SEEING RED: Exposé reveals the ugly side of the beautiful game

Sam Allardyce
Sam Allardyce

I’ve defended football to the hilt over the years.

Even in this column I have backed it against the Olympic bandwagon-jumpers who peer down the noses and tell us all how football could learn from our golden athletes, cyclists and gymnasts.

But I must admit, in the wake of the furore surrounding the demise of Sam Allardyce as England manager, as well as allegations against other individuals as part of The Daily Telegraph’s “football for sale” exposé, I’m getting more disillusioned with the game I grew up loving with each passing day.

Okay, some may argue the allegations are hardly a surprise and that those exposed – bar Allardyce – are not high-profile figures.

But it’s just another thing on top of an already long list of issues which are blighting the game – with money at the root of all its evils.

The game once belonged to the people.

Now it’s a cash-rich industry bank-rolled by billion pound television deals and overseas investors with not a care in the world for the loyal, paying spectator.

This is not a new phenomenon, but one question still remains unanswered for me.

Why on earth do clubs continue to rip off fans with sky-high ticket prices when billions are being pumped into the game by Sky and BT?

And how do they get away with it?

Of course, while fans continue to pay these admission prices, the clubs will continue to charge them – but that doesn’t make it right.

Recently, I saw a photo doing the rounds on social media which showed that it cost away fans £43 on the day at Sheffield Wednesday.

The words accompanying the photo read “scandalous”.

And it is a scandal.

How can a Championship football club justify charging such amount?

It was cheaper by nearly £20 for me to go to watch an England Test Match against Pakistan at Old Trafford in the summer.

And let’s be honest, if you’re a fan of both cricket or football, would you rather pay £43 to watch two mediocre Championship sides, or £25 to watch two leading nations in a cricket match?

It’s a no brainer.

So with sky-high ticket prices, clubs changing their kits every few months and charging the earth for them, constantly changing kick off times and managers trying to bag another £400,000 on top of their £3 million salary, I’m finding it close to impossible to defend the game against those who love to bash it.

Football was my life in my teens and 20s.

I went home and away to watch my team and had a season ticket for a decade.

I religiously watched every game on TV – so if this can happen to me, how many other fans out there are walking away from the game they once loved?

The Allardyce affair was a stain on the game and once again highlighted greed at its core.

It won’t happen, but somehow the game needs to do something soon to keep fans onside, for its own sake.