I’m sure I speak for a lot of sports fans when I say that I love memorabilia. I can be quite a sentimental person, so the idea of buying jerseys, balls, and other souvenirs from seasons gone by is an incredibly appealing prospect. Back in the days of paper match tickets, I held on to every single one, and I still collect programs from every match I attend. The only gift I held onto after breaking up with my first girlfriend was a signed photo of Cesar Azpilicueta.
Unfortunately, though, as with the Lego sets I lusted after as an eight year old, the cars that catch my eye in the street, and the designer clothes I would like to wear, there is very little sport memorabilia that I can afford.
Purely based on that fact, I would be inclined to argue that yes, sports memorabilia is far too expensive, at least for my budget. This is exacerbated by the fact that I support a Big Six football team and enjoy Formula One, meaning that I don’t often find myself in the bargain bins of the memorabilia market.
Regardless of that fact, classicfootballshirts.co.uk currently lists a match worn Michael Owen England shirt, worn in a goalless friendly against The Netherlands in 2005 for an eye watering £1,499.99. Owen is a great of the game, but given the uninteresting fixture, how can that high a price be asked? Even new shirts soullessly stitched in a sweatshop with a seemingly endless stock cost upwards of £60. There is only one word for it: extortionate.
On the flip side, one has to consider the supply and demand aspect, as well as the sentimental value. While a match-worn shirt from a dud friendly against the Netherlands might not have much in the way of happy memories associated with it, shirts worn in Premier League or cup victories have unbelievable demand. Combine that with the extremely limited supply and you get skyrocketing prices.
Makes enough sense to me. As long as some wealthy fan out there can afford to drop a few grand on a sweaty old shirt, the prices will stay on the top floor. It doesn’t quite seem fair to the average fan like you or I who can’t afford to even look at such numbers, but that’s the way it goes. Life isn’t fair, is it? Executive offices will remain adorned with framed shirts and F1 front wings, children’s bedroom walls will have to settle for posters, and the world will continue to turn.
To answer the earlier question, I would offer a resounding “Yes, sports memorabilia is ridiculously expensive and arguably a massive rip off.” That won’t stop anyone though, will it? If I won the lottery tomorrow I’d be straight down to London to visit Classic Football Shirts and buy as much as I could carry, and I imagine most other whiny football fans would do the exact same.