United, Wigan Athletic | Permalink | Comments (2)

Phil Neville is shit, says Nicky Hunt

Irony. Not something that footballers are great at spotting. Want an example? Well, here is Bolton Wanderers right-back Nicky Hunt offering forthright views on Phil 'Newly Hatched Bird' Neville.

[Mof Gimmers]

February 20, 2007 in Bolton Wanderers, Everton, Funny old game, Video clips | Permalink | Comments (3)

Emre in race row again


The FA are to launch a second investigation into claims that Newcastle midfielder Emre used racist language. A newspaper report today alleged the  Turkey international, who has already been charged by the FA with using racially-aggravated language during the defeat at Everton on December 30, made a comment to Bolton striker El-Hadji Diouf during a game at St James' Park in October.

He is alleged to have called the Senegalese striker a "f***ing ape". An FA spokesman said: "We will be looking into these allegations and will be contacting El-Hadji Diouf to see if he wishes to provide us with a statement." The player's agent, Ahmet Bulut, insisted his client is innocent. He said: "This is not a true story." [Mof Gimmers]

February 16, 2007 in Bolton Wanderers, Everton, Newcastle United, News balls | Permalink | Comments (2)

Mark 'Sat-Nav' Lawrenson gives directions to Preston during commentary

Lawro Co-commentator and keen amateur geographer Mark Lawrenson chose last night's frantic FA Cup tie between Bolton and Arsenal to pull up commentator Guy Mowbray on his limited knowledge of northern motorways!

Following Gilberto's skied second half penalty, Lawro commented: "That's well and truly missed. That's on the M61." Mowbray - no doubt eager to join in with some Motty/Lawro style banter - responded: "Might be in Preston by now." But Lawro was having none of it. As quick as a flash he is onto Mowbray: "Wrong way."

This video captures the start of the exchange, but infuriatingly stops short of Lawro's deadpan: "Wrong way." [Rob Parker]

February 15, 2007 in Arsenal, Bolton Wanderers, Funny old game | Permalink | Comments (1)

Message to Big Sam: Oh do shut up

Allardyce_nsimp In the wake of Bolton's 3-1 defeat by Arsenal last night, Sam Allardyce couldn't resist having a pop at referee Chris Foy: 'There were three bookings in the game and somehow, Tal [Ben Haim] has picked up two of them,' Sam said.

'I appreciate he might have pulled Baptista back on the second occasion but there were far worse things that went on in the game than the first one. You can't just look at isolated incidents, you have to see the whole picture and I am disappointed at the way the referee handled it.'

Oh do shut up Sam. Jesus, Foy refereed the game brilliantly – he deserves full credit for his role in a genuine thriller – and had no choice but to send off Ben Haim for a cynical second yellow (which you acknowledge), which could easily have been a straight red.

FACT: Arsenal played you off the park, at home, without Fabregas and Henry, so give it a rest. Wenger's kids were much, much better than your lot, so why drag the ref into it?

February 15, 2007 in Arsenal, Bolton Wanderers, News balls | Permalink | Comments (12)

Big Sam Allardyce has a pop at time-wasting Arsene Wenger

0100457472400 The Arsene Wenger/Thierry Henry/Paul Jewell/Phil Dowd/Chris Kirkland/Mad Jens saga continues to run. Big Sam Allardyce (seen here with a couple of members of the Bolton coaching staff) has hit back at Wenger's time-wasting jibes by claiming Arsenal are just as good at playing the clock as any team.

Read Sam's provocative comments after the jumpy thing…

3373021753089458238 'Arsene has been very clever in choosing to make a little psychological profile of the time-wasting issue,' said Allardyce. 'It is as though the opposition always do it against them and they never do it… But it doesn't fool us and it doesn't fool most of the other managers either because we know they are just as good at doing it as anyone else when they are winning in the final minutes of matches.

'He criticised us heavily for time-wasting when we nearly beat Arsenal last season, so hopefully he will be moaning about us again tomorrow.'

The 'tomorrow' Sam refers to is now today [Wednesday 14th Feb], the date of Arsenal's FA Cup replay against Bolton at the Reebok Stadium. Nothing like stirring the pot, is there Sam?

Essentially, Sam is right, in as much as every professional team time wastes these days, so it's pointless to pick out one team as more guilty than any other. Bolton do it, Arsenal do it, Chelsea do it, Wigan do it, Man Yoo do it etc etc.

And until refs really clamp down on time-wasting (red cards?), all teams will continue to do it.

February 14, 2007 in Arsenal, Bolton Wanderers, News balls, Wigan Athletic | Permalink | Comments (0)

Please can we have some decent match officials?

RennieSo, Keith Hackett wants the BBC to stop criticizing his referees eh? Well, like I said last week, if that's going to happen, we need the match officials to sharpen up a bit. This weekend, much like any other footballing weekend, has seen a couple of incidents that have really stuck in my throat. The first referee under deserved scrutiny is the hapless Uriah Rennie.

Rennie is facing a drop from the Premiership over a glaring error that enabled Newcastle to fight back for a 2-2 draw with West Ham. His mistake in allowing James Milner's goal to stand when Scott Parker was clearly interfering with play in an offside position is also likely to be used as a demonstration video for referees on how not to apply football's most complicated law. If West Ham are relegated by a couple of points, don't be surprised if Uriah takes some heat.

