Biddulph Cllr Connor Brady: "Young and working class people are being priced out of live sport"

  Posted: 04.08.21 at 17:46 by Connor Brady

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Thank you to Biddulph's Cllr Connor Brady for this article. Connor says accessibility is key to making younger fans fall in love with sports - not new formats like The Hundred and European Super League.

The key to the next generation falling in love with football and cricket is actually making it accessible to all, not making formats shorter.

Last week I went to my first ever cricket match to see the Birmingham Phoenix win the Trent Rockets in England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) new format The Hundred which is essentially the T20 format of cricket but with 5 ball overs.

The ECB have set up this competition with the idea to attract people who don’t usually watch cricket and want shorter matches.

It is similar to one reason that Real Madrid President wanted to start the European Super League a few months ago. Defending the decision to try and set up the league which would destroy pyramid football in this country, Perez said that “young people are no longer interested in football” and suggested matches were too long for them.

However, this attention span argument from sporting leaders is a hugely condescending and arrogant way to treat young people and completely misses the reality stopping the growth of sports.

The real way for sports that I enjoy like cricket, football, and Formula 1 to grow their fan base is to become more accessible to all people instead of their focus being endlessly on profit. I fell in love with Formula 1 as I was growing up watching it with my dad on ITV, BBC, and then Channel 4, the same with cricket as I grew up watching the biggest t20 tournament on ITV4.

Now almost all football, cricket and F1 is behind the paywall of Sky Sports and BT Sport. When F1 moved to exclusive Sky Sports rights, the sport lost 8.6 million viewers in Britain as Channel 4 moved to highlights only.

When Channel 4 hosted live English test cricket after a 16-year absence back in March it reached 5.8m viewers with 1 million of those under 35 and it drew in 10% of the under 16 viewing audience.

However, the first game of The Hundred was free to air on the BBC and Youtube and was the most watched woman’s cricket match in UK History with an audience of 2 million. This is whilst during the Euros 20.9m people watched England beat Ukraine and 31 million people watched
the final on the BBC and ITV.

All showing that there is a huge audience for people interested in watching live sports if they are accessible. It’s certainly time that these sports decided that increasing their audience is more important that increasing prize fund money and ensured free to air rights are guaranteed for a cut price to broadcasters like ITV, Channel 4, and the BBC.

However, this is just to watch sport on the TV and misses the fact that young and working class people are being priced out of live sport. In football the prices of tickets have skyrocketed with 18–24-year-olds only making up 4% of premier league season ticket holders and 80% of young people saying cost was a significant barrier to going to games, with even football and cricket shirts being £70, just to get merchandise for the team you support.

F1 is extortionate with a Sunday ticket to watch the race at Silverstone £185 just for general admission whilst 77% of cricket fans felt as though tickets are overpriced for England games.

Although I really enjoyed going to The Hundred and seeing some of the world’s best cricketers for the first time, what cricket, formula 1, and football need isn’t some different new formats and concepts, but just the same sport we all know and love in a more affordable and accessible way.

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