Are football fans being taken for a ride?

Chelsea bad kitAfter receiving my weekly email from the Real Madrid store, they kindly informed me that not only could I spend a fair few euros on the Super Copa victory T-shirt, I could also purchase the new third kit –which looks suspiciously like the away kit from last season, and the realisation of just how much money a club gets from its fans each season began to set in.

It’s not just the tickets and travel to matches – which if your team is in Europe can become more than a little bit expensive. If you have a season ticket to a top club it also means that you can be tempted to buy tickets to competitions such as the Capital One Cup – making that amount of money even higher.

All fans want to go to the maximum amount of games that is possible to support their team, but especially in the current economic climate it is not possible to attend every game, buy all the merchandise and still afford to live, eat and support a family.

Uefa and Fifa do not exactly make the process any easier, with the Euros now looking to be spread over a few countries and the Spanish Super Cup set to move to China – how are fans expected to pay for all of this?.

Clubs clearly need to get money from somewhere, and deals for sponsorship are one of the main sources, not to mention the income from TV, but the revenue gained at games and through sales of club merchandise is also a profitable source, and fans do understand this and will happily buy the shirt and spend money on tickets – to a point.

It does seem slightly ludicrous that clubs such as Manchester City and Chelsea are willing to do what can only be described as extorting fans with the prices they charge for said things, and basically put fans in the situation where they have to choose between the away kit or a trip to see the team away from home.

Asking a fan to pay £45 for the shirt, not to mention the badges and a name on the back is bad enough, but then double this for the away and third kit, not to mention any special merchandise for the club winning trophies, then the calendar they try to sell every January and various other pieces of crest related merchandise and you are looking at a pretty steep price for a fan to pay.

Yes clubs have to face up to the FFP rules now, but is it so unreasonable to ask them to keep the home shirt for a couple of seasons instead of changing it each and every year? Fans are happy to contribute to the club they love, but there becomes a point where they are being exploited by the club and football’s governing bodies – and this is where we have to draw the line.