"In terms of ticket pricing, it’s time to address it" - JOE speaks to Gary Lineker about the money in football
JOE caught up with Gary Lineker to find out his opinions on ticket prices, safe standing and the money at the top of the game...
Do you think fans are being priced out of football?
In terms of ticket pricing, it’s time to address it. Especially given the amount of money that’s flooding into the game with the new deal.
There’s absolutely no reason whatsoever for avarice. I think the clubs need to reduce ticket prices and find different ways of encouraging people to come to games.
You don’t want to price the youngsters out of the game. You’ve got to make it affordable for a family to be able to go to games because that’s your future revenue.
Are clubs being greedy with gate receipts?
They don’t need to be greedy now. They’ve got so much money coming in with this Premier League deal. They should cut the ticket pricing – I feel quite strongly about that.
The other thing you don’t want is if it becomes more and more expensive and suddenly grounds aren’t full, it suddenly becomes less interesting to television anyway, because you need that backdrop.
It’s vital for the game. They need to understand that, so hopefully they’ll do something about it – whether they will or not is another matter.
Would you like to see a return of safe-standing to improve the atmosphere at matches?
As long as it is safe, obviously that’s first and foremost.
You go to grounds these days and most people are stood up with their seat behind them anyway. So I’ve got absolutely no problem with safe-standing. If that’s something that the supporters want then give it to them.
It works in Germany, and the atmospheres are great. You want that atmosphere.
And again, if you can make those standing areas a lot cheaper, then you’ll get a bit more of an atmosphere. Absolutely fine – as long as you’re sure it’s absolutely safe.
Some fans complain about ‘financial doping’ at certain clubs - what are your views on the money at the top of the game?
I think all the big clubs have a huge amount to spend, so all you’ve done with these hugely wealthy oligarch-type owners is bring more clubs to the top of the table.
I very much doubt that they’ll spend more than Manchester United will [this summer] or did last season when they spent zillions.
Arsenal too – Alexis Sanchez last season, Mesut Ozil the season before, they’ve spent a fortune on those players. They’re in a seriously strong financial position, it’s just that Arsene Wenger doesn’t like spending it too much.
Liverpool have spent fortunes. I know they’ve lost Luis Suarez but if you compare how much they’ve spent, I doubt it differs that much.
I think we all want the people who run the clubs to be childhood fans or local business who have done quite well but that isn’t how it is anymore. If you do that, then you can’t compete.
Do you worry that some clubs may overstretch themselves?
Most fans want a really, really rich foreign owner, but you never quite know what you’re going to get until they get there.
[And because of that], you are going to get things like changing the colour of the strip – things that go against everything the club stands for. So be careful what you wish for!