• Nathan Smith

JUST THE START: FOUR THINGS FOOTBALL NEEDS TO FIX AFTER SUPER LEAGUE SUCCESS


The football community came together in a big way to quickly rid of the Super League, which threatened to change the sport as we knew it.


This was undoubtedly a big success and a cause for celebration, but the fight for change in football is certainly not over.


There is still so much wrong with the game we love, and it has been proven that when fans come together, things can change.


Here are four more things that need to be changed to make the beautiful game even better…


UCL REVAMP


Getting the Super League out of football is a great win for all fans. However, during all of this, UEFA managed to quietly sneak in their awful new Champions League revamp, which is set to come into action in 2024. UEFA were vehemently against the new Super League concept, and maybe that was because they stand for the purity of football and what’s right and wrong. Of course it isn’t. They were against is firstly because they would lose money, and secondly because they have their own little Super League in the works with these new revamps. The tournament will have 36 teams in it, with almost double the amount of overall games going from 125 to 225, which is great because if it’s anything football needs, it’s more fixtures.


The backlash has already arrived, mainly through Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, who called the new format ‘the lesser of two evils’ in comparison to the Super League. Like the Super League, you do not have to do well in the League to qualify for the tournament, as a strong coefficient will allow two clubs entry into the tournament. So, if you don’t like the Super League, you will also hate this and it is something that football fans need to be aware of, or else it will come into effect in 2024, with little opposition.


ABSURD TICKET PRICES


The debate over ticket prices has been had for many years now, as they seem to have increased a ton, before plateauing to an easy bit of PR at the start of every season. The usual announcement of a club freezing their ticket prices is better than increasing them certainly, but they already cost way more than they should and that needs to be changed. As fans have not been in stadiums recently, I think most fans, including myself will pay whatever to get back to the grounds. However, once the dust settles and we are back in some form of normality, the discussion over ticket prices needs to be reignited. For example, the cheapest adult season ticket you could get at Arsenal during the 19/20 season was for the bargain price of £861.


Another big problem with the ticket prices is the additional fees you have to pay to get to a football match. An away trip can end up costing a whole lot more due to the extortionate train prices alongside the already steep ticket prices. An extra problem people may run into, especially if they support a top flight team, as games are inconsiderately moved for TV, without any thought for the fans. This is why campaigns like ‘Twenty’s Plenty’ are so important, as it helps make football more accessible to the same people who are currently being priced out of going to support the team they love.


MONEY IN FOOTBALL


Money in football has been a growing issue for the past 20 to 30 years. Agent fees are now through the roof, transfer fees are becoming more ridiculous and any decision that UEFA, FIFA and the Premier League make puts the money first. This season, Premier League clubs spent £272 million on agents. That is just ridiculous. The EFL also attempted a wage cap in League One and Two, which was shunned by the league’s big spenders, and was scrapped pretty soon after its enforcement.


Everyone knows footballers make too much money, and while the argument that you should ‘give it to the nurses etc’ is not a good one, there has to be a cap in place. This is because the amount of spending trickles down the pyramid, and we will get to a point where football clubs just cannot cope with the amount of spending, as the ends will not justify the means. Not every club has the mega rich owner, and if it carries on this way, we will see more stories like that of Bury or Macclesfield, rather than the story of Salford.


DISCRIMINATION


Without a doubt the biggest issue, discrimination has somewhat risen in football over the last few years. Maybe it’s just being pointed out more often, but the amount of times we’ve seen a player get racially abused on social media for just playing poorly in a football match is staggering and disgusting. It seems to be a weekly occurrence in football, and that has to change into something that simply never happens. Racism in stadiums is another huge issue, and one that never gets punished correctly, take the Bulgaria vs England game for example. England followed all protocol after players suffered racial abuse from the stands, yet Bulgaria were given just a measly fine and forced to play two games behind closed doors, which was a pathetic show of cowardice by UEFA.


Homophobia is another form of discrimination which is prevalent in football, and while campaigns like ‘Rainbow Laces’ spread an important message, all you need to do is check the replies to any tweet or facebook post announcing a similar campaign and you’ll be able to see that it is still a big ugly part of the game. Sexism in football is another thing that remains prevalent, and instead of me talking about it, I recommend reading these two pieces on what women in football media are forced to face just to do their job.


https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/football-sexism-online-abuse-sarah-everard-b1818366.html

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/melissa-reddy-women-football-sexism-b1819534.html


While this is not just a football issue, discrimination is all forms is hurting football, as it should be a safe space for anyone who wants to be involved, not just for those in a privileged position. How can we call football the beautiful game when discrimination casts an ugly reality across the sport we love?