Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Sports Fans are last on the list

Thorpster has a rant at the ICC, the Dubai Dough Trouserers, and sports bodies in general putting television money and other stuff before the needs of the genuine sports fan. The scheduling of the ICC T20 in Sri Lanka, slap bang in the middle of their rainy season is madness, and I have to agree with him...

Is this the future?

This week as the build up began to the World T20 in Sri Lanka, I started hearing some worrying comments regarding the possibility of the bi-annual international thrash being ruined by rain. A few prophets of doom were telling us in the various pre tournament previews (of course inferior to The Middle Stump's) to expect more of a T10 than 20 due to the ICC's "crazy" decision to schedule this event in Sri Lanka slap bang in the middle of the rainy season.

I had a go at watching the two big games on Saturday, the hosts v the Saffas and Windies V Australia only for my worst fears to be proven. After I had given up on the first game I read online that it came down to a 7 over bash, whilst the 2nd game was cut short after 9 overs of the Aussies run chase. When asked about the meal at the recent PCA awards dinner by David Gower, Mike Gatting bemoaned the small portions, but I fear in cricketing terms that is what we will see over the next few weeks.

I have also been dismayed by some of the crowds so far but not really surprised as yet again organisers have priced the local cricket enthusiasts out of the market.

The problem lies not only with cricket but with all major sporting events. Sport has sold out to TV and sponsors and as ever in the world T20 fans are last on the list of the organisers priorities. The one major event that got it right was the London Olympics/paralympics 2012. As Lord Seb Coe said at the opening ceremony "when its our time, we'll do it right" and he did. Tickets were priced to guarantee full stands and even when the corporate monkeys failed to leave their hotel suites in the early stages leaving embarrassingly empty areas, Seb and "Coe" did what was needed to fill the gaps (like Ryan Giggs).

Coe...got it right

The ultimate example of the law of the brown envelope dictating scheduling major events was the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 Fifa world cups. For both 2018 and 2022 the best bids (England and Australia respectively) got the lowest amount of bids. Meanwhile the worst bids technically from Russia and Qatar got the most votes and were awarded hosting rights, I wonder why? Did anyone seriously think it had anything to do with factors other than who offered the biggest bung? The night before the big vote an army of Harry Redknapp type characters were milling around the various meeting rooms explaining the "benefits" of their countries bid and the incentives for voting for them. So what do we end up with? A tournament in the worlds 2nd best sport played in a tiny Emirate state in June in 50 plus celsius. That would be crazy for the worlds summer sport but football? And this despite the bid being branded dangerous for this very reason. What about the fans so desperate to attend, who will be faced with absolutely ridiculous costs to go with ridiculous temperatures? But no matter as long as Sepp Blatter and the cronies he has managed to protect are okay.   Also those running the biggest cash cow of all the Premier League (Barclays not Indian) were amazed when season ticket holders across the land were dismayed regarding the proposal for the infamous overseas 39th game.

Look back at the cricket World Cup in the West Indies where the cricket crazy calypso fans were locked out as they couldn't afford the kings ransom they were asked to pay. Unlike Wayne Rooney they refused to pay hundreds of pounds to guarantee entry! Also, look at any major sporting event and ask yourself why the atmosphere is often so shit and the answer is because the stadium is usually stuffed with suits, sponsors, corporate cock suckers and cronies rather than genuine sports fans who would love to be there to both create and soak up the atmosphere.

This week David Bernstein of the FA apologised for scheduling the disastrous Hillsborough semi-final at the Sheffield Stadium when they knew it was unsuitable due to previous crushes. I saw a programme on Sky involving some survivors of Leppings Lane and the question was asked whether fans figured in the thoughts of sports organisers and schedulers? The answer is/was a resounding no as examples were cited of ridiculous kick off times, such as the Scouse semi final last season at midday on a Saturday at Wembley.

The fact is like the Old Etonians running our country, those who run cricket at the highest level and most other major sports don't understand and don't even really consider Joe Public at all. In fact if enough dough is on offer from TV and sponsors they are quite happy with major international occasions being played out in empty stadiums. The best example I can think of are the so called "made for TV" tests between England and Pakistan in the UAE last winter. And how many absolutely pointless ODI's have we seen in recent years played in front of sparse crowds? The classic pointless ODI series being England V Australia this summer meaning there was disgracefully no time for a full and proper series between the number one and two sides in the world! If we really want to go back to basics, what is the nations summer game doing solely on satellite TV? How many of us fell in love with the game sprinting back after school to watch our heroes on the BBC?

This is what we want back on terrestrial tv!

As highlighted on the pages of this site numerous times, cricket has been the victim of corruption caused by the "wronguns disease" aka the unfortunate love of money on many occasions. The most infamous being the seduction of the ECB by the tashed tanned Texan Tycoon, the slimy Allen Stanford. But while the Dollar/Rupee is king and the cash be it in the form of Harry's original favourite the brown envelope or his more modern method of the offshore bank account carries so much weight, what do we expect? A world cricket tournament in Sri Lanka scheduled whilst that part of the world is traditionally lashed with rain or a football world cup played in a tiny Arab state where it is hotter than Rooneys favourite sauna, surely not....


  1. 'I have also been dismayed by some of the crowds so far but not really surprised as yet again organisers have priced the local cricket enthusiasts out of the market. '

    Sorry cant have that - the matches you watched had tickets on sale for 50c (thats 50 US cents) which werent sold out, and the top priced tickets were USD14 (which was 90% full occupied by tourists), so pricing on this occasion has been tailored to the local market, the local market just hasnt been enthused (bar the Lanka games which have all sold out)

    1. Thanks for the comment. I don't your right the article I read must have been wrong. But do you think of the scheduling in the rainy season?

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