By Tony Attwood
In a year’s time it will cost around £1000 a year to subscribe to the three “outlets” (what a ghastly word) that will divide up Arsenal matches on TV for UK watches: Sky Sprout, BT Moan and now Amazon. I haven’t got a silly alternative name for Amazon Footie yet, but I am sure one will pop up sooner or later. Something that involves asking me to comment on the delivery of a parcel which they tell me arrived yesterday but which I most certainly haven’t received.
Now as it happens I have already spent £1650 or so this year in renewing my Arsenal season ticket which gives me access to 26 games at the Arsenal Stadium, and the option of buying a ticket for any extra games played at the ground – for example if we get into long cup runs – or the FA Cup or League Cup final if Arsenal get there. I’d be in the pot for the Europa, but so not guaranteed it hardly seems worth mentioning.
So put the package together and that would make around £2600 to watch Arsenal for a season. Something like £45 a week for the season. Rather a lot of dosh.
But it is worse than this, because although I could watch the TV with the sound turned down, if I ever mistakenly turned it up, all I would hear about Arsenal would be moan, moan, moan about the players we didn’t sign, the awfulness of the players we did get, and how Chelsea, Man U, Liverpool, Man C and of course the Tiny Totts have done so much better than we have of late both on the pitch, and in signings.
And it is worse again because I would know that what I heard and watched would be censored. The firms bidding for TV rights have to sign up to a set of broadcasting “standards” which are getting more stringent all the time. These include
a) If there is any crowd trouble or an “incident” they must not show it.
b) There must be nothing more than very minor commentaries about referees, to the effect that the referee might have made a individual mistake but no suggestion that the mistake might have been part of a catalogue of errors
c) There will be “expert summarisers” nattering away who, instead of interestingly pointing out tactical changes or repeated violence by defenders, or referee or linesmen errors, will by and large talk about how awful Arsenal are.
And then of course there is the clash. I am paying for Arsenal home games – which I will be at – so much of my subscription is wasted. It might be £1000 for 26 Arsenal games, or whatever they are going to show on TV, but I will be at the ground for the home games, so that now works out at £1000 for say 13 of those which is not really a fun way of spending my money.
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Going to the home games is certainly something I don’t want to miss. I enjoy the occasions – ok not so much when we lose, but we didn’t lose at home very much last season (I can only remember two such events in the league). I enjoy the travel with friends, meeting up at the Swimmer – the public house to which a little group of us give our patronage before the games – and so forth.
And this brings up another thing that makes matters even worse: the way TV changes the dates around, often at very short notice, for games that I am going to watch. Plans have to be scuppered and amended. Train tickets thrown away and new ones purchased…
And even then we are still not at the end of the problems, because I’ll not only miss some of the games for which I have paid because I am on holiday, the chances are I won’t be able to watch them because the country I am in does not have Arsenal on their TV channels.
Yes when I was in Cyprus last autumn I got the two games we played while I was there, (although after a lot of meandering around the streets looking for a bar that was showing Arsenal, and not any of the other teams playing that night) but in Australia (where I go to visit my youngest daughter) there is no chance of seeing the games. (In fact when I did a tour of bars three years ago asking if they opened early in the morning to show Champions League games, the only thing I was offered was a sexual encounter of the kind that I was certainly not minded to accept. In retrospect it was funny, but at the time it involved a lot of very quick walking to another part of town and the abandonment of a very expensive glass of wine).
Now of course football on TV works for a lot of people. People who never go to games and who like to moan about Arsenal a lot, because a) they are not losing out on tickets bought and b) they must love the attitude of the “pundits” towards Arsenal. (Pundit comes from the Sanskrit paṇḍita meaning ‘learned man.’ On that basis it is the most inappropriately used word in the English language).
But what about football on TV for people like me? Yes it has changed somewhat because Sky now let me buy individual games at £7.99 which is a bit better. Quite possible BT do the same. That is a step in the right direction. But couldn’t they do a discount for people like me who always turn the sound off so I don’t have to hear their anti-Arsenal propaganda? 50p a game for the censored vision only. That sounds about right.
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