Short-changed in soccer

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:34 PM ET

For a million dollars, you'd figure Everton would show up.

OK, the team which beat Manchester United to make it to the F.A. Cup final was in attendance. But they flew in on the day of the game from a camp in Seattle and didn't put up much of an exhibition of Everton, er, excellence.

They barely gave enough to pay for the Rexall Edmonton Indy tickets they required for today.

$105

For the top Edmonton Cup ticket prices of $105 -- almost double the price of a regular season game to watch Everton play a Premier League fixture at Goodison Park -- you'd figure they'd at least start Phillip Neville.

For $40, the lowest price (before a combined Indy qualifying-soccer general admission ticket for $53 went on sale 48 hours before the game), you'd figure they'd at least start Tim Howard.

Neville, the former Manchester United star who won six titles with the starry squad and played for England in the World Cup, subbed in at the 69-minute mark.

Howard, the American keeper who was the recent hero as the U.S. ended Spain's 35-match unbeaten run for the Confederations Cup, never set foot on the field.

Coach David Moyes was unapologetic saying there were other people he needed to play. They came across as an uncaring club thumbing their nose at the locals on a visit to the colonies.

You can't blame River Plate. They came to play.

In a 60,000 seat stadium having an announced attendance of 15,800 for such a game is significantly short of a success story.

This friendly cost far more per ticket than the last stop by Brazil here on the way to the USA '94 World Cup which drew 51,937. It was also more expensive than David Beckham's visit last year which drew 37,104 but not so much to explain more than 20,000 fewer fans.

The saddest thing of this whole deal is that this started as a celebration of the Alberta Soccer Association's 100th anniversary. Did you see any young soccer players there last night? They out-priced the very people they were supposed to be celebrating.

It wasn't that the promoters didn't spend any money to promote the game.

The advertising bills were massive. But maybe you noticed that the full page ads went from promoting Everton vs River Plate to England vs Argentina.

That tells a story, too.

Les Millionarios gave the fans a creative offensive performance highlighted by several excellent chances and a gorgeous 25-metre chip shot goal by 35-year-old Ariel Ortega (once believed to be the next Diego Maradona) over back-up keeper Carlo Nash.

Ortega didn't turn out to be Maradona. But at least he turned up in the starting line-up. He didn't, however, show up at the post-game press conference.

Backers Bruno Mastroprimiano and Tom and Dave Fath were recruited to put up $2 million to bring these two teams to town as forerunners to a concept which would bring the sexiest squads in the world here in the future.

The good news is that despite taking a bath, they say they're going to come back, figure out what they did wrong and try do it right with higher profile teams the next time.

"Definitely. We plan to have more games. Having more attendance would have been great, but there were other happenings," he said of the race and Capital Ex, etc," said Mastroprimiano.

NOT TOO HIGH

He said he didn't think the ticket prices were too high.

"What does it cost for the Oilers. To bring these teams in, you have to pay for it. It costs money. That's the way it is."

Tom Fath admitted they'd be taking a bath.

"Obviously. But we are going to be looking to bring future events."

After all the Edmonton Cup they presented last night was about the size of the Stanley Cup and the Grey Cup.

"We meant it for a big game. You need a big trophy," said Mastroprimiano.

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos