Come On Bud, This Is Your Moment
The FA Cup final is scheduled for a 5.15pm kick off, causing a real problem for fans of both teams. This is Budweiser’s chance to do something great. Will they take it?
Note the ’7pm run’ in this great piece by Daniel Taylor in The Observer who suggested the decision was made by people ”oblivious to the hassles and costs and disruption it meant for so many of those people who still like to go to watch football in person, the old?fashioned way”.
It mirrors a point in The Times by Oliver Kay ‘Fans who no longer pay wages cannot expect to call the tune’. Only 10% of Man City’s income is from match-day sources. Wigan makes 7%. Both figures will fall as the next TV deals roll in.
Both pieces position the FA’s sponsors as part of the problem. This from Taylor:
For starters, that bit about there being “only a minimal amount of fans” from the north who get the train for games at Wembley. Well, there will be even fewer this year, that’s for sure, now it has been arranged so there are no suitable services for the supporters of Wigan Athletic and Manchester City to get back. But your research seems flawed anyway, if you don’t mind me saying. Unless I just dreamed up all those moments – “the 7pm run”, Gary Neville, one of your own these days, calls it – when the platforms for Piccadilly or Lime Street are announced and Euston has its own Encierro. It’s not pretty, I can tell you.
Still, there’s always National Express, as you keep reminding us. That’s National Express, your Official Coach Partner, right? Except I rang that expensive number on Thursday and Friday and both times, after 15 minutes on hold, the person at the other end of the line didn’t have any details. Their website says there will be at least one coach for each set of supporters but, when I asked their press office to specify if any more would be put on, they could not be sure.
There is, however, a coach that leaves London Victoria at 11.30pm and once it has stopped at Golders Green, Luton Airport, Luton, Milton Keynes, Coventry, Birmingham airport, Birmingham, Dudley, Wolverhampton, Penkridge (no kidding), Manchester airport and Stockport you could be back in Manchester by 5.40am. It’s one hell of a schlepp – six hours and 10 minutes, to be precise – but you know the price of London hotels and football’s expensive enough already, isn’t it? And, besides, there is another coach at 12.30am if you don’t mind changing at Birmingham and adding another 40 minutes to the journey. How much are National Express paying you, by the way?
Elsewhere in the piece, further evidence that commercialisation of sport is to the detriment of ‘real fans’.
Nobody really likes the semi-finals being staged at Wembley or that a lot of the people who get freebies at the expense of real fans these days have to be coaxed out of the bars after half-time. Or – a small thing, perhaps – that the FA Cup’s ribbons have been sold off and now come with Budweiser’s name attached.
I’m always a bit wary of talking of ‘real fans’, a mythical group who are romanticised and monetised in equal measure whenever the opportunity arises, by rights holders, sponsors and the media.
It is a real issue. A big problem that goes to the very heart of the business of sport. Running through the coverage is a voice saying, this is a TV scheduling thing and the little people have been done over once again by big faceless corporations.
Budweiser and National Express have paid millions to have their name attached to the trophy, its history and traditions. There has been much money spent activating the rights, trying to build some type of association using clever media and digital means.
But why not do the right thing here?
Copy Capital One’s approach to the League Cup sponsorshipwhen they paid for travel for away fans.
How much would it cost to get both sets of fans to Wembley and back? In the scheme of things? Given Bud’s marketing budget?
Sponsors tend to get a kicking at times like these. There aren’t many chances to be a hero.
One has presented itself. What are you waiting for?