You’re handed 20 grand. Do you: A) Act sensible and pay off a chunk of the mortgage? B) Act semi-sensible and spend half in Harvey Nicks and the rest on a holiday? Or, C) Head to Wimbledon, sit in the rain and spend the day boiling with rage?
Apparently touts are charging £20,000 each for tickets to see Andy Murray bash a ball over a net with no guarantees that he’ll even come close to winning. As a veteran of the All England Club championships – OK, I went once – don’t bother.
Of course it was pre-children when I actually had money in my purse and travelling anywhere did not mean endless rows about why the Xbox couldn’t come too.
All was good apart from the torrential rain and the fact that our day at Wimbers was one of those when not a single ball was struck.
It wasn’t just the gut-knotting disappointment, it was the ‘no refunds’ policy that made me mad. We didn’t even have Sir Cliff leading the singsong, which on hindsight is something I’d willingly have paid extra to ensure didn’t happen.
Fans were ripped off, chewed up, spat out. The harsh wooden seats were so uncomfortable we ended up paying extra to hire well used rubber cushions to sit on. I’ve done an entire week’s food shop on less than it cost to buy a round of strawberries and cream.
It’s not just Wimbledon. Anyone who spends their Saturday at the football knows paying your way in only buys the action on the pitch. Unlike America where spectators are amused – from stunt-performing dogs to Beyonce at the Super Bowl – here half-time entertainment consists of six groundsmen stamping down divots. Food consists of pie, Bovril and semi-flat cola and, er, that’s it.
Would chucking in something extra really be too much to ask?
Soon The Open will roll into Muirfield. A day out will cost £15 just to park your car and £75 to stand beside the course. If you want a seat beside the 18th green on the final day, you’ll have to find £100 extra.
Those lucky enough to have the hard cash won’t bat an eyelid. The rest of us sit at home, do the sums and decide it’s not worth sacrificing the month’s household budget to see the punter in front’s umbrella.
Yet sport needs spectators, and fans – as we’re seeing at Tynecastle – aren’t just the life and soul of a club or a match or an event, they’re its personal cashpoint machine. Take them away and the sponsors disappear, the big cash prizes vanish and you’re left with not much at all.
If prices can’t come down, then the least those fans who do pay their way deserve is a little bit of respect, consideration and value for money.
Just as long as it’s not Sir Cliff.