Des Kelly: Farcical exodus illustrates FA's serious contempt for football fans

16 April 2011 02:19
The Football Association and some top Premier League clubs are ready to introduce new procedures that supporters must go through before they are allowed to enter any stadium.

Fans will be stopped at the turnstiles, held upside down by the ankles and shaken vigorously until all the cash and credit cards in their pockets drop out. Officials say this will 'save a great deal of time for the customer'.

They might as well. They are already fleecing the public despite a worldwide recession, a collapse in the job market and the fact that many families are struggling to make ends meet.

Wish we were going to Villa Park: We hope it won't look like this for trains into Euston this weekend

This year, the most expensive FA Cup final tickets will cost ?115, having gone up a mind-boggling 22 per cent in just 12 months. Chelsea have also introduced a new top-tier ticket, which pushes prices to ?82 per game, with Champions League group matches rising 33 per cent in some cases.

Stamford Bridge has designated these specially selected encounters as 'AA games', presumably because you will be driven to drink when you see the credit card bill and end up in Alcoholics Anonymous.


Meanwhile, for no other reason than the FA have been lumbered with an ?800million mortgage and must fleece Northerners too, around 120,000 supporters from Manchester City, Manchester United, Stoke and Bolton are being dragged down to Wembley for their Cup semi-finals.

Add the Liverpool fans travelling to the capital for Sunday's league game against Arsenal, the thousands of runners taking part in the London Marathon and the streets of the North West will be so empty this weekend they could resemble a scene from a post-Apocalypse disaster movie (I'll do the jokes, thanks).

  More from Des Kelly. Des Kelly: I'll cut out the curses - Rooney can do it too!08/04/11 Des Kelly: You don't ask for respect. you demand it01/04/11 Des Kelly: Why England will NEVER be winners25/03/11 Des Kelly: Manchester City's maniac Mario Balotelli is no King Eric18/03/11 DES KELLY: One-eyed men, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, are blind to reality11/03/11 Des Kelly: Lunatics really have taken over the game - they must be stopped04/03/11 Des Kelly: Forget art, it's time for silver at Arsenal after all this time25/02/11 Des Kelly: This pair of greedy rats are shamed by Wembley ticket hike18/02/11 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE  But the farcical exodus does illustrate the serious contempt fans are held in as they pay through the nose for the 'privilege' of watching their team.

Supporters have two options this weekend: either jump on a crowded train and experience a level of comfort only replicated by a Mumbai express during rush hour. Or reach for the car keys, sit in a five-hour traffic jam on the M6 and endure punishing motorway service station prices of anything up to ?7 a litre.

And that's just for a Diet Coke. Petrol is ?500.

It would have been a straightforward exercise for United and City to face one another at Anfield or 100 miles away at Villa Park. Likewise, Stoke and Bolton fans could have been spared their needless and expensive trek. But there would have been less cash in it and the FA seem entirely unconcerned that the winners must retrace their giant carbon footprints all over again in a few weeks.

This paper estimated that a family of four travelling from Manchester to Wembley would spend a minimum of ?480 if they sat in the cheapest seats. I could buy a FIFA World Cup executive committee member for that.

Those families would be better off flying to the Mediterranean for the weekend and watching the game on television in the sun. And TV is the option more and more people will undoubtedly choose.

Football at the highest level usually escapes the grip of financial reality because enough fans return again and again to feed their habit with a compulsion that equals any junkie. The difference being if they are forced to wean themselves off the habit, they never go back.

The price of living is skyrocketing. It cost me almost ?100 to fill my tank the other day. (Yes, I drive a tank these days. It helps with that M6 traffic.)

But Arsenal still see no contradiction in the fact that they sit in first place in a table of the most expensive match tickets, even though the team are second best.

Costs over at Stamford Bridge are becoming horribly prohibitive for the traditional support, meaning more tourists wander in, making the atmosphere more like a museum or Madame Tussauds, especially when Fernando Torres is playing.

Desperate times: Clubs like Arsenal are forcing Joe Public away from the stadium with such high ticket prices

So it irritates me when we read how delightful it is that some sheik or oil baron has bought a Premier League football club because it brings new money into the country.

A few players running about the pitch might have seen it, but you don't. You just get to look at the new pieces he has added to his shiny toy and then find you have to pay a bit more to tell him how nice it is.

When a billionaire owner brings down ticket prices dramatically, lets children in for free and reduces the price of food and drink to bargain levels by emptying out his vaults of cash, I'll applaud him.

Until then, I'll do what most of us do. I'll complain bitterly and stand outside the ground with my trusty 'Will Sell Kidney For Ticket' sign.

 After seeing the way Rory McIlroy conducted himself when his US Masters challenge went up in flames like the Hindenburg, I can think of no player I would rather win a major than the Northern Irishman. The 21-year-old was maturity and class personified. It will happen for him sooner rather than later.

Roman, you just don't get it, do you?He was one of those behind-the-scenes lickspittles who had kissed so many backsides his lips resembled those of an anteater that had received collagen injections from Leslie Ash's doctor.

