Dear the FA
On Saturday afternoon I took my Dad to his first ever England game as a present for his birthday. As we walked towards Entrance K with 40 minutes remaining before kick-off, an excitement gripped us as it should any football supporter approaching the iconic stadium to see their nation’s team in action.
That excitement didn’t last long. Having been locked outside the ground for 30 minutes for no apparent reason, we transpired to miss the national anthems and even the kick-off for the match we had travelled five hours to and paid £50 to see – not including the cost of petrol money and accommodation (That’s right, we’re England fans from outside of London. I know with your wacky kick-off times and reluctancy to take England games around the country that you’ve tried to oust us out but a few of us are still putting up with your inadequacy). We were offered zero explanation as to why the turnstiles were not allowing people through and as we took our seats we had no time to take in the famous Wembley atmosphere.
That’s unfair to be honest, there was a mumbled announcement over the tannoy but the only word that was decipherable was ‘Rooney’, so the PA system was seemingly being used to announce the team news rather than the reason that hundreds of paying customers were locked outside the stadium just minutes before kick-off. The stadium cost over £800m to build did it not? Surely you could’ve spared some of the budget that was spent on your precious corporate sections for a decent tannoy system to let us know why us peasants out on the concourse were missing a game we had paid good money to view.
In the end, it might not be a terrible thing that we were unable to soak up that ‘atmosphere’, as much like other recent home fixtures there was nothing even bordering an atmosphere inside one of the most famous stadiums in world football. I am completely unsurprised by the uninspiring performances the national team has served up over recent years as the gargantuan corporate sections swallow up the atmosphere and as I’m sure you’ve seen on Twitter, some of the Joe Public’s views are even blocked by the bigwigs who are able to pay for their three course meal at the match.
Every vain attempt at a chant was swallowed up the black hole of so-called ‘support’ in the stands. Still, those people that have journeyed 20 minutes on the Metropolitan line to sit in silence throughout that game are fully deserving of the two caps they earned in comparison to the hardy souls who sang their hearts out over in Estonia last month, right?
And those are the same fans that are still waiting for a confirmation on a venue for the Italy friendly, sat there watching hotel prices and flight prices slowly rise and still unable to save some money by booking in advance due to the lack of communication regarding a venue. And they are the same fans that will no doubt spend the majority of their day in Glasgow on Tuesday waiting to pick up match tickets that could easily have been sent out to them weeks in advance.
I have to pay more for my adult ticket because I’m not attending with a child. I have to pay £75 just to be able to apply for a ticket to an away match. I have to commit to purchasing a home ticket SIX MONTHS in advance of the game in order to receive a discount for being a lucky member of the England Fan Club and if I don’t manage to do that, then I can’t assign other tickets in my order to another member of the Fan club.
You have a product here that is almost impossible to not sell. England fans will remain loyal to the team no matter who is running things behind the scenes. If the same people that run Wembley and the FA ran a restaurant for example, that establishment would’ve been closed down a long time ago. Too many people within the organisation are resting on their laurels and just because people still turn up to England games, it doesn’t make it acceptable. And don’t just blame the team – the team’s performances in the 70’s were worse than they have been in recent years – did we see such a significant drop in attendance figures during that era? I don’t think so.
I’ve read that there was not so long ago a 25,000 strong travel club for England – with a waiting list. I’ve also read that the same number is down to around 6,000. If the FA as an organisation continually fails to address these problems, the numbers will continue to fall. You can’t go on treating loyal supporters like scum of the earth because eventually even the most loyal supporter will say ‘enough is enough.’ But I suppose as long as that little section behind the dugout is filled, everything will be rosy. You can always sell off the home of English football on to the NFL and American football after all. I’m sure nobody will bat an eyelid.
Yours, in disgust and (very little) faith,
A severely disgruntled fan.