CHIPPING IN with Darren Foreman - Fans and punters are being hit in the pockets while players rake in the cash

Darren Foreman's column is sponsored by The Roundel Cafe, Northway, Scarborough
Darren Foreman's column is sponsored by The Roundel Cafe, Northway, Scarborough
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Last week we saw the big-money sponsorship deal between Nike and Rory McIlroy and the issue of ticket prices in football also rose to the fore.

McIlroy’s deal with Nike was the worst kept secret in sport for a while and I don’t think anyone was surprised when it was announced.

Current World Number One golf champion Rory McIlroy poses for a picture during a press conference announcing his partnership with Nike ahead of the 2013 edition of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf championship in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Manuel Salazar)

Current World Number One golf champion Rory McIlroy poses for a picture during a press conference announcing his partnership with Nike ahead of the 2013 edition of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf championship in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Manuel Salazar)

Nike were the only company who were going to be able to stump up that amount of cash to attract McIlroy and we’re already seeing their advertising campaign with him and Tiger Woods hitting our television screens.

And who is going to be paying for this multi-million pound deal? The fans and the punters of course?

Nike manage to stump up up the money to attract all the major stars like Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo and have clubs like Manchester United and Barcelona on their books, but it’s the man in the street who pays up to £60 for a replica jersey that pays for these clubs and stars to be associated with Nike.

The same thing has happened within football clubs as well. Clubs have been putting their ticket and replica shirt prices up for years now and it’s hitting the average fan in the pocket.

Fans hold a banner in the stands relating to the price of tickets during the Barclays Premier League match at The Emirates Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday January 13, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Arsenal. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.

Fans hold a banner in the stands relating to the price of tickets during the Barclays Premier League match at The Emirates Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday January 13, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Arsenal. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.

Do these clubs and major sporting companies forget that we’re in the middle of a recession?

Manchester City fans were famously charged £62 per ticket to watch their away game at Arsenal last week.

That is a ridiculous amount of money to ask of a football fan, especially when you factor in that they would have had to travel from Manchester to London and also stump up the cash for food and drink throughout the day.

It seems the chairmen and directors of these top clubs don’t really take the fans into consideration when they set these prices.

Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino during the Barclays Premier League match at St Mary's, Southampton. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday January 21, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Southampton. Photo credit should read: Chris Ison/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.

Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino during the Barclays Premier League match at St Mary's, Southampton. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday January 21, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Southampton. Photo credit should read: Chris Ison/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.

There will come a time soon though that enough is enough and the fans will vote with their feet and the clubs will be hit the hardest.

I went down to the Britannia to watch my team Southampton against Stoke City with my son Curtis and that cost us £20 each for a ticket.

That is reasonable in my opinion and it was still an expensive day out for both of us.

It is time the clubs put more focus on the average fan and less focus on paying these top players so much money.

Having touched on the money side of football and sponsorship deals in general, I have to say that with the top wages that these players are getting paid comes that extra bit of responsibility to be a good role model for their young fans.

We’ve all heard the reaction to Chelsea’s Eden Hazard kicking a ballboy at Swansea during their cup semi-final the other night.

He must have known that doing that would generate worldwide coverage and be scrutinised everywhere.

While the ballboy was clearly in the wrong but Hazard was crazy to try and kick the ball from underneath him.

All he had to do was let the referee deal with it, but he went about things in totally the wrong way.

I saw television pundit Pat Nevin ranting and raving about how from different angles it doesn’t look as bad and that Hazard wasn’t to blame. What a load of rubbish.

With the world of social media and 24 hour rolling television coverage now, these players are under massive scrutiny now and they have a responsibility to set a good example for their young fans.

If he did that in the street to a 17-year-old kid he’d been in lots of trouble wouldn’t he?

Being a Southampton fan I was very surprised to see the chairman Nicolas Cortese sack manager Nigel Adkins last week.

Nigel was popular with all the fans and he was sacked for a manager who has very little experience and has only managed in Spain.

There is a distinct lack of young English coaches that are getting the opportunities now and it’s a shame.

I think the overriding thing for me as a fan was the disappointing fact that Cortese didn’t come out and say anything about his decision.

Yes, it is his money and therefore his decision, but he showed a total lack of class and dignity by merely releasing a statement.

And a lot of football fans are now looking at Southampton saying that they hope we get relegated now, whereas a lot of them were in our corner before. That is disappointing.

We were very sharp in the first half against Everton on Monday night though and if we can play like that, we’ll be fine.

Performance of the week: The England netball team recorded only their third win in 60 meetings over Australia to take a 1-0 lead in the three-test series. The match finished 58-53 giving England a great boost going into the next games.

Quote of the week: “But do you know Nigel, you can walk away from Southampton knowing you have the complete and utter support of 99.9 per cent of Saints fans around the world.” - A tweet from Saints fan, Ben Stanfield.