So when I said I was amazed his employer Roman Abramovich had been dumb enough to sack Jose Mourinho, he shook his head, tried a patronising oh-you-don't-understand look, and declared that the Special One had to go because he was 'unmanageable' at Chelsea.

Unimpressed: Chelsea's Russian owner Roman Abramovich continues to be let down in his pursuit of the Champions League

It was an interesting phrase. It seems Mourinho would not countenance his daily business being interfered with inside Stamford Bridge. He would not stand for suits and pen-pushers, or people with pots of money and a poverty of expertise meddling with his methods.

It turns out he was absolutely right not to. Managers should not be managed.

Yet Abramovich still continues to pull the strings of his puppet bosses in his desperate attempt to conquer Europe, leaving them all to deny his interference with a half smile, half grimace, since they know their hefty pay-off will disappear if they dare criticise the owner in public.

Under pressure: Carlo Ancelotti is likely to be the next casualty of Roman Abramovich's erratic reign

Now Carlo Ancelotti is supposedly preparing to clear his desk, with Guus Hiddink, Rafa Benitez or even Mourinho again (a laughable idea) about to take his place.

Obviously Chelsea have benefited from Abramovich's investment. Frank Lampard even claimed the Russian 'deserves the Champions League after all he has given to the club'.

But he deserves nothing if he cannot recognise he has a duty to stand by the managers he appoints and give them time to build a side. Your move, Roman.

 I took part in a television project recently that addressed the topic of gagging orders used by the rich and famous to hush up unwelcome publicity about their private life.

One specialist lawyer revealed that a select band of professional players - some of them married - ensure a pre-prepared writ drops on the doormat of any conquest the very next morning.

This legal letter threatens dire consequences if they reveal the liaison long before any 'super injunctions' are taken out at the High Court.

Such a pre-meditated tactic needs a label. I wonder if it should be called The Morning After Bill?

My Best of Manchester may make you RedName an all-time Manchester team, drawn from United and City players through history, and most of the Sky Blue is swept away by a wave of red.

Denis Law and Peter Schmeichel would make the final line-up, but they both enjoyed their finest hours at United before switching their allegiances to City.

I genuinely tried to find a City legend who could make the team. When the BBC had a go they made room for Colin Bell, but as accomplished as he undoubtedly was, it smacked of tokenism when you consider better Old Trafford contenders didn't make the starting midfield.

Not so true when in blue: Denis Law and  Peter Schmeichel certainly enjoyed their pomp at United, not City

It's not so different in defence, where I've picked Gary Neville in the absence of a better City nominee, and surely nobody would argue with a frontline of Cantona and Law?

In the end, no outright City players made the cut, bar the Law and Schmeichel converts.

None of this matters a jot today, of course, where someone can write themselves into a new page of history, but just for the hell of it, here's my Manchester 'Best' XI:

Peter Schmeichel; Gary Neville, Duncan Edwards, Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra; Cristiano Ronaldo, Bobby Charlton, Bryan Robson, George Best; Eric Cantona, Denis Law.

Subs: Trautmann, Book, Irwin, Scholes, Bell, Keane, Giggs.

I'd like to think this might spark an interesting discussion, but some of you will be shouting at your newspaper right now. To which I reply: I can't hear you. Send complaints to the usual address instead.

 Now we are seeing the damage that David Haye and Fraudley Harrison did to British boxing with their debacle of a 'fight'.

Amir Khan sold just 50 - yes, FIFTY - pay-per-view subscriptions before Sky pulled the plug on his world light-welterweight title defence against Paul McCloskey.

It's staggering when you consider Khan's last contest with Marcos Maidana was one of the most exciting of recent years. His reward is a wave of disinterest and a near non-existent TV profile for this bout. He can thank Harrison and Haye for that.

More harm than good: The dismal bout between David Haye and Audley Harrison has undoubtedly damaged pay-TV boxing

 Credit where it's due: Footballers deserve high praise for their charity work

When five-year-old Jack Marshall visited Manchester United's training ground the squad welcomed him royally.

Little Jack is being treated for a brain tumour and other complications in a brutal introduction to this world.

But as he lay on his sickbed he asked for a peck on the cheek from Wayne Rooney.

It was given without hesitation and his family grabbed the snapshot you will have seen on our back page yesterday. I'm glad they did.

Footballers do plenty of work for charities and local communities and don't always receive any credit; instead the focus is often on their f-ing indiscretions.

So it is well worth redressing the balance a little, while reminding ourselves that boy's unquestioning adulation shows why there is an obligation on those players to set an example in public.

 Mayhem of the FA Cup! Travel chaos fear as fans flock to WembleyFinal insult for fans as Cup prices for Wembley rocket to astonishing ?115

 Explore more:People: David Haye, Amir Khan, Rafa Benitez, Fernando Torres, Frank Lampard, Jose Mourinho, Cristiano Ronaldo, George Best, Denis Law, Bryan Robson, Wayne Rooney, Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand, Roman Abramovich, Leslie Ash, Gary Neville, Carlo Ancelotti Places: Liverpool, Manchester, Mumbai, Europe, Mediterranean Organisations: Football Association

Source: Daily_Mail