This glaring gaffe was described last night as "an appalling piece of refereeing" by one former official, Kevin Lynch. The referees' chief, Keith Hackett, has a policy of temporarily removing officials from the top flight in such instances and Rennie is almost certain to find himself demoted to the Coca-Cola League for a fortnight at least. "People claim the law is confusing but in this instance it is very clear, leaving no room for misinterpretation, because there was interference," said Lynch. "The assistant was quite right to put up his flag, in my opinion. To overrule him was extremely poor refereeing - a big mistake."

This is where I get angry. Just how acceptable is it to send Rennie to The Championship? Games lower down the league are just as important as the Premiership matches. By admitting that Rennie is incompetent (why else would you demoted him?) it hardly seems fair to send him somewhere else. The only difference in sending him to Coventry (quite literally) is that he will come under less scrutiny. This won't necessarily make him a better referee. Surely a review, then a one-match ban would be more appropriate? Like a player who constantly gets sent off, it would tarnish his career and further suspensions would lead his employers to consider his future at the club. This doesn't happen with officials. They merely get taken out of the spotlight. It's not enough.

In another show of inconsistency, Alan Wiley sent off El-Hadji Diouf for abuse. Now, looking at the footage, it seems that Diouf appealed a decision and then told Wiley to "fuck off". Now, whilst I do agree that players should not abuse the officials, it is interesting to note that during the Man United/Arsenal game, Thierry Henry stayed on the pitch after calling the ref' "a fucking prick" after he failed to win a penalty. In fact, the level of swearing at the ref that generally goes on in Man United games leads many fans to believe that there is a two tier rule book in the Premiership. Wayne Rooney, notorious for giving the officials hell, gets away with it time and time again. Of course, it's not just Manchester United who do this. Every club is guilty of it. Referee's are often surrounded by players debating a decision, but how many result in red cards? Not enough. However, Diouf it would seem, was sent off because his reputation preceded him. Surely, the officials should be approaching the game with a clean slate? UEFA have called for more protection for officials and  I'm not calling for leniency on abuse to referees, but consistency in their decisions. What do you think? [Mof Gimmers]

January 22, 2007 in Arsenal, Bolton Wanderers, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Wigan Athletic | Permalink | Comments (7)

Free travel to football matches

Wewillfollow_1 Fans who have experienced the thrill of an away match will know how addictive it is. The trip down, the pre-match pints in a strange pub, being in a strange ground. It's like a holiday with a football match stuck in the middle of it! However, loads give it a wide berth because they can't get a lift down to the games. Well, you needn't fear that any more.

A website called WeWillfollow aims to stop all that worry and hassle by allowing you to offer and request lifts to games home and away, and it’s completely free. Added to that, the site also has a ticket exchange for fans with a spare. It's all rather nice isn't it? To add to the community feeling, WeWillFollow also have a unique 'Exile List' for each club, so if you've drifted away from your club (geographically speaking) you can register as a member on the site and talk to other exiled supporters of your club. With a list of 1000+ supporters clubs too, you need never feel lonely and exiled again! Have a look and sign up with the site now!

January 22, 2007 in Arsenal, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Everton, Fulham, League One, League Two, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Non League, Portsmouth, Reading, Scotland, Sheffield United, The Championship, Tottenham Hotspur, Watford, West Ham United, Wigan Athletic | Permalink | Comments (0)

David Dunn moves to Blackburn, snubs Bolton, upsets Big Sam

_41539742_dunnSam Allardyce is not best pleased that David Dunn has turned his back on Bolton at the eleventh hour. Dunn had passed a medical at the Reebok and was agreeing personal terms when Blackburn Rovers (who he used to play for) chipped in with a cheeky late bid.

Allardyce said: ' We are extremely disappointed, but there is not a lot we can do about it… I always feel let down when you have got so far down the road spending so much time showing the player this is the best place to be to get his career back on track.'

Dunn left Ewood Park to join Birmingham City in a £5.5m deal in 2003. He only made 27 appearances for Birmingham, mainly because of injury problems. He is expected to re-sign for Rovers for around £2.2m, a fee which is based on appearances.

Blues boss Steve Bruce admits that Dunn never fulfilled his potential at St Andrew's: 'It is a crying shame with the amount of talent Dunny has got that we have never seen the best of him at Birmingham. It is one of my biggest regrets as Birmingham manager.'

With comedy moments like this in mind, why on earth would Bolton and Blackburn want to sign Dunn in the first place?

Birmingham blog Joys & Sorrows seems to think that Blackburn's late, late bid may have been part a crafty waiting game.

January 17, 2007 in Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, News balls, The Championship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Can Anelka repeat his heroics against The Gunners in the 4th Round?

So, the Fourth Round draw for the FA Cup has been made with some tasty looking ties. Notts Forest have been drawn away at Chelsea and will be looking to cause further upset after beating Charlton at the weekend, but the pick of the draw is Arsenal against Bolton. Always a feisty game, with El-Hadji Diouf punching Mad Jens the last time the teams met in the cup, and the last time the teams met... well... this happened.

January 8, 2007 in Arsenal, Bolton Wanderers, Classic Moments, Video clips | Permalink | Comments (0)