The Football Supporters’ Federation held a demonstration in front of the Le Meridien Hotel in Piccadilly today, following the Premier League’s shareholders meeting. After the Premier League’s newly signed 5.14 billion pound TV deal for domestic rights alone, the FSF are aiming to lobby club owners, chairman and TV executives to “Share TV Wealth”. The increase alone equates to a value 46 pounds per seat for every single Premier League ticket this season.
Their goal is to attain reduced ticket prices for fans, as well as a fairer distribution of wealth amongst the Football League, non-league, and grassroots. The event culminated with members of the FSF handing an open letter detailing their demands — co-signed by fan groups from every Premier League club — to a league representative.
The FSF has campaigned on ticket prices for a number of years. The “Twenty’s Plenty for Away Fans” initiative called for clubs to cap away tickets at 20 pounds: a move which saved 31,807 fans a total of 343,260 pounds last season alone. Throughout the past two decades, football has been flooded with money, reaping massive benefits for owners, players, and agents. It is now time for fans to share the benefits they helped create. The new TV deal is an opportunity for clubs to reduce ticket prices and make the game affordable for all.
Since the meeting, English Premier League clubs have agreed to share a proportion of the enormous windfall: “at least £1bn” of the TV cash injection has been ear-marked for distribution throughout the football pyramid and into charitable causes. Whilst this victory for the disenfranchised majority against the minted minority should be celebrated, this only signals the beginning of the solution, and of a long process.
The pledge of £1bn is a 40% increase on the £700m redistributed in the last cycle – but the most recent £5.1bn TV deal is a 70% increase from the previous £3bn. When the pie gets bigger, everybody’s slice should increase equally. And when the pie is so big – and so sweet – the Premier League clubs can afford to share a lot more than they are prepared to.