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Volume 10 No. 22

International Football

The Premier League "will not intervene over ticket prices in response to calls for a cap on the amounts clubs are charging," according to Martyn Ziegler of the PA. The league insists that "tickets are a matter for individual clubs," although it does encourage "stretch pricing," where a range of different prices are offered "to cater for those on lower budgets." A Premier League spokesperson said: "Ticket pricing is a matter for individual clubs, many of which work hard to fill their stadiums with offers at different points during a season that make top-flight football accessible to large numbers of fans" (PA, 1/10). The BELFAST TELEGRAPH reported the Premier League will "encourage clubs to bring in new incentives to encourage away fans." Premier League officials are aware of the need for strong away support at grounds "in order to maintain the atmosphere of the top flight, one of its strengths compared to others in Italy and to some extent Spain." Efforts will focus on "providing incentives to clubs to put away tickets on sale, and possibly subsidising coach travel" (BELFAST TELEGRAPH, 1/10).

In London, John Cross wrote increasing ticket prices in football is "not just an Arsenal issue" even though Sunday's match with Man City has "put it on the agenda." It is "expensive being a football fan." It is "getting out of hand." Most bloggers, tweeters and supporters "point to Arsenal as being one of the most expensive." However, "the great irony" is that Arsenal changed its pricing policy after consulting with the fans. The upshot is that "there is no right or wrong way of doing it." Just what is "deemed to be the fairest way -- and not everyone will think it's fair" (DAILY MIRROR, 1/10).

THE GREAT DIVIDE: ESPN's Iain Macintosh wrote, Arsenal's £62 ($99) "ticket fiasco is the story that has split English football. How annoying. If it had happened in the Bundesliga instead, it would be the story that united German football. That's the difference between us and them. They stand up for their rights. We turn on each other and then drop our trousers for the highest bidder." He continued, "This isn't a partisan issue. This is about the breakdown of the supply-and-demand argument and this should be the moment when football fans of all colours unite and lock down their wallets. But it isn't. Instead, we've seen the 21st-century response to the criticism of your football club or your football club's player, which is to disregard entirely the question of right and wrong, burst into tears and howl, 'But THEY always do it and you never criticise THEM!'" (ESPN, 1/10).

Scottish Premier League Celtic CEO Peter Lawwell "wants unanimous backing for the contentious league reconstruction proposals for Scottish football, insisting they offer the only way out of the 'gridlock' in which he says the game currently finds itself," according to Stephen Halliday of the SCOTSMAN. Lawwell is a member of the Scottish FA’s Professional Game Board, which "had a key role in negotiating the agreement in principle, announced at Hampden on Tuesday, for a new 12-12-18 three-tier set-up," which will see the SPL and Scottish Football League merge into a single governing body. While Lawwell "admits the new set-up is imperfect, he ­believes Scottish football simply cannot afford to reject it." Lawwell said, "Every­body needs to get behind it. All of the stakeholders in the game -- media, clubs, ­governing bodies -- need to back it. You should not under­estimate the breakthrough in terms of getting ­unanimity within the SPL on this "to gain SFL support for the plan, SPL clubs "have agreed to a financial distribution model, which will see Celtic among the biggest losers in terms of prize money." Lawwell said, "We are giving up a considerable amount. There is a change to the distribution. Some would deem that fairer, I would probably not call it fairer because those who generate the value should get the most, but it’s a recognition -- certainly from Celtic -- that to get out of this gridlock we need to, in some way, compromise in the central revenues" (SCOTSMAN, 1/10).

LOSING HOPE: In Glasgow, Michael Grant wrote Lawwell "admitted the new structure would do nothing to improve the chances of any team winning the title other than Celtic and Rangers." Lawwell said, "The predictability of the outcome of any competition kills it and that's what happened here. Celtic and Rangers have been the biggest strength because we have generated the value, but some may also argue the biggest weaknesses because it's destroyed competition. This won't change things in that respect. You need a more radical solution in order to change that" (HERALD SCOTLAND, 1/10). In Glasgow, Keith Jackson reported former SFA President George Peat accused SFA CEO Stewart Regan and SPL CEO Neil Doncaster of "botching their big chance to save Scottish football." Peat "insisted the two Englishmen in the most powerful positions on Hampden’s sixth floor simply do not understand what it takes to run the game in this country" (DAILY RECORD, 1/10).