The Sporting Chameleon

an absolute cheesecake of a sports blog

Mansfield Town introduce children to drug

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MANSFIELD Town allowed fans to pay what they liked to watch the team play Gateshead yesterday.

The decision was deemed a success with an attendance more than double what they have averaged this season, even forcing a ten-minute kick-off delay.

But football matches are not consumer goods, they are not a Radiohead album.

Football matches are an addiction, they are a drug.

A football fan does not want to watch his team every week.

They are there because to miss a game is a fate worse than death.

Witness the truth-talking Manchester City fan on the Blue Vibe fansite after his side were knocked out of the Carling Cup by Manchester United.

He wrote: “You wonder whether it’s actually worth all the grief that goes with supporting a football team.

“Just think of all those perfectly happy folk who like, say, opera or the theatre and never have to spend days worrying about whether Hamlet will be a good play or Tosca will be a good tune and never go home so dejected having watched the cast balls it up.”

Logically this man would never again go to a Manchester City game.

But logic never came into supporting your team.

It costs between £30 and £40 to watch most Premier League matches, rising to £94 (£94!) for some tickets at Arsenal, yet all grounds (except at Wigan and Gary Megson’s Bolton) are usually full.

So despite what Mansfield’s balance sheet might be telling them this morning, letting fans choose how much to pay is silly.

No football fan wants to pay anything, because they do not actually want to be there at all.

Offer a heroin addict some free smack and they will almost certainly take you up on that offer, but it is not what is best for them.

The lowest a fan paid at Mansfield was a token 3p, but the gentleman who paid £50 – usual ticket prices are £16 – is not a real fan.

On the pitch the plan backfired, as the Stags lost 2-0, only their second home defeat of the season and against opponents who currently sit deep into the relegation zone.

I suspect gate receipts would have been considerably lower if fans were asked to pay after the game.

Football tickets are overpriced, this is irrefutable fact.

Never is £16 to watch a Blue Square Premier match value for money.

So my advice to Mansfield?

Keep overcharging, do not lose winnable games at home and weed out the part-timers.

They will only thank you in the end.

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