I NEED to apologise to a passionate Saints supporter Mr Gavin Newell, who is based down in the Brighton area, but contacts me every now and again.

I made a mistake in my column last week, because he was actually the gentleman who gave me the unusual fact that only two clubs in the top two flights have never lost at St Mary’s. Having said that, they haven’t always been in the same league, but they were Rotherham and of course Brentford, who beat us in the League Cup last week.

So sorry about that Gavin. He actually went to his first game with Saints when he was seven years old apparently and since then has actually been to the 92 football grounds in the four divisions, mainly when Saints have been playing there. Clubs rely of course on that sort of supporter.

Money talks

Talking about what clubs rely on, especially at the moment, it’s money, money, money.

We’ve mentioned on a few occasions recently that some clubs are going under at a lower level, but it is now starting to affect much bigger clubs and it will of course be a lot to do, not just with no supporters coming in, but television money is a massive part of the Premier League finances. Apparently from countries all around the world, who pay to watch our games, it is £1.25bn a year coming in.

But recently there have been complaints from the biggest provider in Asia, who would you believe pay £400m each year, because with the way things have gone here, kick-off times have been altered with games mostly in the evening.

But of course in other countries that would turn out to be the middle of the night. The Premier League have got to start thinking about things like that because they cannot afford to lose that sort of money.

One of the possibly good things, if we can call it that, which may come out of this terrible situation, if and when it ends, could well be a more sensible look at the financial side of the game.

On the pitch obviously it will never change. The passion will always be there from the terraces and hopefully from the players and managers. But speaking to an old player of mine recently, who played at international level in his day, he was trying to remember if he ever got more than £5,000 in a year. He said in those days, players hoped to be able to pay off their mortgages before they hung their boots up. He said he couldn’t believe that some players are now getting anything from £30,000 to 50,000 a week in the Championship, or second division as he called it. We all know of course that in the Premier League, some are on a lot more.

Players coming in from abroad are costing absolute fortunes and it could well be that more common sense will prevail when clubs will have to tell staff and players, sorry we cannot carry on doing this sort of thing. And if a general agreement is made, it could well be that a salary cap of sorts may come in.

It would not affect television money, because the game will still be the same. But when you consider the number of supporters and even club staff who are now out of work, I think clubs, players and the PFA in particular, have got to take all of this on board and come out with a more common sense attitude, which could well change the game off the field in a much more popular and positive way.

Clubs should value the League Cup

When I talk about coaches, managers and players coming in from abroad, I’ve often wondered if they do not take our domestic cups as seriously as they should.

The FA Cup is probably the biggest football cup competition in the world. I think they may accept that. But it never appears to me that the League Cup is in the same category – it should be.

I remember back when we first went to Wembley in 1976, Saints supporters were begging for tickets. We just could not get enough. But three years later, when we went back for the League Cup final, our supply was more and the supporters were able to achieve their ambition and go to watch their team at Wembley.

This week I saw games where so many changes were made. For instance, when Manchester United played Luton, Man Utd made 10 changes and Luton made nine changes. To me, that looks as though it’s giving, particularly the Premier League club, an opportunity to give players a game who are normally sat on the bench.

I know compared to our day they have got twice as many players in their squad, but surely 10 changes looks more like a reserve team and they are giving the impression they’re not really bothered if they win or not. I think they should be taking the League Cup just as seriously as the FA Cup or European cups. I’m sure supporters would agree.

FA Cup is back

Talking of the FA Cup, I think I mention it each year, obviously dates are different the way things have gone and the top flight clubs will not be entering the third round for quite a while yet, but I don’t know if anyone noticed this week it was the FA Cup first qualifying round.

Many non-league clubs were involved and their ambition of course is to get as far as the first round proper. If they could ever make it to the third round, it is seen in their way as similar to getting to Wembley.