VOICE OF THE FENS: Money rules football at every level, just ask Wisbech Town
DISILLUSIONED football fans have flocked to support non-league clubs since Rupert Murdoch’s machine BSkyB took control of the English game in the 90s.
Thousands of hard-up supporters have refused to pay rocketing ticket prices to attend games which kick-off at any given hour, on any given day.
Fans have become commodities for money-makers and local links have been broken beyond repair as worldwide franchises like Manchester United attract fans from every corner of the globe.
So it’s no wonder that clubs like FC United - set up after the Glazers’ heaped �700million of debt on their beloved Old Trafford team - have formed.
Thousands of men, children and women - like diehard fan Spencer Larham who has only missed one Wisbech Town game in seven years - regularly decide to ignore the bright lights of the Barclays Premier League to follow their local side, in this case the Fenmen.
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Steve Appleby’s side - unquestionably the biggest semi-professional football team in Fenland - are moving in the right direction as they look to move up the non-league pyramid.
But their progress seems to have been threatened this week by a yellow and blue monster down the road, namely fierce rivals King’s Lynn Town. Lynn - backed by businessmen Jonathan and Buster Chapman - are splashing the cash to entice players to their club as they chase footballing glory.
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Fans argue that football at this level is all about local pride for players and supporters. However, with one player leaving Wisbech for Lynn this week and another fans’ favourite set to follow suit it seems a “line you just wouldn’t cross” is easy when there’s a handful of notes at the other end.
Loyalty appears to be dead at every level - minus a few exceptions - and once again it’s the fans who suffer.
Wisbech Town won their first trophy in 16 years earlier this month but success clearly comes at a price - a price which is beginning to feel like it isn’t worth paying.