While the Premier League's influence increases all over the world, high television revenues have turned clubs into global, powerful businesses.
However, in the background, the sinister consequences of having to pay extravagant wages and cover mundane fixed costs, has had an impact on the wallet of the most important cog in the cycle; the supporters.
Gone are the days of 3p cups of tea and a traditional red and white kit replaced only after years of wear and tear.
Three New Kits
Arsenal's new kit sponsor Puma, who joined forces with the club last month, announced last week that they will release three new kits every season.
A Daily Mail report quotes the club spokesman claiming at Thursday’s kit launch that they changed, “the charter for transparency reasons. There is a huge demand from our fans for new kit every year, similar to other clubs.’
“Kits will have a life-span of one season.”
In other words, a fan will have to fork out £50, coupled with £16 for a name and number, in order to look the part of 2014/2015. Not to mention club staff’s vigorous attempts at making one purchase a Champions League or Premier League arm patch for an extra £4.
Then, after what will be an unpredictable campaign, the fans will have to do the same all over again a year later.
Taken for a ride
With over the top launch parties, huge efforts into promotion and a flamboyant third kit to top it all off, the average fan is being priced out of footballing merchandise.
The club’s new range also saw the introduction of a new fan scarf. Always seen as the traditional red and white stripes while two years ago introduced a hint of blue, the current design has scrapped the classic with a hideous product that wouldn’t look out of place at a cheap replica market.
The truth is, with millions exposed to Internet campaigns, promotional efforts and the social instinct of wanting to have the latest fashion, it is likely that fans will spend over their budget and purchase the new kit.
Nine years of hurt
Although down to personal choice, it’s about time the club started to reach out to the loyal supporters who could have parted company when the going got tough.
It’s about time the club starting reaching out to those who had to watch Fabianski hand Chelsea a place in the FA Cup Wembley showpiece, watch Gibbs’ slip rob the Gunners of potential Champions League final or spend countless hours watching Bendtner and Almunia do their best impressions of Fawlty Towers.
A season ticket at the Emirates can cover a player’s hourly wage, whether they are working out, eating, sleeping, smoking or guzzling down alcohol while kissing England goalkeepers.
Pouncing for Puma
It isn’t just Arsenal, it’s a worldwide problem and until clubs start valuing their fans as more than customers, the supporters should not be pushed over.
If Puma can deliver with lowering kit prices while funding the club to provide show-stopping performances on the pitch, you can be sure that fans will be pouncing for a new kit when the upcoming season arrives.