TV Money Rules Football – But Fans Who Attend Are Still The Most Important

Last night I tweeted a few facts from Arsenal’s accounts for the year ended 31 May 1975, that @Gooner_AK gave me a copy of. It’s fascinating to compare the numbers with those we have now.

Arsenal’s Cash in hand and at bank was £1,215 on 31 May 1975. No, there are no missing zeros – it was really one thousand two hundred and fifteen pounds! In 2012 this had risen to £153,000, tweets on money in 75

In 1975 the total wage bill for the year was £413,160. That’s for everyone! The whole staff. That’s less than a sixth of Abou Diaby or Chamakh. If Wayne Rooney signs, he’ll be asking for twice as much as that total EVERY MONTH! Unbelievable.

In 1975 Arsenal were paid £9,954 for TV appearances. In 2012 this had risen to a staggering £84m. Meanwhile gate receipts for the season were £528k in 1975, and £95m in 2012. The obvious and correct conclusion is that football has become far more reliant on TV money in the intervening time. Tim of @7amkickoff was moved to tweet back to me that “Soon foreign TV contract money will dwarf gate receipts at Arsenal, meaning that my viewership will matter more than your attendance” (Tim is American). He went on, “TV money already makes up the vast majority of budgets for non-top four clubs. I always tell Stoke supporters that me watching their shite on telly matters more to their club’s survival than them attending games at their shithole.”7am tweetsTim makes some good points, despite his gutter language and odd use of the word ‘telly’, which I thought was only a British thing (and quite a lame British thing at that).

Anyway, Arsenal with their massive stadium and equally massive prices are one of the few clubs still making more from gate receipts than TV right now, but as Tim says that is changing. Within two years TV money will overtake gate receipts at Arsenal too.

But what of Stoke and their like? Well it’s not really so much that foreign viewers have to or even want to watch them, more that their games come as part of the PL deal with the clubs that everyone DOES want to watch. For that they can be grateful that the big clubs want to maintain a semblance of competition by having collective bargaining on broadcast rights – if you want Man Utd and Arsenal you also have to get Stoke, Hull and Norwich.

Another point is that millions of people around the world have to want to watch the Premier League for Stoke to benefit, and Tim is just one of that multitude, but only 25,000 need to turn up at the Britannia Stadium to create what passes for an atmosphere there, so as individuals those who attend are still more important than Tim (sorry Tim).

As Sumit Bhardwaj tweeted back as well, TV audiences don’t generally like to watch football in empty stadiums, so that’s another reason why the fans who attend are still the most important, no matter where the money is coming from. No crowd in the stadium, no TV money anyway.

This is not to have a go at overseas fans at all, or doubt their passion, but someone still has to go to the stadium on a regular basis or the whole thing falls apart. Even I don’t go nearly as much as I used to, so from an attendance point of view I would hardly be lecturing anyone there.

If you have an opinion on the money in football, whether Wayne Rooney’s wage disgusts you or you think too much is not enough, take a look at this film project, and get yourself involved. The filmmaker is looking for fans to send pictures of themselves and share their thoughts. You can also watch this video to find out more.

Follow me on Twitter: @AngryOfN5    


15 thoughts on “TV Money Rules Football – But Fans Who Attend Are Still The Most Important

  1. No matter how passionate you feel sitting in front of your PC in Nigeria, Indonesia or the USA, football will cease to exist without the locals. So, don’t delude yourself that your support matters as much as theirs. Instead, attend your local games and support your local teams.
    Frankly, I find the entire idea of people supporting clubs thousands of miles away from them just because they are successful, absurd.

    • Arsenal fans are arsenal fans any where you they come from condescending idiot and I was born and raised in north London.

    • The thing is that London is not Wigan or Brigton or whatever. It’s not only a city of 8 million people in a football mad country, it has vast swathes of heavily populated suburbs…..and its also one of the world’s most visited tourist cities. As such, Arsenal can fill its new, and very comfortable 60,000 seat stadium quite easily on any given saturday, as long as it plays attractive football.

      Arsenal does so at current ticket prices and should demand drop off, it would take a fairly small drop in ticket price to attract people to attend games.

      Otherwise AST would have a long time ago used the threat of a boycott to try and get some influence. But there is no such threat.

      So really in the modern game its the people with wide open wallets on Sky, the Swiss broadcasters, the Scandinavian broadcasters etc that matter the most, much more than the “locals”. And the people advertising their companies. We dont need to drag in Indonesia or USA or Nigeria as diversions. There are pay TV subscribers and corporate advertisers who matter more than anyone in Islington.

      Sad but that’s the modern game.

  2. Every fan matters. Simple as that. Local fans matter more definitely as the stage is there. However, international fans contribute to the growth of sports and teams. Otherwise, ManU, Barca, Madrid etc wouldn’t be as marketable as they are today. The argument that one should support their local teams is stupid in the present day.

  3. Eventually television will control the game completely and the “right” kind of supporters will be paid to attend matches and probably sing songs written by Sky and its ilk.

  4. Anyone would think this was written by Arsen Whinger.
    The arrogance of people like you is truly astounding.What makes you think anyone wants to watch Arsenal on T.V along with the likes of Utd or City or Chelsea?
    Arsenal fans are some of the worst in the EPL.
    28000 Stokies make a great atmosphere, 50 odd thousand Gooners do their best to re-create the Highbury library.( and succeed)
    Then again Stoke is a local club, owned by a local family and supported by local people.

    • I think I caught some of your fans on tv last night. Brave lot you are to deal with those mammoths and sabre-tooth tigers

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