We thought we would have to resort to another mailbox about maths but we've had some grand opinions about Man United, Newcastle, Tottenham and more. Oh and maths...
We have one Chelsea fan who recognises the job done by Rafa Benitez while there's maths from Liverpool, Newcastle and Manchester. And Shawcross to Arsenal? Nah...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
Is Suarez The Most Entertaining Footballer?
I've just read Andi Thomas' excellent piece on Suarez (the operation Yewtree comment was gold!) and decided to offer some thoughts. Now, I'm about to say something controversial so ready yourselves... I think Suarez is the most entertaining footballer in the world right now. Before you all starting frothing at the mouth, combusting with rage at the sheer audacity of my comment, let me quantify it first. I'm not saying he's the best, that clearly goes to Messi, with players like Falcao and RVP also currently better, but he is wondrously entertaining.
I think it's because he has fantastic skills, an exceptional work ethic and a c*ntish streak to challenge Barton. He always moans, even when Liverpool are winning comfortably, he always does something controversial, he makes opposing fans act like pious hypocrites, he acts like a twunt; endless hilarity to watch when matched with his obvious skill. Despite his clear mercurial talent, Messi lacks in this department. The roguish nature is something we all love to see.
If you disagree, think about the 2006 world cup. Which game stands out? For me, it has to be when Holland and Portugal decided football was in danger of stagnating so decided to have a fight instead. 3 reds, almost every player booked; awful football but great entertainment. The 2010 final was also great because we had Holland attempting to assault Spain into submission. Commentators always say it's not what you want to see, fans will take the moral high ground and act like it is ruining the game, but to be honest, I eagerly await the next time Joey Barton will lose his sh*t and attempt to scrap with 3 people at once or de Jong karate kicks someone in the chest.
...I detested Suarez for a while after (in hindsight) overreacting massively at his exaggeration of injury after Jack Rodwell's tackle in the derby 'got Rodwell sent off', in the end there were no doubt a number of factors not least of which was inept refereeing (not that I am still bitter about it...).
These days I actually find myself more annoyed by the people aiming the same tired barbs at him; I'll never be his biggest fan, the fact that he plays for Liverpool forbids it, but he is by far their best player and on his day an absolute joy to watch - If he was driven out of this league because of the treatment he has been subjected to it would no doubt be a loss for the league, as well as those looking for someone/something to p*ss and moan about.
Finally - If you choose to publish this, can you please plan ahead to ignore my mail on the day after the next Merseyside derby calling Suarez a horrible cheating c**t? I'll be alright again once I've had a cry.
Dave (I wasted my bracket material on the "finally" thing) Allen, IOM
Happy With Newcastle's Pricing
There seems to be a lot of debate at the moment on ticket prices, so I thought I would offer my two-penneth.
I am a Newcastle fan, who used to have a season ticket until around 6 years ago - which coincided with becoming a parent for the first time..... For some reason, my wife decided that £500 of the family's money was better spent on nappies etc than me shouting at footballers...
The time has come where my son is old enough to go to the games. We have been to a few local friendlies in pre-season over the past few years, which were relatively cheap, and also had a few Newcastle games in the Championship at a reasonable cost. Now we are back and established (for how long?!) in the Premier League, Newcastle offer tickets for the majority of the home games, in the Family Enclosure, for a splendid £15 per Adult and £5 per Child (Under 16). Whilst I don't live in Newcastle and travel a short way to attend the games - this is cracking value to watch Premier League football - even taking local clubs like Darlington, they charge £8.00 to get in, and they are in the Northern League now.
This does not just cover the so called "smaller" clubs in the league, we have been to see Spurs, Villa, West Brom, Norwich, West Ham and QPR at this price, and have got tickets for the Reading game next weekend also - the only one we struggled to get tickets for (understandably) was the visit of Manchester United. As an aside to these cheap prices, I can also buy a Season ticket in the Family Area for around £370.00 for both myself and my Son, which works out pretty much bang on £20 per game, which is affordable for that level of football.
There are ways and means for the Football Clubs to offer tickets to fans at cheaper rates, I am fortunate enough to support a club that offers cheap tickets as a way to get the younger generation through the doors and supporting at a younger age, which is a great idea, and one that a few others about should take note of.
Andy Lee (Newcastle United Fan - wondering what to do as my son now wants a Demba Ba Chelsea shirt for when they visit St James in 3 weeks.....)
Matt For PM
"Matt (I'm only 27, but sometimes I feel like such a moany old man) AFC" -
You sir, have nailed it. All those empty seats everywhere - buses, trains, cinemas....just make it cheaper. Simple. Please run for government.
