St Andrew’s is not the only stadium which is short on atmosphere at times. A recent article1 mentioned complaints by three Premier League managers about the lack of support from home fans. A quote from Richard Scudamore, CEO of the Premier League, indicates that his concern is not so much for the fans who pay exorbitant prices to go to games but for the TV audiences. He said, “Unless the show is a good show, with the best talent and played in decent stadia with full crowds, then it isn’t a show you can sell.”
In other words, the formation of the Premier League didn’t just lead to problems in the lower tiers; it also set up a system that is unsustainable for the top teams. They are slowly but surely killing the goose that laid all the golden eggs for them. Football without fans really is nothing and when the crowd in the ground is not passionate and vocal, the entertainment product being sold to the TV companies loses some of its value.
Of course, there are many factors involved in the loss of atmosphere at big clubs. All-seater stadia make it harder for vocal fans to get together and high ticket prices keep young adults away; it’s cheaper to watch the game in a pub. The presence of tourists doesn’t help; as the article says, “they are there to capture it on their iPad rather than interact.”
Some Tottenham fans have set up the 1882 Movement to improve the atmosphere and have fun at youth games and some first team games. You can get a flavour of what they’re about from the #1882 THFC2 article and an indication of what other Spurs fans think of them from View from a Season Ticket Holder.3 I find it strangely comforting to know that supporters of other teams do a bit of bickering among themselves about the best way to show their support. The way some Birmingham City fans mock the Forza atmosphere group is obviously quite usual in football culture and I’m being naive when I want us all to be nice to each other.
Yeovil F C has come up with a completely different way to brighten up their games. They are planning to launch their own girl band4 to perform at home matches for the rest of the season. It might work down there but I’m afraid that if they tried it at St Andrews I might be inclined to mock just a little.