There was never any doubt, or at least there shouldn’t have been, that you do not matter. Neither does the person who sits next to you, behind you or in front of you. Neither does your parent, your sibling, or your children who you attend with. You, the match-going football supporter, are nothing.
It was right there in front of us this whole time and we either did not see it or we turned a blind eye: the television viewer is The King in this game and we, the bums on seats, are disposable pawns. Premier League football makes its money from broadcasting deals and not from turnstile clicks - and money talks.
Your club has, of course, told you that you are special. Words like family are used deliberately to stir emotions of togetherness and loyalty, while the Premier League itself has used you to promote its brand around the world. ‘Football without fans is nothing’, ‘Best league in the world’, roll up, roll up, don't forget to watch it on TV.
The show went on, without the audience, and the cast performed on its global stage to a backdrop of echoes. The King sat at home with fake applause and cheers, gorging on the feast of football. As the deals were shared out between Sky, BT and Amazon the loyal pawns took out contract after contract and spread their finances thinner.
Football is an addiction to supporters and addicts are vulnerable people, there to be taken advantage of by the unscrupulous. First, the Carabao Cup pay per view games appeared. £10 to watch a single game from a single camera angle and we couldn’t resist the hit to see us through.
Newcastle United’s matchday supporters, already paying a silent club for their empty seats, are now in a position of paying three times to watch a game with nobody there. Three times to sit in their own living room and stare at a screen while their club no doubt thanks them for their support.
Our matchday has been taken away from us for many months and we all initially accepted it as a necessary step in the fight against the pandemic. We watched as clubs furloughed staff, announced job losses and managers said the transfer market would be impacted for everyone in the Premier League. We are all in this together.
Then we watched as its twenty clubs spent £1 billion in one transfer window, with £263 million lining the pockets of football agents. 'Giz fifteen quid so we can buy a player!' We are not all in this together.
It seems, though, that the powers-that-be have misjudged this one. Fans do not have infinite resources of loyalty and money and have already been stretched to their limits. There is only so far you can push people before they push back and, with everything else going on in life, this is the straw that broke the camel’s back.
In a time when the Premier League and its clubs ought to be focusing on reward and retention of supporters, they are driven by greed towards recruitment of more kings. Fans, already forced to stay away from grounds, are soon to be forced to stay away from pubs as well. Rather than see us through this period by arranging an affordable alternative, the pound signs have lit up behind their dead eyes.
The pawns are expendable in those eyes and they don’t even have the decency to honour us with silent, mournful grounds. The empty seats, the echoes and the quiet celebrations are brushed over with banners and artificial crowd noise in a perverse pantomime. We mustn’t upset The King, after all.
£14.95: The supporter is dead. Long live the spectator.
Newcastle West End Foodbank Appeal
The tone-deaf, immoral decision of 19 of the 20 member clubs of the Premier League to vote through a £14.95 pay-per-view charge for football matches is a disgrace.
In this time of financial uncertainty for so many and with football fans already not allowed into grounds and paying extortionate prices for TV packages, for clubs to take advantage of the current situation has shown their colours.
Like many Newcastle United fans have already suggested, we will not be paying the £14.95 fee to watch our team play next weekend and will donate this money to a far worthier cause instead.
We urge other fans to join us and send a message to Newcastle United and the other 18 clubs who wanted this - that football fans are not there to be exploited in order to fund their transfers and wages.
£15 will feed three families for a week.
Our club (and the others) have clearly lost sight of what is important and who is important. Well, we haven't, and if you can afford it please show them exactly what this fanbase is all about. Generous Geordies.