Oldham shock the Premier League Champions but at what price?
Taking a quick look down the team coach that made the short journey to Boundary Park and a lot of the faces were recognisable to football fans all over the country. The 2-1 victory should instil pride into the Oldham players.
Given that the majority of City’s true superstars were abroad on tour it is only because of the European Championships that the likes of Joe Hart, Joleon Lescott, Gael Clichy and Nigel De Jong were not also in theFar East. However, these are top footballers and these players made this friendly worthwhile from Oldham’s perspective.
The friendly drew a crowd of 6,589 of which just over 3,000 were City supporters.Oldham probably made in the region of £150,000. The 12/13 has yet to officially start so it is an excellent bonus, no doubt about it. The club’s owner, Simon Corney, will be thanking every supporter in attendance last night. However, I was not one of them. From the moment news broke of this exciting friendly was arranged I sensed its nasty intentions.
Sure enough, admission prices were set at £15. That piece of news split supporters. On the one hand the pragmatic minds pointed to the fact that £15 in modern-football terms is certainly value for money if you want to see some very gifted footballers. However, with only half of the attendance home supporters there were few shrewd minds.
The simple fact is that the club hiked the price of entry 33% because the latest valueless superclub was in town. The club was stooping down to a certain level that incenses supporters of old-fashioned small clubs: using its loyal fans to make an extra buck.
In my mind, the club also committed a second sin. By agreeing to play Birmingham Cityto cancel in favour of a more lucrative tie suggests my club is now willing to pander to the clubs that I resent. Oldham fans, no doubt like many other supporters of clubs in Leagues One and Two, criticise football’s workings. Clubs like Oldham Athletic are being repressed, they are being strangled financially – which perhaps draws a little sympathy from me as to why Corney pulled such sly stunt by cancelling on Birmingham and plumping for City, but isn’t that attitude the very problem?
How can the business of football change when too many supporters and clubs are willing to benefit from the superclubs, while attacking their every decision? You then get mauled from within by supporters who criticise you for not supporting your team. In my view, my refusing to attend last night’s game I was supporting my club. Making a few quid off a friendly will help Oldham in the short term, but in the long I suspect we will lose a lot more from a loss of local support who would rather see the club ten miles away succeed.
What about the Elite Player Performance Plan? The way the Premier League was allowed to lean on the fragile, powerless Football League and bribe them to extract talented youngsters for fees that would not even cover the week’s outgoings was an abhorrent example of the PL’s arrogance. How it crept under the radar is baffling. No more willCrewe, famed for the excellent youth academy and production line, be able to command fees for players such as Nick Powell, who recently moved to Manchester Utd for £4million.
Making a quick £150,000 will help for now, but when youngsters are allowed to go for a tenth of their true worth after two years of development will only serve as another slash to the fragile-state of some of England’s brilliant traditional football clubs.
Football fans in England forget the power they possess. Some have the opinion that we cannot influence the way football now runs and conducts itself. Rubbish. History teaches us that when the collective have wanted a change, when angry enough they have achieved a change. Take away supporters at the weekend, and 95% of England’s football clubs would be dead within a month.
Friendly or not, 3,000 home supporters for the visit of the Champions? I have a sneaking suspicion it wasn’t just me staging a mini-protest last night. Good on them.
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