The Elephant in the Boardroom
The Premier League; many would consider it to be the most exciting and lucrative form of live entertainment.
The top tier of English football represents communities from all regions of the country and brings them together in a widely anticipated competition.
As we look ahead to the beginning of the 2023/24 season, it’s clear that more people than ever before are eager to witness this battle of physicality and technique.
However, who is this league for?
What purpose does it serve to the fans who love and support the football institution?
Have the bodies in charge of it lost touch with the individuals at the heart of its success?
Once upon a time, before the concept of a paywall even existed, the old First Division stood strong atop a competitive football pyramid.
Punters could watch the highest level of English football for absolutely nothing, bar their TV licensing fee. Nowadays, the landscape is shaped very differently and the modern-day viewer no longer has the luxury of live football for this modest fee.
It has been replaced by a trio of media enterprises, all attempting to outbid each other for the rights to broadcast the most sort-after sporting event in the country.
To watch all the Premier League football on offer now, it will cost you in excess of £50 per month, along with the headache of managing three different subscriptions for Sky, BT and Amazon Prime.
It is surely only a matter of time before more companies like Netflix or Apple TV start to disrupt the market as well.
The real question is whether this is still feasible and affordable for most families?
A report from The Independent back in August 2022 suggested that the average household is left with £400 of disposable income every month.
To watch every Premier League game now on offer amounts to roughly a quarter of people’s spare cash. This contributes to a wider issue facing the future of our national teams.
If this is the reality for most people, how are we going to inspire the next generation of talented footballers?
If nobody can watch the best of the current generation, where will the next Harry Kane or Gareth Bale come from?
Families across the land are now forced to decide between buying their children football boots or giving them the chance to watch and learn from our elite professionals.
It is worrying how accessible football has become, but there is also a lot to appreciate about the developments that this current structure has made.
We now have more choice than ever before with a higher quality of professional insight and technical analysis. When we create options for the consumer, it forces the suppliers to raise their standards, however, the price is increasing in line with this.
The rising costs is now at the point where it’s starting to feed into a larger and less talked about issue.
The elephant in the boardroom threatens the whole infrastructure of televised sports, even beyond our beautiful game, Illegal streaming platforms.
Services that offer all the convenience and value that is missing from our existing, legitimate format with all-in-one packages for a fraction of the price.
This can only be stopped by devising a similar, legal alternative. Instead of auctioning off games to multiple parties and fragmenting the foundations of our strongest domestic competition, there needs to be an offer that can match the ease and affordability of the underground criminal network, otherwise, the English game is at risk of losing the most important entity it should serve; our community.