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The Price of Football - In Response to Neil Bonnar

LOV and our friends at the FSF respond to a contentious article from the head of sport at the Evening News

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

So our friend (not really) Neil Bonnar, from The Bolton News, wrote this half-thought out piece last week - you can read it here, if you like. In it, Bonnar decides that football fans who complain about ticket prices are, somehow, in the wrong. It's a bizarre opinion shared by precisely nobody.

We at Lion of Vienna Suite have decided to write a collective response to Bonnar's piece, we even asked what the Football Supporters Association had to say too:

Liam Thompson, Communications Officer at Football Supporters Association:

The BBC's Price of Football survey shows that the alarming rise in ticket prices here over the last 25 years is beginning to slow. This is partly due to fans keeping the issue in the spotlight. The encouraging thing for us is that dedicated campaigning by supporters over the last two years is beginning to have an effect. It's time clubs recognised their commitment.

"But football remains expensive. We can't pretend football is a market, most fans inherit their team and they can't shop around for another - so we see fans' loyalty being exploited.

Clubs could do much more to make live football more affordable."

Rob Latham - LOV Writer

Neil Bonnar's clueless comments on the price of watching football completely undermine and threaten to devalue the work that supporters across the country and groups like the Football Supporters' Federation are doing to lobby the footballing authorities.

His statement: "

What is it about the price of pies and tea that football is so obsessed with? I don't know about you but I've not had a pie at a game for 30 years and I've never had a cup of tea at one"

reeks of a man that hasn't paid to get into a football match in years and is completely detached from those of us that do week after week. Well actually Neil, the BBC surveys this because MILLIONS of fans do like eating pies after having a couple of pints before kick-off every weekend. We are normal, football loving supporters and that's what we do - pies, cups of tea, pints of beer and cups of Bovril are an English tradition and that's why we are obsessed with the price of them being consistently hiked up.

Does it matter that a multipack Pukka Pie that probably cost the club about 50p to purchase is sold to fans for upwards of £3? Does it matter that ticket prices are consistently on the increase? And does it matter that a replica shirt that cost a pittance to create is sold for £50? To a man who gets free tickets whenever he fancies going to watch Bolton, probably not, but to me, you and all the other Bolton fans that watch our side home and away, of course it bloody does.

I'm not sure what the overall point of Bonnar's article is. He goes on to discuss people watching football on their laptops at home and how that is ‘free' for them. Yes we all probably do watch football at home, be it on Sky Sports or on dubious websites from various corners of the globe, but obviously we can't go to every match that we want to watch. And if you're a Bolton fan, you certainly can't watch your side from the comfort of your favourite armchair. I like watching football on TV, but nothing comes close to being at the stadium to cheer your side on with your fellow fans win, lose or draw.

Frankly, the people Bonnar describes in his article are probably supporters of big clubs that either can't afford Premier League tickets, can't get tickets due to demand, or can't be bothered to go and support their side. So I question what he's getting at with these dragged out comments.

Seeing a ‘journalist' criticise promotion of the rising prices supporters have to pay to watch football is hugely galling given the great work that people are doing to make fans' views known - especially as he suggests it's totally irrelevant to him.

Bonnar needs to learn to keep these thoughts - whether he actually believes them or not - to himself, and let the fans voice their own views on whether we think a pie, match programme, replica shirt or match ticket is too expensive or not.

Eddie Skelly - LOV Writer

Firstly, Neil Bonnar criticised the FSF'S twentys plenty campaign, stating 'just don't go'. Now, he's continuing to distance himself from the very fans who he writes for.

Fine, you've not ate a pie in 30 years, that's your prerogative. But why write such a statement when staples of football such as eating a pie for having a cup of tea are still as relevant as they have been for decades?

I mean, when the club in the town you write for has a man dressed as a pie at home games, your views make even less sense.

The cost of drinks, pies, tickets matters as it all adds up to the matchday experience.

