The season starts tomorrow and it’s time to get back on the roller coaster of highs and lows that supporting Birmingham City always brings. I just hope that none of the lows are quite as bad as last season’s loss to Bournemouth. I can cope with watching Blues teams lose but not with seeing them surrender all hope.
For me, the most important thing is that the players provide some evidence that they care about the result and are doing the best that they can. That’s what made watching the Women’s World Cup so enjoyable and why I stayed up so late to watch the England team. It is not surprising that attendance at Women’s Super League games has gone up. As the current issue of When Saturday Comes reports, adult tickets cost “the equivalent of two cups of tea in some men’s Premier League grounds … and the players meet fans and sign autographs afterwards.” It also reports that Emma Hayes, the Chelsea women’s team coach, said she would be happy to see the television cash go straight to those clubs that are still striving to become professional.
That’s a marked contrast to attitudes at the top clubs in the men’s game where the most money goes to the teams at the top. On the way home after the friendly game against Leicester I noticed one of those Sky Sports posters that say, “Sky Sports and the Premier League, 23 years and counting.” When the FA allowed the big clubs to set up the Premier League 23 years ago, they said it would help to improve the long-term performance of the England team. It hasn’t done that but it did enable the top clubs to keep the major share of the TV money for themselves.
It will be interesting to see what the next 23 years brings. The dominance of Sky Sports is being challenged by BT and both are being challenged by free football streaming on illegal sites. A Guardian article reporting on how easy it is to stream a football match asks, “Is this plain old piracy, or just priced-out fans taking sport back from big business?” It’s a good question.
I’m looking forward to seeing Blues playing a league game again and am sorry I may miss part of the opening game due to a significant birthday of a friend. This may sound like heresy to some of you but friends come before football in my life. I’m pleased that Blues have published the squad numbers today so that I can prepare my cheat sheet for the new season.