Opinion: Uneven playing field provides little inspiration
Feature by Paul Farrington
Updated Monday, 17th September 2012
It is like the supermarket juggernaut against the corner shop, or a heavy weight against a flyweight. When the Latics travel to face the big clubs the disparity in budgets offers little inspiration on the field.
Football for Manchester United is now business. Ever since they floated on the stock market, and subsequently we taken back 'private' by the Glazers, Manchester United are about making money.
The now infamous prawn sandwich eating Surray based stereotypical United supporter will of course have thoroughly enjoyed Saturday's antics.
Sat in his £1,500 a season seat, funding ever growing wages of players and the deepening pockets of the Glazer family, he will have been happy idilly applauding the collection of continental superstars on display in front of him.
He will sit happily in the knowledge that this is what football is about, being hte best, supporting the best, and beating everyone else.
There are no similarities between this gentleman and the average supporter of the Latics who forked out £46 to be given poor quality seats up in the gods of the 'Theatre of Dreams'.
The average Latics supporter has felt the pain of watching your team battered from pillar to post, not by the best in the land as the per the second half on Saturday, but by teams such as Bristol Rovers, or Rotherham United.
I remember standing at Springfield Park dreaming when we faced Manchester City in the same competitive division and I remember travelling to Ewood Park to face Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup in what was a huge game for us.
We are important to our football club because we support our team and we do so for reasons other than their on field success. Those who matter and have influence at our football club genuinly care and appreciate the needs and opinions of the supporters who have followed our club through the tough times and the good.
The disparity in monetary budgets that took to the field on Saturday is dwarfed by the disparity in quality of supporters on display. Although numerically United were by far and away the winners both in goals and support, in true 'football' terms the Latics win hands down every time.
That is where the two clubs differ, and always will.
The big clubs are too powerful, they have too much influence, too much money, and too much control. Only with an oil field full of money is it possible to have influence on the destination of the major trophies, and the established order are none too happy with that either.
Wigan Athletic are a very small fish in a very big pond. There is a league within a league and the lack of competition, genuine competition, is frustrating and sapping the life out of our game.
Gone are the days were a Champioship team could earn promotion and then go on to challenge for the league.
There is no heart in the top level of the game anymore as players trade off £100k's club-by-club until they find their new suitor.
Manchester United played a second string team against the Latics and ran out comfortable winners. They also assembled their squad with a budget of around one-hundred times the size of that of Wigan Athletic.
The Latics were up at 15/1 to win the game on Saturday suggesting that if the contest was played 100 times Roberto Martinez and his side would run out winners on just 6.
At £46 a ticket there is no-way on earth that I would be caught in that away end, and it hurts that I feel so numb about a game that my team is involved in.
As long as such fundamental inequaliities exist I cannot bring myself to have desire for a trip to Old Trafford.
There is clearly a market for people who want to watch such inequalities but I argue that these people are not true football supporters. They wouldn't bear witness to a Manchester United team who had suffered relegation.
Switch over to the away end of Old Trafford and salute the supporters of a team who have experienced both highs and true lows. Supporters who will be there whatever the situation their club is in and supports who define the word Support.
Roberto Martinez was right to salute the support his team received, but at the same time the authorities need to stand up to the big clubs for the good of the game. My fear is that they are already too powerful and that ship has sailed.