Also, football fans can't all be summarised under one roof. The fans you describe are more like Premier League fans rather than teams in the Football League. Fans of the 72 and below can't just sit at home and watch. A proper matchday experience could never be trumped by a laptop.

There's no point in alienating your audience with your one dimensional views.

Chris Manning - LOV Editor

So Neil wrote:

WHAT is it about the price of pies and tea that football is so obsessed with?

It comes out once a year mate - in the same way that decent Neil Bonnar articles do

They are always there, like two old stereotypes, when any survey is done on the cost of going to games.

I don't know about you but I've not had a pie at a game for 30 years and I've never had a cup of tea at one.

Nobody cares Neil - what has your matchgoing preferences have do with anything?

BBC Sport kept tradition alive, however, when they included them in their Price of Football Survey released yesterday.

It was almost as if they had to find something to include as there were only five things on the list.

It is a bit thin, but then again that sounds familiar - did you employ a similar approach to your article?

One was actually relevant, the price of tickets, while replica shirts and the old faithful programmes made up the list.

So three of the biggest expenses a fan can face, eh?

Unfortunately, the second biggest cost of going to games wasn't included - travel, but hey ho.

The upshot of the survey was as predictable as the items compared, that it costs as much for a lad and his dad to go to the football as some small nations' total gross domestic product.

Oh Neil, come on. I know you have a flimsy grip on reality but let's not get silly.

But it seems it's not like that for some people.

There is an army of people who have stopped going to Premier League games but still follow their team.

These fans no longer feel the adrenalin rush seeing and hearing the game live and the longer they go without experiencing it the less they need to.

And they have often had a bad experience on the odd occasion they decided to bite the bullet and pay the outrageous cost, having been stuck in the worst seats in the house.

You can count on one hand the number of 'restricted' view tickets at each ground. So hardly the rule is it?

These former ground-dwellers have changed the way they watch their team.

One hears tell of an alternative world where pubs show matches other than those televised by all the normal channels, beamed somehow via a Satellite someone found down the back of the sofa.

The venues don't appear to be overtly advertised but the phrase "where's it on?" can sometimes be heard in conversations between two blokes in a bar, which probably has something to do with it.

There would be a cost to watching football this way, of course, but if a lift can be secured from another member of the family and neither lad nor dad bothers with replica shirts it could be £10-£20 depending on how thirsty they are.

Further down the cost scale there are websites on which people are able to watch games from the comfort of their laptop.

There could potentially be thousands, millions of people out there glued to games in this way.

There could potentially be thousands, millions of decent Neil Bonnar articles out there - but I'd doubt it.

So what's the price of football in their alternative dark world of watching live football?

Transport: Walk to where you left the laptop; free.

Where do you get free laptops from? Average laptop - £250? That's the price of a kid's season ticket at Bolton Wanderers mate. Not free.

Ticket price: Don't be silly; free.

Broadband and line rental - £30 a month - £360 a year - the cost of my season ticket at Bolton Wanderers. Not free.

What to wear: stay in your pyjamas, nobody's watching; free.

Batman PJ's - £12 from Primark. Sofa £600. Not free.

Programme: Get the team line-ups off Twitter an hour before the game; free.

See laptop. Not free.

Food: Go to the fridge and grab whatever grub your mum or wife bought at the big shop the day before; free.

Would be keen to know where you get free food from - I saw you at Frankie & Benny's the other Sunday and I'm sure you paid cash money. Bit daft if you have free food at home, Neil.

Drink: See above but replace grub with beer, coke or, to give yourself that authentic football feeling, Bovril; free.

Beer - £1.50 a bottle in the shop....can of pop £0.60....water rates - not free. Again.

Total price of dark, alternative, not-sure-whether-legal-or-not world of watching football live: free.

Or really expensive, depends on whether it suits your half-thought-out argument. Not free though.

My uncle always said that if you're unsure what opinion to hold on football, then take a look at what Bonnar writes and go the opposite way. Looks like he was bob on.