Time to blow the final whistle on the football play-offs
With ever-increasing costs, ticketing debacles and an over-full capital, it’s time to call an end to the football play-offs.
Just for the record, I’m hoping that my club (Hull City) actually benefits from the play-offs…but it doesn’t make it right. Brighton and Hove Albion finished third (only on goal difference), amassing three points more than we did and 15 more than our opponents (Sheffield Wednesday). They performed third-best over the entire season and should have been promoted on merit, as a result.
Football bosses and television companies alike will extol the virtues of the play-offs, after all, they extend the season…they’re great for the fans and they give more teams something to play for at the end.
Football fans the length and breadth of this country (and beyond) breath a sigh of relief at the end of the season. The nerves are culled and we can start to get our lives back…until the transfer window opens again (but don’t get me started on that one, just yet).
The play-offs are an abomination and rank as high on the ‘great ideas not thought through’ listing, as the ‘wally with the brolly’, or the Barton-esque foreign accents sported by English players abroad.
If the FA continues to mandate this annual circus (which I’m sure it will), why does it insist on forcing armies of fans to descend into an over-subscribed capital over a Bank Holiday weekend? Not content with swelling the coffers of over-priced hostelries and train operators, which have adopted a demand-based pricing model, they also arrange a 5.00pm kick-off time. This makes the ‘last train’ utterly un-catchable to anyone wishing to remain in the ground for the 90-minutes of normal time, thereby forcing hard-working families to shell out on rickety coaches, or over-priced accommodation.
With England International matches being ‘shared out’ among the regions, why can’t the play-off venue be held at a neutral ground closer to both teams? 90,000 fans descending on a city OTHER than London would go a long way to rebalancing the North/South financial divide. The increased revenue might even kick-start this Northern Powerhouse we hear so much about.
Not content with the crazy notion of having your own club sell the play-off tickets, we are currently being subjected to the IT fiasco that is an ‘event company’. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, you get a count-down timer taunting you to seal the deal, while the most counter-intuitive registration ‘system’ plays havoc with every logical and rational bone in your body. You’re then charged £3 per ticket for the experience. I make that around £250k for a single match…just for the privilege.
Over-priced train tickets, over-priced hotels, over-priced match tickets and unreasonable fees; as a family of four, we’ve spent as much as we do on European holiday flights and we haven’t even left the house yet.
A great day out for the fans, apparently.