Mid-May. The football season has ended and thus betting opportunities are at a premium. However, there is still the Champions League Final to be contested! Atletico Madrid face off against Real in a Madrid derby that is sure to be close and unpredictable (if La Liga is anything to go by). Cup finals are also happening in England as well. Leyton Orient play Rotherham for a place in the Championship whilst Derby and QPR scrap for a place in the Premier League. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend betting on cup finals, so maybe only stick a few bob on the tasty treble that I have lined up.
Both sides will be weakened by injuries to key personnel, with Diego Costa and Arda Turan facing a battle to be fit in time for the kick-off tomorrow evening and Galacticos Benzema and Pepe will definitely be out. With both sides evenly matched in terms of talent and chemistry, picking a winner is a risk. The two Madrids have domestically been on a poor run of form, with Atletico failing to win in the previous three matches and Real have only won one out of four. BTTS seems like a safe option for this match
Atletico/Real BTTS – Evens
CHAMPIONSHIP PLAY-OFF FINAL
QPR had to go to extra time in order to win over semi-finalists Wigan, whilst Derby easily disposed of Brighton over two legs. The teams are evenly matched on head-to-head games as well, with the latest match between the two sides ending up 1-0 to the home team at Pride Park. With seven wins out of eight for Derby in all competitions, they are the favourites for this match.
Derby to win – 13/10
LEAGUE ONE PLAY-OFF FINAL
After both teams encountered stalemate in the first leg, Rotherham and Leyton Orient managed to claim wins in the second to set up this final. Expectations are high in South Yorkshire; Rotherham are aiming for a double promotion having automatically gone up from League Two last season. The season had started so well for Leyton Orient but tailed off later in the season, but they still managed to secure third place. This game seems guaranteed to have goals in it. The O’s have only kept one clean sheet in twelve games since mid March and Rotherham have conceded more goals than anyone in the top six (tied with Peterborough).
Over 2.5 goals – EVENS
This treble has odds of over 8/1 with William Hill and BetVictor! Good luck.
There was a time when the beautiful game was the sport of the working class people. The public would work their mundane, manual labour jobs from Monday to Friday and treat themselves to watching an affordable game of football on the weekend.
As sad as it is to say, times have changed and financial matters have been put before the enjoyment of supporters. Ticket costs have reached a disgusting high, pricing out a large number of fans who have to be content with watching their chosen game on the TV or illegally via a free live stream.
It is clear that football has evolved from recreational entertainment into a business. Clubs are intent on sucking their die-hard supporters dry to watch 22 individuals kick a ball around for an hour and a half. The protests of Manchester City and Liverpool fans during their February 2013 encounter is proof of this. A jointly-held banner displaying the slogan ‘”£nough is £nough’ is an emotive message to those at their respective team’s hierarchy. Will they listen? Probably not, why should they?
The question now is, can the working class afford to still be followers of the world’s most popular sport? At the way inflation is going, the answer is no. According to this writer’s research into ten London football teams using sources from the BBC and official club websites, the average price of a league ticket in English football is £41.90, which is the equivalent of paying 47p per minute. Some fans would be content about splashing the required amount of cash to watch top quality players, but the fact is that only a small minority of football across England can be considered world class. Paying £23 to watch Brentford at home is not most supporter’s idea of value for money.
Ticket prices are not the only essentials that are on the up financially. Merchandise is crucial to the football fanatic’s day out and everyday life. Last season, QPR fans would have to pay £60.99 to have a half time pie and be decked out in the latest kit and scarf, on top of the £40 cost for a ticket. You’d think that empty pockets would be less common in the lower leagues, but expenditure is still rather high. Followers of Championship side Millwall would have to pay £53.98 for the same day out, including the £28 ticket.
The most expensive ticket in the country belongs to Arsenal at a whopping £127, whilst the cheapest in the sample was fellow North Londoners Barnet at a somewhat more reasonable £14. The question football fans must be asking themselves is the football at the Emirates £113 better than games played at Underhill. For a typical working man, £127 is going to be a significant dent in the monthly wage, and prices like those would probably be considered criminal by many.
The overpricing doesn’t stop there. Out of all the London teams in the sample, not one of them charge under £3.00 for a pie, costing significantly more than the same refreshment at your local supermarket. The priciest pies belong to White Hart Lane who charge £3.70 for their pre-match delicacy. One most assume that the most premium of horses are involved in the ingredients.
Following the recent reports of match fixing combined with the current economic downturn, it may come across some chairmen’s minds that fans might actually start abandoning and boycotting matches over these issues. Therefore, in order to restore some dignity to this already corrupt sport, lower prices from the official club store to the ticket office would seem like a plausible idea.
Whether those at the top of the football pyramid will see it in this light remains to be seen.