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One fan’s letter to the FA on ‘England alienation’

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

Steve Askew is just one of many long-term England fans who’ve been in touch with us in recent weeks regarding the FA’s new loyalty system and a sense of disenfranchisement with the way the national team is being run. He copied us in on his correspondence with the FA, and has allowed us to reproduce it here. We’re sure there’ll be many fans who echo some of the points he makes below.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I have been a member of the England supporters club for over a decade and I felt the need to write to you to say how disappointed I am in the way my loyal support has been treated. 

Over the years the FA have become less and less interested in engaging with the club’s members and there seems to be little or no interest in looking after our loyal support. 

The club used to be capped at 25,000. This was partly because we had a much better team than we do now, but it was also no doubt due to the fact that home games were played all over the country giving fans the chance to support their national side without the cost of travelling to Wembley. Living in the north of the country it is impossible for me to get home after a game. Even for Saturday games, which kick off at 5pm, the last train North is 1930 from Euston making it impossible to catch in time. No thought has gone into fans that don’t live in the South East of the country.

I understand the need to pay off the debts involved in building Wembley but surely a couple of games a year in the North isn’t going to make that much difference? The benefits of engaging support for the national side must offset a slight loss in revenue for the FA?

Having been so disappointed along with thousands of others who travelled to Brazil, I come back to find that I have to fork out another £65 for a club that has even less reward for my attendance. Once again I understand the need to sell tickets for games at Wembley but why go out of your way to penalise fans like myself by giving two caps for home games and one for away? Having travelled all over the world to support England, I now find that someone who lives in London and is able to easily wander along to home games with hardly any travel costs will receive double the loyalty reward than I will for travelling to Basel.

I need two days off work, a return train ticket of over £100 and a hotel for the night to attend home games. This smacks to me as the FA having no interest in fans who don’t live within easy reach of Wembley, and is purely interested in shifting a few extra tickets. What is the point in hurting your loyal fans when there are less than 7,000 of us and most will attend a significant amount of home games?

Before Wembley was knocked down fans from my part of the country saw the national side as a Southern only club, matches were too difficult and costly to attend. This all changed when England ‘toured’ the country and numbers of fans swelled by tens of thousands. Now though we find ourselves back at the bad old days of the 80’s and 90’s as once again Northerners are alienated from supporting their national team.

For a number of years I have tried to buck the trend and carry on attending games but it has reached the stage where I am feeling used due to the high cost of tickets and travel and the new loyalty cap system. It has been so disappointing to see our group of more than 20 fans from all parts if the country dwindle to just two of us. 

I’m sure whoever reads this won’t be in the slightest bit interested that one fan from the North may not attend future England games but I still felt the need to air my feelings.

I used to have nothing but positive things to say about following England but now I’d be embarrassed to recommend a friend travel to Wembley to watch a game in the terrible sterile atmosphere that has become the norm. I actually get made fun of for going to home games and sitting among tourists and people who have no idea about football, but these are the people you seem keen on attracting. 

I wish I could see things changing but unfortunately, with the alienation of half the country and proper loyal football fans, I cannot. 

Yours very disillusioned,

Steve Askew

The FSF blog is the space to challenge perceived wisdom, entertain readers and inform our members. The views expressed are those of the author and they don’t necessarily represent FSF policy and (pay attention journalists) shouldn’t be attributed to the FSF.

Thanks to Ben Terrett for the image reproduced under CC license.

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