Stuart (Didn't plan on living beyond 21.12.12. Really want to die.) MUFC
Football Is Expensive Because It Has To Be
I just want to throw my two penneth into the ticket prices row. I'm of the opinion that it's upsetting to see the average fan more or less forced to give up going to a PL football match of a weekend because of the prices. The thing is, all the time money is being poured into football the quality of the sport improves in parallel; the PL can now afford to bring almost all of the world's best players to our league and pay them the wages they demand; the pitches are like carpets as clubs can take every measure to keep them as such, which allows for better football to be played; and the stadia and facilities have become world-class - I know longer fear peeing at the footy.
To continue improving, revenue must increase in every way possible, including gate prices, and since the waiting list for tickets at clubs like Arsenal is pretty much double the capacity, they can afford to charge such fees - people will pay. A sad reality but we either pay through the nose for class, or return to the days of heavy wet balls, swampy pitches and dilapidated grounds.
With regard to the lower leagues, and the example of Colchester United, it's simple mathematically. As it stands, Colchester charge an average of £21 to their 3,500, and you can add an average of £3 per fan on food, merchandise etc, bringing their match-day revenue to £84,000. Let's say they drop their average price from £21 to half that, £10.50, they would likely see an increase of around 50% attendance to 5,250 (anything above that is highly unlikely, regardless of price), keep the £3 a head on food etc and their revenue would then be £70,875. Further to this, they would presumably need at the very least 25% and possibly even 50% more staff and police.
This would further dent this revenue by at least £10,000, leaving their revenue at around £60,875, a deficit of £23,125 which is a 27.5% decrease from the original, and 632.5% in total over the 23 home games in a season. This is likely more than enough to sink a club like Colchester United, who, as they seldom appear on TV, rely very heavily on match-day income. I went through the effort of working this out when I turned up at Brentford last season and refused to join the other 6,500 folk in an 11,000 seat stadium paying £25 to watch 22 men 'hit the channel'.
To summarise my boring spiel: football is expensive because it has to be.
Scott (it took approx 18% of my working day to write this), London
Capping Away Tickets
Andy D, Manchester, MCFC asks where the downside is in having a maximum away ticket price for PL games of, say, 30 quid. Well I think the club finance directors would see the downside pretty clearly. Instead of selling tickets for, say, 50 quid, they'd be selling tickets for 30 quid. And guess what, those 30 quid tickets would magically appear for sale on ebay and various side-streets for - that's right - 50 quid, because that's what they're actually worth, as proven by (mostly) sold out grounds for big name clubs. It would also be much, much harder to get tickets because if they were (initially) selling for 30 quid the demand would go through the roof. So that's the downside searched for and discovered right there, I hope you're okay with that Andy.
Meanwhile, Mat, AFC discusses Colchester United's pricing scheme, and points out they get 3,469 fans on average with ticket prices between 18 and 24 quid, with the implied idea that they'd get more into the ground if they lowered their prices. But at the moment they're averaging roughly 73 grand revenue per home game - if they sold tickets for an average 10 quid, they'd need to more than double their attendance just to get the same earn. Are there really more than seven thousand people who want to see Colchester United every home game? If so, I imagine the mental health service would need to be very well organized in that part of Essex.
Mark H, NFFC
Football Ain't Entertainment
Late to the game on ticket prices I know, but please consider this train of thought:
Football is not at its heart, "entertainment".
Football is a competition where a series of clubs compete against each other. This goes through from Sunday league right up to the CL. Once a team reaches a certain level of quality or fame, people will want to go see them. Therefore they start selling tickets to get a bit of money from this revenue stream, which they can then reinvest back into the team to make them more competitive and achieve ambition, and whole raison d'etre - winning.
You would not begrudge a non-League side charging £3 instead of £1 for a pie because they judge that to be the most profitable price they can set (based on units shifted to value ratio), so why would you judge Arsenal for setting their ticket prices to a level where they basically sell out every week, and maximise their revenues, and therefore their chances of winning? It's all just an angle of fair competition.
Of course, it's easy for City fans, whose club don't actually have to earn their competitiveness, to say that the prices should be cheaper, but try asking an Arsenal fan if they'd accept ticket prices being arbitrarily lowered "just to be nice to the fans", but in exchange dropping into mid table obscurity. To be fair that may happen anyway, but then hey presto, with the smart business brains that clearly reside at that club they'll probably adjust the prices again to ensure their revenues stay up, which may mean lowering them.
Every club's life started with the same simple goal of winning football matches, and just because some fans at some point 80 years ago decided to come along for the ride doesn't change that - they should still do whatever is going to fairly maximise their chances of winning on the pitch - be it selling homemade scarves out of your car boot on a Sunday morning, to charging £60 for a ticket.
If my club could fill the ground selling tickets for £400 a game, I'd accept it, and encourage them to do so, even if it meant I couldn't go, simple because it would give us an incredible competitive advantage, fairly gained.
Fans follow success - success doesn't follow fans.
As the City boycott discussion is still ongoing, I think it's still fair game to reply to a couple of points raised in this morning's mailbox.
