Football had become a saturated, bloated corpse.
Matches every three days used to be for a portion of a season, including varied competitions.
Broadcast deals were the lifeblood of every football club. And with each round of heavily-negotiated contract, came new demands to meet, new hoops to jump through.
For those billions, you must jump for me. How high? I will tell you.
Fans in stadiums were from a bygone age. Stadiums were now arguably even more utilised in terms of space though. Directors Boxes remained for illustrious guests of the club, like farmers at a cattle market viewing the virile bullocks.
Fan-based supporter clubs and group banners had been taken down and replaced. The real estate was used ‘cannily’ by club owners and rolling advertisements now showcased everything from dog food to toothpaste. Gone were the colourful flags that were billowing symbols of pockets of adoring support.
Instead we had colourful exhibits of marketing.
During the seemingly never-ending flurry of fixtures, the matches were beamed across the world and for ever-increasing sums of money. Fans, now evicted from what used to be the stands, now found it increasingly difficult to find space in football pubs, which were at full capacity as they forked up the exorbitant fees to show the game. To counteract this, drink prices went up. And as these pubs were one of the few places that could stump up the cash to pay the match fee, getting into the pub was nigh-on impossible.
So the disassociation between fans and club was completed. Ties were cut – simply because there was no way for them to see them in action. Not only that, but clubs had mutated from what they once were.
Jumbo screens were not restricted to two corners of the ground. Now, they were the entirety of the top level of stadiums. For just ten seconds of airtime while a game played and the opportunity to see their product featured during a Super League match, companies would pay a kings ransom – which would go a long way to covering the wages of a star player.
And wages had continued to grow. The main expense for every club, they now were unimaginable as agents capitalised on the even bigger torrent of cash pouring into club coffers.
Music played throughout, instead of what used to be a cacophony of noise. Some brave clubs remained, but the old system was strangled out of existence by the collapse of those above. Only the select few had survived as they were picked up by the Super League, leaving those that remained to scrabble together to eke out a poor form of sport.
Grassroots football was now predominantly stubborn fan groups who had formed together in resistance to create ‘rebirths’ of the club they used to adore. Most wound down after a few brave seasons as interest faded when money again became the issue. Demands for fees to merely help these new clubs exist were just too much for fans who just wanted the return of a place to belong on the weekend.
That will be us – just looking for a place to belong.
If the proposed European Super League – discussed by the supposed elite of European Football (Juventus, Real Madrid, Barcelona and six English clubs) – goes ahead, then this future, as fictional as it sounds and is right now, could quite easily materialise.
How far is football from being completely corporated? From minute one to 90, the priority shifts from an entertaining spectacle for fans, to a QVC pitch with a grass pitch in the centre?
And while looking out for the readies did indeed form the super-successful Premier League, there is a ceiling. The Premier League does send a portion of funds to Championship, League One and Two clubs. They do offer an aspirational – and ultimately reachable – dream for players of all stature.
The bottom line though? With clubs currently dealing in hundreds of millions of pounds for transfers, sponsorships, TV deals and rewards? That means that the six PL clubs who have conspired to discuss these heinous plans behind the backs of the FA and the entirety of the PL (the reason they can command such ridiculous figures in the first place) have put the ‘need’ for more money ahead of everything.
They care not for the fans. The football or the fabric of their clubs.
How can they, when they are already worth millions? But want much more?
As a Gooner, we have Dial Square as a representation of our fears and most importantly, what we love. It is an embodiment of the values of Arsenal Football Club – but without the greed. It is a place to go to enjoy a football match and hopefully, become part of what is fast becoming an overlooked symptom of football.