It has been recently revealed in the British press that some fans of Liverpool Football Club have formed a breakaway football club—AFC Liverpool.
Unlike AFC Wimbledon (formed amidst the fury of Milton Keynes stealing an entire football club) and FC United (formed by Manchester United fans unhappy with the Malcolm Glazer ownership), AFC Liverpool have not been created due to disagreements with club decisions and ownership.
They have been formed merely to give the next generation of football fans a true sense of what it is to support a football club.
The simple and sad fact is that football, particularly for premier league fans, has become a very expensive pastime. The age old tradition of working class fathers taking their wide-eyed sons and daughters to see their heroes is becoming as outdated as Bovril and rattles.
A lot of parents simply can’t afford to take their children to games anymore. This has led to an alarming reduction in the numbers of children attending matches.
Statistics now show that the average age of a premier league fan actually attending matches has risen to 43.
The vast quantities of matches shown on television, combined with the extreme exposure of football in the media, means that young fans will still follow teams in massive numbers.
The good news for clubs is that this means they will still buy the shirts and commemorative mugs every time their team reaches a cup fifth round!
But is it really fair that young fans can believe themselves to be true fans of football, though they've never had the opportunity to soak up match day atmosphere?
This obviously isn’t their fault. To some degree it isn’t even the fault of the clubs. Football has grown so big that clubs simply cannot afford to be left behind.
The majority of fans scream for big signings such as Fernando Torres at Liverpool, or Wayne Rooney at Manchester United. But these players are not cheap. The financial truth is that this is leaving many numbers of true fans behind.
For this reason alone AFC Liverpool has my full backing. I think it is a fantastic idea.
Kids and adults alike will now have the opportunity to attend real matches. To sit along with their friends and watch the beautiful game in person.
It might not have the glamour of Anfield, but football can amaze and entertain from World Cup finals to kickabouts in the park. After all, that is the game's true quality.
More Liverpool fans can now watch football games without financial worry. They can also do it without feeling the guilt of supporting another club.
AFC Liverpool are hardly going to cause their Big Brothers any trouble plying their trade in the Vodkat North West Counties League Division Two!
My hope is that Liverpool recognize and support their new club. It is, after all, their fans who are behind it.
Giving kids the opportunity to fall in love with football again is crucial to the development of the game in England.
It's getting harder and harder to become the new Steven Gerrard, and this can deter some youung fans. It is certainly easier for them to imagine themselves playing in in the Vodkat North West County league.
If more kids have realistic goals to aim for, then the next step could see more and more Rooneys and Gerrards coming through.
Let's hope so.
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