We All Follow The Chelsea, Or Not….

We will follow the The Chels(ea) Over Land and Sea … and Leicester… and Fulham… and Blackpool… and Copenhagen…or maybe not.

Financially, this is not a good week to be a Chelsea fan. Hot on the heels of a demand of money with menaces yesterday to stand in a cow shed in Fulham came the news that the much anticipated away game at Blackpool had been switched to a Monday night, and has today been followed by the announcement that tickets for the CL away game in Copenhagen are weighing in at a princely £66.

Let’s start with our neighbours. Yes, historically it has always been more expensive to attend matches in London. However, there’s a big difference between the relative luxury of a purpose-built stand that’s less than 15 years old and something with a roof that had seats installed following the Taylor report and actually shakes when you do The Bouncy. Plus the toilets are portakabins and if you’re sitting at the front and it’s raining, bring a pac-a-mac. £49.00 plus the traditional £1.50 CFC breathing charge is frankly not acceptable.

Moving on to Blackpool, once the Seasiders gained promotion last season, many people had marked this down as a “must do” away game – probably the highlight of the season. And to that end many people had booked rooms for a weekend in Blackpool, looking for bargains that invariably were non-refundable.

My sole reason for not doing so was a fear that the ticket allocation wouldn’t be big enough to cope – indeed I did mention to a couple of well-placed people the possibility of getting Blackpool allocated on loyalty point through the Fans Forum – combined with an opportunity to visit Florence for my birthday the following week.

However, the announcement that the match is now rescheduled for a working weekday is going to inevitably end in some fans incurring charges for cancelled hotels, or in the case of the lucky ones, re-arranging accommodation or having to accept they won’t make it to the match (As an aside, I have never been to Blackpool. Old Mother Baby and my father had heard horror stories of poor hotels, skanky beaches and terrible food, so it was on the verboten list along with Butlins. Oh well, maybe next season…)

I am aware that The Chels have taken the Blackpool issue up with the Football Supporters Federation, but anyone expecting any action over a series of matches being switched to midweek shouldn’t hold their collective breath. I’ve viewed a number of forums today and read talk of campaigns for mass cancellations of Sky subscriptions. This is a pipe dream. The clubs need Murdoch’s millions because the gate money won’t pay the wage bill.

The wage bills are massive because players are paid ridiculous sums of money. Until a Europe-wide salary cap is brought in, with players paid £50k a week max, which means that clubs are less reliant on TV money, which means the Premier League can tell Murdoch to go and —- himself, football will remain in thrall to the small screen.

Finally, the long-awaited ticket news for Copenhagen was released today. I’d undertaken some research by visiting the Copenhagen FC website and was stunned to see the general admission prices were KR595. Or £67. Surely, I thought to myself, our tickets won’t cost that much? And they don’t, falling a precious pound short.

I know that this is the first time that Copenhagen have made this stage of the competition and they realistically don’t expect to progress. But bearing in mind that Barcelona tickets in 2005 were something like £43, and even given that Denmark is an expensive country, £66 is an awful lot for fans who are repeatedly financial under the cosh.

I had a really lucky break in that I was holding a hotel that I didn’t have to pay for until check-out, and then managed to find a better, cheaper, one in an online sale, the saving for which will cover the cost of my match ticket. Incidentally, CFC appear to have launched a retaliatory action, with the cost to the Danes of attending the match in London being exactly the same.

And talking of 2nd leg at the Bridge, by that time we’ll have probably had our season ticket renewals, or at least been told what they will cost. Many people are walking a fiscal tightrope at the moment.

An increase in season tickets next year may lead to some of them falling off (into Murdoch’s net, probably).

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