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“So get as many people behind it as you can! Get them subscribing and help give your local club a cash injection!” – The Auckland Football Federation website commands you!

PremierLeaguePass have launched a new initiative to support local clubs extremely generously with 20% of every subscription going to a local club that you nominate. That’s a massive reduction in their mark-up and on the surface is a lovely gesture towards grassroots organisations. I have to say though, that I’m a bit of a hard bastard when it comes to this sort of thing. I see it as a company’s responsibility to give back to their community and things like this are never done out of the kindness of their hearts. They are done for marketing reasons.

20% means a whopping $40 from a full subscription going to a grassroots club. With such a large amount there are two ways of looking at it. Is this really generous or are we being ripped off? If they can afford to give up $40 from a premium subscription, surely they could have afforded to sell us the service for $40 less?

The answer is probably in part that they can afford to be this generous because of the economy of scale here. They are banking on this resulting in a big boost to subscriptions, and it could well do. Clubs, federations and the national body will be aggressively going out to their members pushing this. PremierLeaguePass will be betting that all these other people are going to do a lot of the badgering of people to subscribe that they would otherwise need to find ways to do themselves via advertising and other forms of marketing. You can’t buy publicity like this will be getting them I’m sure.

One of the other things that makes this very different from most other sponsorship initiatives however, is that rather than being targeted at buying equipment for kids or something specific such as uniforms or training cones, this money could end up being spent on anything. Of course we know that all clubs spend their money differently. It’s for that reason that I have a recommendation to make, if I may…

Rather than being parochial about it and simply selecting your local club as a matter of course, why not put a bit more thought into it than that? How can you be sure to get value for your not insubstantial sum of money that you control the destination of? For example, do you want it to go to first team players in a brown paper envelope or to junior development?

Perhaps before you subscribe you could ask the club you are thinking of directing the donation to what they are going to do with it? Perhaps when a club tells you to subscribe, it shouldn’t be a blank cheque they are asking for. Maybe as part of their drive to get you to subscribe they should be telling you what they will use the money for and if they aren’t doing this you should be pushing them to.

And what about if you were not planning to subscribe to PremierLeaguePass? Should this make you rush off and do it? My confession is that I don’t think I’m going to this season. I hardly used it over the last 12 months. Without Premier League on TV what I found myself doing was avidly watching Bundesliga on Sommet, avidly watching Roma on the internet, and catching the odd EPL game still on Sky. I don’t care that much about the Premier League and I have to say it annoys me that PLP has the rights to Serie A but they aren’t using them. If they aren’t going to use the rights they should give them up so somebody else might.

But if I was going to subscribe, with the luxury of not being affiliated to any club, I would use the opportunity to direct my $40 to a club that is run with no money, and thus could really benefit from my cash injection. A club that doesn’t spend big on buying players and does good in the wider community.

Not being one to enjoy feeling left out, and instead of subscribing to a service I don’t get value out of just to join the in-crowd, I have put my money where my mouth is in another way. I have given my $40 directly to Manukau City AFC. If you’d like to follow suit, their bank account details are here. Or pick a different club! The choice is yours.

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: https://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/

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