Seagulls Over Burwash Article – March 2018

Facts and Figures, Tense Times and Internet Trouble

The Union of European Football Associations, otherwise known as UEFA, has recently published its Club Licensing Benchmarking Report, part of the European Club Footballing Landscape review that UEFA undertakes. The benchmarking report looks at the financial side of European football, based on the 2016 figures. Now, to the majority of the readers of this parish mag, that might sound like the most stultifyingly boring subject known to man, let alone women, and, having glanced through the document by way of ‘research’, I can assure you that it is! However, there are a few interesting facts that can be extricated from the dirge….…..

England is the most expensive place in Europe to watch football. No surprise there. I have just received my season ticket renewal and the per game cost is now £32 for a mid range seat. The average cost for a Premiership ticket in 2016 was even more expensive at £44.50, 40% higher than the European top flight average. In Scotland it was £19.20 whilst in Wales it was £3.20. Well, in the case of the latter, you get what you pay for I suppose. Have you been to Prestatyn recently?

The Premier League has the highest overall supporter attendance total. In 2016, over 13.5 million people attended Premier League matches. Wow! Even more surprising was that the English Championship was third in the aggregate attendance list with over 11 million attendees. However, the German Bundesliga had the highest average attendance of 41,516 but there are only 18 teams and, therefore, play fewer games than in the English leagues and the total is lower than the Premier League.

The Premier League has the highest wage bill in Europe. Given the ridiculous wages that Alexis Sanchez is now being paid at Manchester United, an alleged £500,000 per week, this is also no surprise. Even in 2016, the average wage bill for a club’s players was £136.7 million, twice that of the next highest paying league, the German Bundesliga. This reflects the amount of TV revenue received by the leagues. With the new, multi-billion pound TV deal the Premier League has negotiated, imagine what the wages will be now!

Sadly, this UEFA report didn’t investigate the important aspect of European football. For example, the best European half time pie? Piglets Pantry steak and ale, of course, exclusive to the Amex. Highest quality preparatory beverage? No contest. Harvey’s Best of course, and I am sure the Germans and Belgians would agree. Most rousing pre-match anthem? Well, it has to be Good Old Sussex By The Sea, no doubt about it (You’ll never walk a what? Never heard of it!).

Meanwhile, on the football pitch, things are getting no less tense. The battle to avoid relegation is hotting up and there is still no indication of which teams might succumb. As I mentioned in my last missive, any team from 9th place downwards could get dragged into the relegation dogfight. As I write, three points (one win) separates the relegation zone and 12th position. It is sooo tight! And there is no guessing who will beat who. For example, one minute Swansea were ‘doomed’ at the bottom of the table, the next they beat Liverpool and Arsenal. That shouldn’t have happened!

Brighton completed their first Premier League double recently by beating West Ham 3 – 1 at the Amex. This followed their 3 – 0 victory at the West Ham’s huge, but decidedly soulless, London Stadium home back in October. So that’s six points out of a possible six from the Hammers. It’s a shame we can’t play them every week!

The matches in March are going to be tough for the Seagulls. Any points from the games against Arsenal and Manchester City will be a bonus. The 2016 Champions, Leicester City, visit the Amex at the end of March. On their day, they can still beat any team but, such is their inconsistency, if you catch them on an ‘off’ day, there may be points for the taking. Potentially the most important game of the month will be away at Everton. Despite sacking their manager and employing Big Sam Allardyce, the Toffees are still in danger and are currently three points above the Albion but with an inferior goal difference. This is likely to be another six-pointer that could ultimately determine the fate of both clubs.

Away from the stresses of the league, the FA Cup has provided a welcome distraction. The recent 3 – 1 win over former cup winners but now League Two Coventry City has set up a quarter final clash with Manchester United. This is the first time Brighton have progressed so far in the competition since 1986. The match against Coventry City provided the setting for the Albion’s record signing, Jurgen Locadia, to make his debut. He had an instant impact. He hit the post with his second touch of the game and went one better on 15 minutes by hitting the back of the net. Also encouraging was the sight of Leo Ulloa, recently returned from Leicester, scoring with a powerful header. With 11 games to go it seems manager Chris Hughton has now got some good options in attack. Hopefully that will translate to more goals, more league points and a comfortable survival in the Premier League. As well as winning the FA Cup of course.

Finally, I feel I need to make two apologies. Firstly, to all Seagulls Over Burwash members who have been trying to communicate with our much revered chairman, Mr Teskey O’Neil. Having recently moved house and been assured by BT that the transfer of his phone and internet would be seamless, he has been left with neither. Thus, all communications regarding coach bookings, tickets, travel times etc have been through yours truly. Consequently, chaos has reigned. My second apology goes to the patrons of the Burwash Internet Café who have had to put up with the aforementioned Mr O’Neil who has become something of a feature since his home internet has been defunct. It’s not his chuntering and cursing at the screen as the “new fangled technology” doesn’t do what he wants that upsets his fellow silver-surfers but the relentless chatter about football scores, league tables, attributes of the Brighton players, disallowed goal, refereeing decision, the colour of the away strip, the paint they use to mark out the pitch, Gary Lineker’s beard….. oh my word, he does go on! Come on BT, get your act together and enable Teskey to run Seagulls Over Burwash properly and let the residents of Burwash have some peace!

Seagulls Over Burwash arrange coach travel to all Brighton and Hove Albion home games and selected away matches. For further information on joining Seagulls Over Burwash and details of forthcoming events, meetings or coach travel, please visit our website at or email me at Alternatively, contact SOB Chairman, Teskey O’Neil, on 01435 882357 or


Simon Forster