Andy D asks why can't away tickets be capped at £30 for all games - the reason for this is that PL rules state that home & away fans must be charged to same prices (for the same ticket bracket). Therefore, if a £30 limit were to be imposed, the resulting loss of income from changing the pricing structure would be catastrophic for several clubs (and even at Arsenal, Man Utd and other clubs in the black, it would be severely felt).
A discussion in the Guardian yesterday suggested that this boycott is not entirely as it seems. According to certain City fans, they were not offered tickets as the club decided to hand back the tickets to Arsenal without offering them to fans, based on perceived uptake from season ticket holders who get priority in buying away tickets. If this is the case, and it would be great if a city fan could confirm/deny, then the reason given for the boycott is disingenuous and has nowt to do with the fan groups or the informal discussions on twitter etc mentioned this morning. Again, under PL rules, City are responsible for paying for any tickets they request but cannot sell, so if this story is true, then they second-guessed their fans by not requesting the tickets, rather than putting them up for sale.
I actually think City fans are being a little cheeky - they sold out their allocation at Chelsea a few weeks ago at £55-59 a ticket, with identical travel and food/drink costs (in a far less comfortable stadium). Are we to believe that the extra £3 is the problem here?
Finally, this problem is most acutely felt by fans of the "big" clubs who get overcharged everywhere, but is it fair that when reciprocated, the tickets may be cheaper? The example used is QPR, who paid very little to come to the Emirates, but charged £72 last season for Arsenal fans, and £55 this season.
That said, I'd love football to be cheaper from a selfish view - something along the German or Italian lines would be grand
Rich (Apparently some non-league grounds charge £16+...that's proportionately worse!), London, AFC
Michu Is Staying
Re: Jaz Gooner. Nobody is being linked with Michu at the moment because Laudrup has stated that we value him at £30m, not sub-£20m. There seems to be some consternation amongst fans of 'bigger' sides that they didn't sign him in the summer, but that's their own fault. Michu was touted around every club in the league, and it was only ourselves and Southampton that were interested at the time. I'm sure there are many managers that are kicking themselves, but that's life. You win some, you lose some.
It doesn't mean however that we should automatically sell one of our best players to a 'bigger' club just because they want him (if he were already at a club like Arsenal, having scored 16 goals already this season you'd be valuing him at £30m+). He has a valuation, and until someone meets it, this is all just a cow's opinion. It must be added though, that even if someone did match the £30m, Michu has stated that he loves it at Swansea becuase he plays almost every minute of every game, he is playing for one of the true legends of football and becuase the small, family, atmosphere of the club reminds him of his beloved Real Oviedo.
Yes money talks in the modern game, and I wouldn't be hugely suprised to see Michu go in the summer if he carries on in this form - but I very much doubt he'll be going anywhere this month.
James, SCFC but exiled in Redbird country
If we're still doing embarrasing adverts then this cringeworthy one from Figo takes some beating! Particularly memorable to me as the advert was apalling enough to warrant its own point my first mailbox entry to be published (conclusions on an England game). Enjoy!
Mike, League 2, BRFC
...Just to add my twopenneth on the "worst advert a footballer has ever done" debate,
I have to say the worst I remember seeing was in the wake of England's exit from Euro '96, with Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle (who missed penalties in England's exit from Italia '90) taking Gareth Southgate out for a consolation meal at Pizza Hut.
I can't decide if it's "so bad it's good", or if it's just "so bad..."
Terry Hall, Switzerland
An Answer, Followed By An Odd Question
Re Darragh's question this morning, Ray Kennedy transferred to Swansea in 1982 from Liverpool. Swansea were relegated but he had played enough games to qualify for a medal for Liverpool who won the league.
I too have a question. Who is the tall man with grey hair that is always sitting or standing near the team benches. Its not just at Premier league games, he was there during the Bradford v Villa game on Tuesday.
James ( One Job on Teesside )Clarke, Dundalk
Am I the only gentleman who much thinks Ronaldo is far superior to Messi? Bear with me on this...
Ronaldo is better because hes adaptable. That is the only trait that is needed. Ronaldo has proven that he can play in both the EPL and La Liga, the best two leagues in the world. With different teammates, tactics and philosophies. In both teams he became the number one player, single handedly winning titles for Man Utd and evolving at the pressure cooker of Real Madrid in (allegedly) the best league in the world ,also not forgetting the rivalry between the Spanish and Portuguese nationals which arguably makes his rise there all the more impressive. Ronaldo also can change his game instantly and adapt to who he is facing to result in goals or assists.
Now look at Messi, been in the same environment, tactics and personnel since the age of 13. Everything is built around him to get the best out of him. He, like Barca, only has one way to play, should they go 1-0 down, Barca won't change their style and neither will Messi. This is even clearer when he plays for Argentina. No doubt still world class, but without the 'Barca Way' and a team that grew up together Messi can look a different player. Of course Barca and Messi should be dominating the game, they all be together since they were young-uns, had years to learn each other's games and how to play.
What does the mailbox think?
T J (He would also look better as a statue)