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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Chelsea Catering Success - "But QPR Get It Wrong"

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[Note/Correction: I originally posted the author as MARK Dennis. Profound apologies. I should have written MICK Dennis.]

Mick Dennis/Daily Express - April 14, 2009 - CHELSEA SHOW WAY TO BE PRAWN-AGAIN
- LIVERPOOL fans should look at the swanky Stamford Bridge boxes tonight, where Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and others will be scoffing before the match and boozing at half-time.
- Those in expensive seats who eat posh nosh at football are despised by "real" fans but, with all our Champions League clubs in action today and tomorrow, this is a good moment to explain some economics - and to rehabilitate the prawn sandwich.
- That seafood snack gets fresh abuse in the film The Damned United, which portrays Brian Clough chastising Derby directors for wallowing in luxury suites with "prawn sandwiches".
- That fictitious rant is inspired by Roy Keane, of course.
- He blamed the lack of atmosphere at Old Trafford on the "prawn sandwich brigade". That was back in 2000, and the blameless item of refreshment has been sneered at ever since by football folk who loathe the freeloaders in corporate boxes.
- But, as with his wilder tackles, Keane's criticism was unthinking and unreasonable.
- Only the cheapest executive boxes serve anything so modest as sandwiches and the food and drink in those boxes certainly is not free. Someone always pays, and in doing so subsidises those "real" fans.
- Chelsea raked in £74.5 million last season from executive patrons.
- Without that sum, the club's deficit would have doubled.
- Over at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium, they've taken corporate entertaining to another level - the level of seating half-way up the side of the stands. There are 7,000 of those "premium" seats with access to expensive restaurants.
- And, boy, the punters pay a premium. Last season they generated £94.6m - more than £13,500 from each seat.
- Even that is peanuts compared with Old Trafford, where they don't actually serve anything as naff as peanuts and where, after Keane's comment, they avoid prawn sandwiches.
- There are 9,000 premium seats at United. They generate £3m a game.
- Liverpool are the worst of our Champions League contenders at courting the corporates. Anfield has only 2,800 posh seats. They make an insignificant contribution to receipts which only total about £1.78m every game.
- So there are three uncomfortable truths. Firstly, until Anfield, with a paltry capacity of 46,000, is replaced, Liverpool will always be scrabbling for financial crumbs while the other clubs in the 'big four' feast.
- Secondly, without executive boxes and premium seats, the rest of us would all be paying more.
- And finally, I know we've got more important issues on our plate at the moment, but it is time to stop picking on the prawn sandwich.

...But QPR Get it wrong
-Anyone looking from the outside can see how asinine the board of Queens Park Rangers have been - getting through four managers in a year and a half, telling experienced football men who to pick, letting good men go out on loan, making zero impact on the Championship and alienating loyal fans with big ticket-price rises
But you have to go to Loftus Road to see the extent of the self-indulgence of the fabulously wealthy chaps who own the club. The corporate area of the club has been tarted up extravagantly. That's not a bad thing. But nothing has been spent on the stands used by ordinary mug fans. QPR fans don't like me. Fair enough. But they deserve better to be treated with disdain." Express

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