The fan - Hunter Davies is called a bastard

"You called me a bastard," said the voice. "Last week in your column"

I was just opening a rather exciting-looking package from Arsenal, with a drawing of the new Emirates Stadium on the front, ooh, gorgeous, when the phone rang.

"I'm one of the bastards," said a voice.

Wrong number, I said, and if not, I don't want double glazing, don't care if I've won a prize, and haven't you anything else to do in Delhi on a November afternoon than bother me about mobile phones when I don't even use the one I have?

"You called me a bastard," said the voice. "Last week in your column."

Course I didn't. I don't use such language, and if I did, er, you're not a lawyer, are you?

"No, I'm your friend from Sky TV . . ."

Oh, one of those bastards - sorry, I mean, one of those awfully nice people - at Sky, one I do happen to know, who helps bring us all those excellent football games.

"That's what I wanted to talk to you about," he said, and continued to natter on for more than half an hour. He told me that Sky gets uninformed fans like me going on all the time about how it has been changing the kick-off times just to suit itself. Which is not true, so he said. There can be a variety of reasons for tinkering with kick-off times, oh yes, often to do with the police, or other games, and anyway it's all agreed with the Premier League.

And if gates at League games do go down because of all the football on TV, which is what the Observer might be telling its readers, Sky for one would be very sad. Oh yes. It wants happy faces on the terraces, and no spaces. That helps the atmosphere, and pleases everyone, naturally. Sky doesn't like being associated with events nobody goes to.

If gates for cup games do go down, think what a good challenge this is for the marketing men. It gives an opportunity to reduce prices, let in kids for free with their dads, make special concessions, which an excellent club like Charlton have done, when they see a less-than-full house coming up.

I thanked him for making it clear that any nasty things being said because of Sky were not true, and if they were, they were nice things. I think I got that straight. Possibly.

In passing, he did come out with some interesting statistics. Guess how many live games Sky showed in the first season of the Premiership, 1992-93? The answer is 101. And today, in the 2004-05 season? A total of 500, if you include the 50 pay-per-view games. I wish I'd had those facts last week when I was moaning on, sorry, being grateful for all the TV footer.

When you add on the number of games shown by the BBC, ITV1, ITV2 and Channel 5, the total is now more than 750 matches per season.

"Yet so far, more people are watching Premiership live games on Sky than at this stage last year. And don't forget, last season, total attendance in all five divisions was the best for 35 years. If you suggest otherwise, I happen to be a Spurs fan and I know where you sit . . ."

Perhaps he didn't say that last bit, but by then I was at last tearing open the exciting-looking Arsenal envelope.

I still have my half-season ticket for Arsenal, paying a friend £634 while his son is working abroad, but I've been following the progress of the new stadium. It will be almost twice as big as the old one, so there's bound to be a lot more seats available. Might be cheaper as well, as Emirates has paid Arsenal £100m.

Very glossy, yummy brochure, lovely big photos, then very small print saying that only 6,500 people out of the 26,000 on the waiting list will get ordinary seats. So hurry, hurry now and buy what they are calling Club Level seats. These don't look all that great to me (I prefer to be much higher), yet a halfway-line seat will cost - wait for it - £4,750 a season. You have to take it for four years, paying half the money up front - yet the stadium doesn't open until August 2006. You do get free drinks at half-time. Big deal.

Bastards, bastards. And no, I won't be answering the phone next week . . .

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