If you think it’s barely possible for our already revenue-obsessed clubs to exploit fans further, then you weren’t at FedEx Field just outside Washington DC on Saturday night to watch Barcelona play Man Utd in yet another US summer exhibition. I’ve seen the future of top-level club football, and it’s worse than you might ever have imagined.
If the spectators at this lukewarm spectacle were any indication, top-level clubs may be set to take the concept of Football Tourism to a whole new level. First, almost everyone will be wearing expensive replica shirts, complete with player names and numbers printed on the back, while clutching a plastic bag of merchandise they fought through swarms to purchase from multiple undermanned souvenir outlets. Second, they will not mind being 30 minutes late for the game, because it’s the occasion that counts, not the game itself. By the same token, they are happy to turn their backs on the pitch in order to have themselves photographed with the action in the background, and screw anyone whose vision of the game is blocked.