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Wednesday, 30 December 2009


White Hart Lane, Copyright 2009 agachiri
Kenya's '...football heroes live in satellite TV,' according to an article in the Online Daily Nation. The same is perhaps true for other countries in the entire globe, with the exception of USA.

The English Premier League defies rational explanation as to why its popularity has so permeated every corner of the world.

The Independent says hundreds of millions in more than 200 countries tune in to watch teams battle it out for  the Barclays Premier League title.

But that is not to say that the game has anything less than a fanatical following in its home soil. Football here, is likened to a religion with devoted supporters, who constantly cheer their team, whether it is losing or winning.

First hand encounter with lucrative English football
                                           White Hart Lane, Copyright 2009 agachiri
As I arrive at White Hart Lane, home to Tottenham Hotspur, the first thing that hits me is the location of the stadium. Right in the middle of a built up area of residential and business premises. The easy access provided by a dedicated underground tube, railway and bus service is a big plus.

The fans are not your usual sporadic supporters. Most of them hold season's tickets, never mind that it is only in the current year that Tottenham Hotspur are giving a good account of themselves and challenging for top finishes.

The stadium can sit well over 35,000 spectators and because they so regularly attend the matches, so many of the fans are on a first name basis with each other. After all, the season ticket holders get allocated specific seats and are thus match-day neighbours.

If the stadium is nearly always getting to full capacity and a match ticket averages Ksh 5,000, coupled with the massive TV sponsorship deals, you then begin to understand how some football players can be paid more than Ksh 10 million every week.

A single match can yield in excess of Ksh 150 million in ticket sales. And there is also merchandising revenue and hospitality packages. Match tickets for games involving top teams can easily surpass an equivalent of rent money in Nairobi.

English football reflects global diversity

Many clubs in the EPL enlist the services of players from many countries, languages and cultures. It at times amazes pundits that a coach can be able to pass on instruction in such a Biblical Babel-like scenario.

Players in top teams like Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal  or Liverpool can very easily form a UN mini-assembly on their own.

In many matches, you can easily have players from Ivory Coast, Argentina, Brazil, a Spaniard, French, Ghanaian, Dutch, German, Russian, Italian, Nigerian, American, Croatian, South Korean, Cameroonian, Danish, Uruguayan, Bulgarian, Togolese, the British and many other nationalities.

It is as if every country in the world can claim to be represented in the EPL. And even some real owners of the clubs do not hold a British passport. This universality attribute no doubt aides the game's global appeal.

English football aura of majesty
White Hart Lane, Copyright 2009 agachiri

As the Tottenham vs Manchester City game was progressing, I momentarily would be awe-struck, coming from my many years of watching the EPL on television.

It was hard for my mind to process that right there in front of me, were the likes of Robinho, Carlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor, dueling with Peter Crouch, Aaron Lennon or Jermaine Defoe for scoring honours.

The adrenaline rush as home supporters rise to their feet whenever Tottenham were about to score, the constant singing, cursing and electrifying mood, are some of the facets of the game that get transposed to television sets across the planet.

It is not just about patriotism, which by default, is the cornerstone of many Kenyan football supporters. Here it is about pure passion and love for the beautiful game.

Which serious advertiser would not want to cash in on such a disciplined and highly organized game of football?

Security a top priority in English football

Since the early eighties, when I first  ventured into stadiums to watch a football match in Kenya, never have I seen fans being seriously screened before accessing the venue.                                   
                                      White Hart Lane, Copyright 2009 agachiri

This oversight would consequently lead to all manner of missiles surfacing in the frequent event of there being a dispute.

But in the UK, alcohol is expressly banned from being consumed in the stands and even bottles of any kind have to be discarded before entry is allowed.

Every drink has to be poured into a plastic glass, which event stewards duly supply on request.

The first step in reviving Kenya's football fortunes? Get organized!!


Rabble Rouser said...

Good read.

Anonymous said...

The making of football 101 in 90minutes. Good Stuff.

Maroussia said...

It will be great to watch Arsenal, i have bought tickets from
http://ticketfront.com/event/Arsenal-tickets looking forward to it.