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Submitted by Matthew on Sun, 21/02/2010 - 11:29

Like Martin, I'll put my cards on the table to start with: I am a Manchester United fan and whereas before the Glazer takeover I regularly went to home matches I don't now. Partly this is based on principle but mainly it's cost: £50-75 for a ticket as opposed to £20-30 a few years back.

There is some truth both in what Martin says about the 'I'm alright Jack' attitude of big clubs and the supposedly democratic basis of European clubs in reality being a beauty contest between rich lawyers running for president.

I've heard concerns about overseas owners at Chelsea, Liverpool and both Manchester clubs dismissed in 'foreign' versus 'local capital' terms. That might be a stick to beat Stalinists with but doesn't grasp the dynamic that existed before between owners and fans: the former were usually local businessmen and fans of the club. They were investing money and making a profit for sure but in clubs they had supported from childhood, earning them prestige in the community. They were thus much more suspectible to community/fan pressure in terms of ticket prices or player transfers than someone who is effectively the branch manager of a global corporation. Not being part of a global corporation, there was not the possibility of either siphoning off money to prop up other parts of the business or asset stripping (Manchester United) or pouring in huge sums not generated by the club itself (Chelsea and Manchester City). It's true that big city clubs (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United) dominate English football because of their large attendances and latterly TV and merchandising revenues. But that's been the case since the 60's when the maximum wage was abolished and the currently huge gap between players' and average workers' wages began to open up.

Part of the answer would be a salary cap as exists in both American sports and rugby league where there is a set amount clubs can't go above in players' wages, thus levelling out the competition and keeping ticket prices affordable. In rugby league the amount is currently £1.6m a year which means I now pay £18 on the turnstile to stand and watch Salford rather than at least £50 to sit at Old Trafford.

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