December 4 2013 Latest news:
Friday, January 25, 2013
As a football fan it’s hard to watch your team take a thumping, but City’s abject surrender at Anfield was the sort of performance that I hoped we wouldn’t see again this season, and inevitably it generated some extreme reactions.
Probably the most notable of these was the fan who contacted David McNally via Twitter to demand a refund of his ticket price because City had been so poor.
While no one could possibly argue that it was anything other than an abysmal performance, football is all about highs and lows.
Saturday was a real low, but only by experiencing those lows can you fully appreciate the highs, something we’ve had plenty of in recent seasons, and the players don’t set out to perform badly.
While I realise that the modern ethos is that if something bad happens someone must owe you money, that was a step too far.
Just as an aside, I wonder if the person who wanted the refund sent the club a bonus payment for performing exceptionally well against Arsenal and Manchester United? I suspect not.
No one makes us pay to watch football; it’s our choice, but I suspect that the Tweet in question might never have been sent were it not for the fact that the Liverpool debacle was immediately preceded by the announcement of next year’s season ticket prices.
Inevitably, reaction to an increase in excess of inflation has been mixed, with some people feeling unable to renew. That is always sad (although it’s good news for the masses on the waiting list) but the hard fact is that demand has greatly exceeded supply in recent years, creating an environment where the club can make such an increase while still being sure of filling the ground each week.
However, City are still one of the more limited Premier League clubs in terms of wage structure and transfer budgets. While the financial situation is improving all the time, the simple fact is that the club is only three years on from standing on the brink of administration and none of us want to see it head back along that path.
Given the fact that City doesn’t have backers with the apparently unlimited resources of a Roman Abramovich or a Lakshmi Mittal, the only way to continue to progress is for the club to maximise profitability and channel as much as possible into the playing budget. Of course, this is exactly the model that the current board at Carrow Road has adopted.
There is an inherent paradox here, however. On the one hand we have fans demanding high quality signings and on the other complaining about the increasing cost of watching the team. While that’s human nature, we can’t have it both ways and bigger transfer fees have to come from somewhere.
I’ve seen a number of people quoting the greatly improved TV package for next season (assuming that City remain in the Premier League) as an argument against price rises, but it’s something of a red herring. Yes, it will give City a big financial boost, but it will give exactly the same boost to everyone else in the league.
What will help, of course, is the repayment of the outstanding external debt, but even then City will still lag behind the big names in terms of financial muscle. Other than taking on more potentially crippling borrowing or finding a mega-rich backer who wouldn’t sell the soul of Norwich City (a virtual impossibility) the club can either go back to the bad old days of selling off our best players or maximise income and profitability wherever it can.
That, unfortunately, means higher prices, but it’s no comfort whatsoever to those who can’t afford them.