Written by dandan
The football world has changed a great deal over the Premiership years, with the top clubs in particular becoming a corporate playground, yet I bet there are still many real fans out there, living as I did in Parallel universes attending games in corporate mode, both as guest and host. Whilst still harbouring the dreams of your youth for your own club and wishing it was they, that were performing before you
I hated the freebee seekers who came not out of allegiance or love of the club or game, but for the ride, the food, drink and a chance to perhaps meet someone famous who was also a guest.
Personally I would only accept invitations if they were to the Arsenal, so as not to deny a real supporter the opportunity to visit his club. Unless as I did sometimes, I had the good fortune to be offered two invites for the clubs my kids supported, those I grabbed with alacrity, allowing them to see how the other half lived and understand how important was the tribal identity in lifting the enjoyment of the game to its correct level.
The difference between watching an Arsenal match together with your mates and kids, or even sitting among strangers who are also fellow fans, rather than those corporate parasites who are only “here for the beer, don’t understand the game really” was enough to make this fan sit on his hands less he did someone some damage and probably forfeits his job. I also refused to use group hospitality at the club, taking only clients on their own who I knew were true believers and would want to watch all the game whatever freebees were on offer.
We had tables however both at Birmingham City and in the Magpie room at Newcastle Utd, where I was expected occasionally to play host, but I would only attend personally if the Arse were playing or a major customer was being targeted. Business you see does in the end count.
On the other hand being based in or near London work wise opened up the prospect of evening matches. Is there anything like the colour of floodlit football? These matches I could watch unencumbered by the unseemly corporate flotsam and jetsam described above. But rather with real fans and friends, fortified normally by a large fish and chips collected from the Highbury chippy on the way in.
So today in my retirement when I see the mass of empty corporate seats as the second half kicks off, I feel no regret for times past, but pity not only for the fans that in these straightened times, would in many instances be living a dream to be sat there. But also for the poor souls who are working their butts off trying to get the barflies up and out, so they can get some compensation for giving up the weekend to entertain the self-indulgent bores and at least watch the damn game.