It’s easy to get depressed about the current state of football: historical clubs collapsing, fans ditching tickets in favour of TV and corruption being evident at the very top of footballing organisations are just a few of the issues faced today.
But what did we expect? Football is now a billion pound industry. Money has turned the sport into a business and revenue is directly linked to success. In order to become the best team, a club must also become the best brand.
Whilst the top players earn ridiculous amounts – Forbes estimates Lionel Messi will earn £102 million this year – small clubs such as Bury FC struggle to survive. As a result, towns are devastated as the heart of their community is torn out.
This extreme wealth and greed has certainly come close to ruining the beautiful game – indeed, many thought that the exposure of the corruption involved in the 2022 World Cup bid would be the straw which broke the camel’s back.
However, I remain strangely optimistic about the future. No matter how much our precious game has drastically changed in terms of wealth over the past 10 years, football will always live on.
Despite some fans opting to support big name clubs such as Liverpool and Chelsea over their local teams, attendances throughout the Championship, League One and League Two are at all-time highs – a 60-year attendance record was reached in the 2018/19 season, with 18.4 million fans watching a non-top-flight team.
Even though some people claim passion and atmosphere have gone from the stands, it’s still very much alive. Take John Westwood, a Pompey fanatic. With over 60 Portsmouth FC tattoos, PFC engrained on his teeth, and a love for his team so apparent it even features in his legal middle name, footballing passion runs so deep that it will never disappear.
So even with the corruption, greed, and extreme wealth throughout football, nothing will ever stop it from being what it always has been – the beautiful game.