Football attendances across the country are on the decline, and we're no different. At the time of writing we've sold around 700 tickets for Everton (still 400 more than last season I suppose) and home tickets aren't being snapped up either. Being the curious type, I have to ask - why?
1) It's all about the money. Ticket prices are still getting higher and higher with the likes of Chelsea and (er) Birmingham charging as much as £45 just to get in. Combined with the costs of petrol, food and drink, a programme, a bet - a couple of people and you're easily looking at £150 for ninety minutes of "top quality" entertainment.
2) The media hype is finally starting to give way as a lot of matches just aren't that exciting in the Premiership, hence the cunning use of quotation marks with "top quality" just above. Look at some of the games Sky broadcast for example; I wouldn't watch them on TV let alone pay money to go to a ground and see them. Blackburn vs Fulham, Charlton vs Birmingham, Middlesbrough vs Wigan - these are not glamour ties. No wonder a lot of grounds are now struggling to get 25,000 when so many of the results are either formalities or your team are guaranteed to be defensive because the pressure of losing is so great.
3) The country is still in summer sports mode, especially with everyone going Cricket Crazy. With the promise of cricket being the "new football" (just like rugb.... oh) it's inevitable a bit of interest will drop off. Wait until the long winter months and everyone will be donning their scarf and big coat, braving the rain and getting back in the stands. Summer usually sees a bit of a drop in football attendances.
4) Although we haven't been playing too badly, the facts show four games, no wins, three goals. Crowds want excitement and a winning team; just look how storming the First Division Championship brought a few thousand new season ticket holders out. We've had a low-key start so the masses are yet to really pick up interest.
5) We haven't played any of the big teams yet either, and you can guarantee that just like last season the Chelsea and Arsenal games will be sold out well in advance, whilst tickets for other games go slowly. But that's the age we're in now where people have to pick and choose due to cost and, surprisingly, if they get the choice between Blackburn and Manchester United, they choose Manchester United.
6) Although there were days not so long ago when we took gates or 20 or 30,000, it seems that our current average ticket buying support numbers around 15,000 at home and 1,000 or so for away games. With the rise to the Premiership and the chance to see new grounds, new teams and big name players, it went up. But now people are simply getting bored of the Premiership and so interest is going to dwindle. As a football club you can rely on certain things to drag in the crowds; we're currently in the lull between "New League Effect" and "New Stadium Effect" (hopefully).
7) It's a general rebellion against the over-commercialised, money obsessed Murdoch-driven world we're living in. Rio Ferdinand, for crying out loud. He trains a bit in the morning, a bit of golf in the afternoon, gets to run around in front of thousands with their awe and respect and yet wouldn't sign a new contract because he was "only" being offered £90,000. A week. Which your average football fan (hell, average person) would be more than happy to earn a year.
So what's the way forward? Form your own club like AFC Wimbledon and FC United, take it "back to the streets" and go back to what football was all about in the first place (so I'm told, I wasn't around when they invented it) - going to the game with your friends and enjoying yourself? Is it time to take a stand against Sky, against the Premier League and against the money making demons and say "NO MORE"! The time to finally put aside club differences and rivalries, for all football fans to come together and reclaim the game which has long since been stolen, abused, bent and twisted so it's no longer recognisable and handed out in half-an-hour slots on a pay-per-view channel at silly times? Time to boycott games, boycott club shops and get the game back to those who own it? TIME FOR THE REVOLUTION AND THE UPRISING OF THE SUPPORTER?
Or, alternatively, I'll just go and print off the directions for Goodison Park this weekend. Less effort.