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Moving beyond the burger

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Catering in UK football stadiums faces a shake up after US stadium catering provider Centerplate acquired loss-making British company, the Lindley Group. They have catering contracts at Celtic Park and White Hart Lane among other locations.

The new owners are seeking to move catering at grounds beyond the traditional cup of Bovril (not that many people drink that any more), the lukewarm pie or the burger of dubious provenance. Indeed, some fans have been saying 'Neigh' to them following the horse meat scandal.

Des Hague, chief executive of Centerplate told the Financial Times that the combined group would ensure that regional diversity shone through at each stadium's menu. Presumably that does not mean the legendary fried Mars bar at Celtic Park.

Mr Hague told the Pink 'Un, 'You can go into the Arsenal [sic] and you wouldn't know you were there rather than anywhere else in the country.' Well, you might do, because even some Arsenal fans think they are ripped off in terms of pricing.

He continued, 'I want [food] to be part of the experience. You get to the game and you endure the eating. We want people to turn up early and get great service.' But are fans prepared to pay for that service when they are financially hard pressed? I admit that I turn up at home games (for which I have a two-and-a-half journey) with my own sandwiches. Lots of people buy price competitive food from stands outside the stadium.

While Barclays Premier League teams have improved food for corporate hospitality packages, catering standards for those in the cheap seats have remained relatively low. Mr Hague said, 'That disposable corporate income is not there any more. The everyday fan has become more important.' Hopefully not as a cash cow.