Guest Post by Safehands
I’m caught between a rock and a hard place … do I renew my season ticket for something for which I’m growing more and more disillusioned or do I stop my time and financial commitment to my football team, a team that I have supported since, well since forever?
Look, I love my football – perhaps I mean my West Ham football as I don’t sit and watch any football that’s on, I watch primarily West Ham … okay, except when we lose – I care too much. When I started going my friend and I were in the queue at 11.15 in the morning so we could get our spot on the wall – we were always second and never ever got in front of the other group (damn them). I’ve been in every section of Upton Park from where I’ve seen some memorable games although thinking about it, most of them weren’t but it didn’t dampen my ardour or the need to go for my Saturday afternoon fix. I just had to be there.
I rarely miss a game and if I do, it’s not because we’re playing badly and I can’t face it but because I’m on holiday, ill or at some friend’s party which has been inconveniently arranged on a home match day. When Sky took over the TV rights and the games started shifting, I still turned up. I confess I did on occasion leave 5 mins before the end … look, I was time poor and leaving just that little bit earlier meant I could save at least 1 hour on my journey (sometimes 1.5 hours).
In our last foray into the Championship, please forgive me but I actually didn’t mind it once the season started. I never wanted us to be relegated and wasn’t too happy playing a contingent of sides of whom I knew nothing. However, I actually enjoyed going to the games as for once, unlike when playing in the Premier League, not only were we the front runners and the team to beat but the crowds at Upton Park were good and full of ‘proper’ supporters, you know, those that wanted to see West Ham and not the opposition (like quite a few do now). We then had the Olympic Stadium kerfuffle – I appreciate a lot think it’s great but to me, it’s not what I was sold – I’m too far from the pitch and feel detached from the game. A few seasons ago a few of us WHTIDers started going to away games and the singing/standing brought home just how much the supporters had lost in the modern game and how away games are so much like it used to be. I understand why all-seater stadiums were introduced, but we’ve moved on from that, haven’t we?
I’ve put all of the above purely because I wanted to place where I am as a supporter, how much West Ham means to mean me and that I’m well and truly stuck. The disparity between football and its fans has been growing, all the more so in the past few years with the latest £squillion poured into the clubs. Also, it’s the power imbalance between a club and its players, money-grabbing agents (and clubs engagement with the system), clubs interaction with (or should I say disregard of) their supporters, an ineffectual antiquated FA, domineering PL, TV companies’ control and, lastly but no means least, football’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. I’m not just talking about wage cuts or furlough but it’s all about the game’s money money money plus the Government’s need to get the game up and running again as they want the distraction to keep supporters ‘happy’ as soooo many of us it seems aren’t able cope with the lack of football. Well as far as I’m concerned, tough – we’re talking about people’s lives here. (Hmmm, I would say it’d put an already creaking NHS under even more pressure but they’ve all got private health care havent they?) Where did that moral compass go?
I was already wondering whether to renew my season ticket which really really wasn’t helped when I read an email the club has sent me last week saying that they anticipate the season will recommence without fans in attendance, so I can either have a refund for the five home games or a pro rata credit towards my 2020-21 Season Ticket which "will be an easy and convenient way for you to guarantee your seat for next season and in doing so also lock in a price freeze for your 2020-21 Season Ticket [depending on which league we’re in], as well as, of course, helping to support your Club through these testing times”. My reaction to that was ‘FFS, me support you? Really? What, support you financially? Morally? Do you know what’s going on in the world? AND it looks like you’re going to put up my season ticket!!! WTF &!/!’.
Football has sold its soul for money – do I want to continue to be a part of it … I still don’t know, should I stay or should I go?