Today my Europa League ticket arrived. I wasn’t expecting this – assumed they’d be loaded onto S/T as usual – but the early start must have some impact on how these things are implemented. How exciting anyway, the new season underway and I’ll be there.
I’ll also be at the Olympics, but only just. We, like many people, went in for the initial ballot. Wary of over-committing ourselves (they said to make sure you had funds available for tickets you applied for) we registerd for £120 worth of tickets, something we could afford for a special occasion like this.
Later it turns out that to actually get to see something you want to see you probably had to apply for something between £1,000 and £3,000 worth of tickets (this is what the lucky few who I’ve met seem to have put up). People seem to be missing this in the “is it fair?” debates. Yes, Sebastian Coe, of course not everyone can expect to see the events – the sums don’t add up – but it just so happens that the most likely to see the games are those who had £3,000+ available in case they won all their tickets. It’s an Olympic games for the wealthy.
So Lord (!) Coe goes on tv and explains how fair it all is under the circumstances and explains how they’re doing all they can to give people a ‘second chance’. Well we got up at 6 this morning and after clicking through the Judo and the Handball and the Synchronised Swimming decided that it wasn’t for us. Only some events are child friendly (e.g. you don’t have to pay full price for a one year old to go (!)) and those were all sold out anyway, even for sports we weren’t remotely interested in (is that our own fault then? Being so choosy? Maybe, it’s a tricky issue. Ultimately we didn’t want to watch the walking or the women’s weightlifting; maybe this invalidates my whole rant, I don’t know).
So….. my sister proposed that we might join her and her boyfriend at the women’s football semi-final at Wembley. Stanley can go for £1 (it’d be £30 for the final) and at least it means we’ll have seen some Olympics. We’ll go with Sarah and Dave, semi-finals are often more exciting than finals anyway, and the standard should be pretty good. I’m sure I can get Stan a tacky Olympic sun-visor or something.
I’m aware that there’s a sense of entitlement to what I’m writing. In years gone by people wouldn’t think twice about not being able to go to the games. People would accept that tickets are scarce and not everyone can get them and well, good luck to those who manage. But there’s something about the way it’s been sold to us, particularly in London: yes, we’ve wasted billions on two weeks of sport, but at least you can enjoy it when it’s here. They Olympics! In London! Yay us. And then the time comes and actually you can’t go after all but Sebastian Coe’s done his best and we’re all very sorry but it was a ballot after all and ballots are fair aren’t they? No, not if some can have far more entries than others, they’re not. (And I didn’t get upset when for a long time I couldn’t get Germany 2006 World Cup tickets because the system seemed perfectly fair: tickets were pricey, but those who were well prepared and then prepared to persevere were rewarded with tickets (as were we eventually: Iran v Angola and Ukraine v Saudi Arabia! But we were there and we had fun).)
To put the tin lid on it, I read tonight that Bradley Wiggins is struggling for tickets:
Wiggins also directed his ire at the “shambles” of an Olympic ticketing process during which he has been luckless. “It’s a shame really, isn’t it? Coming from London and growing up in London you’d always sort of imagine that your family would be able to watch you in the velodrome, win a gold medal. Obviously that’s not to be at the moment.
“So it is a shame and I’m now looking at maybe doing the individual road time trial just so they can poke their heads over the barriers and watch, because that’s free of course.
“We’re just the athletes. I think we’re low down the list in the whole thing. I think the whole corporate thing is probably obviously what pays for the Olympics and I think that’s where most of it has gone.”
It’s been a complete fuck up. We’ll enjoy the women’s football and will watch what we can on TV, but until the feelgood factor hits us (and you can be sure that the government and every commercial entity in the British Isles will be feeding us happy vibes by whatever means possible, fair or foul) I’m going to remain my usual grumpy self.
I was going to go the full Daily Mail and suggest that it sums up the country today, but instead let’s take this as an opportunity to praise football. Football gets a lot of stick – rightly – but generally is well organised and fan-orientated. Seriously, I know people get upset about stewarding and pricing and Monday night fixtures, but these issues seem trifling compared to the Olympic fiasco. I can’t wait for the season to start. The Premier League is far from Olympian in its values and it is a complete shower on so many levels, but at least it is inclusive and does bring a lot of joy to those of us it is openly ripping off.