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The Future of Watching Rovers


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I’ve been giving this some thought and it isn’t really clear what the future of stadium viewing looks like for Rovers fans, and for football supporters in general.

When the doors do eventually reopen - which, under this government, could be a very long time indeed - what will clubs be left with in terms of a, let’s call them a, Customer-base?

Under the current administration, it’s almost certain that prices will increase - again. While other clubs may offer deals or incentives to get people back in the ground IMHO it is hugely unlikely that Rovers would do the same. Waggott has consistently resisted calls for price reductions, genuine match offers* to increase footfall and has instead already shown that price rises for the most faithful fans are the easiest way to raise money. I expect he will of course play pauper and insist that there is no other way and that real fans will rise up and support the club in it’s hour of need. (Contracts to Smallwood and Hart may not come from the same budget but for many fans it is incongruous to suggest that the two are not to be linked).

*The last time I recall a league game for £10 was the Oxford game and, despite the opportunity, he failed to capitalise on those numbers and made the mistake of assuming that Championship football was enough of a draw to get players back.

So let’s get down to brass tacks. What price point might look like value for money for anyone but the “anypricers”? Yes, we all want to watch but for many fans the post-lockdown financial situation may be precarious. For others disillusioned with Mowbray and out of the habit, there may need to be something in the way of financial encouragement to continue to sign up for a season ticket rather than, say, cherry-pick matches. A Taking Back Ewood campaign could never be more timely. Reaching out to those who didn’t automatically renew for this season. Absolute minimum, holding season ticket seats for any which lapses this season.

Right now, for those who didn’t buy a Season Pass, they are paying £10 per game so could watch every league game, home and away, for £460 (not that there are any cup games to worry about). So there’s that. There’s also the potential for clubs to continue to work out a deal with iFollow - maybe all non-3pm games are shown, maybe all of them. It would certainly be a way to get money back in the coffers but would also likely impact ST purchases. Or would it? Anyone who has bought ST or even match tickets tends to do so because of the matchday experience. You could well see fans go to home games but would also be willing to pay for iFollow for away games rather than travel. Maybe a ST deal with an iFollow away subscription could be a sell? Maybe iFollow STs could be available as well as real ones? Although it may not even be in the hands of clubs.

At the other extreme is Waggott’s prerogative. This season, with no guaranteed games it was £399 for a lower stand seat (with Riverside and JW the same price - obviously not sustainable). JW Upper was £459 - £499. These will absolutely have to be frozen minimum as I cannot see how he could go any further than that without it being self-sabotage. Even those prices are too high to realistically grow the attendance. With a couple of teenagers thrown in, it could be over £600.

With 2,500 fans due a discount of £169. Assuming no games are played, this means a shortfall of £422,500 (and I’d expect most to be adult tickets). On the basis that they may get to 6,000 fans next season (without a change of manager or marquee signing) that means an increase of £121 per ticket to break even - a lower tier ticket (including the Riverside at £520!!!* Add the kids on and it’s potentially over £750. That’s commercial suicide for a club like Rovers. (Remind me how much this guy gets paid again?)

**Just for comparison, the breakeven price rise for 7,500 new buyers next season is £56 (target 10,000 ST holders). So that’s still over £450 for a lower tier ticket. That’s ten quid shy of what people paid for every game, home and away, for their whole family. Is this a reasonable post-covid price? It isn’t particularly imaginative.

Without a bums-on-seats, longer-term strategy, or without some kind of TV/iFollow tie-in we could be looking at some very worrying income figures indeed next season. Personally I think Waggott will stick to his current modus operandi and put prices up while calling on fans to show commitment. Meanwhile, in parallel, will (allegedly) laugh at fans who suggest a new manager is needed. Covid could not have happened at a worse time or under worse custodians. All the “better fans” can bleat and pontificate all they like but everyone suffers.

Worrying times.

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Personally, I think this will turn out to be a 1960 watershed moment in terms of following Rovers.  For me there are two big 'unknowns' that have little to do with Venkys, Waggott or Mowbray.  Fi

I’ve been giving this some thought and it isn’t really clear what the future of stadium viewing looks like for Rovers fans, and for football supporters in general. When the doors do eventually re

Left field suggestion....make watching football flexible. A mix of live & TV viewing which can be consumed as the individual fan sees fit for a subscription. No annual renewal date, continuous dir

3 hours ago, Stuart said:

Worrying times

I'm not worried. These owners have paid the bills come what may, even through the pandemic. And seem to be happy to sanction new signings to bolster the defence during this window. 

You and your ilk have held Derby up as the way to create success in this league - yeah, sell the ground to the owners for 50 million quid, yeah sign Rooney on a deal with a betting company for the 32 shirt number

Derby can't even pay December's wages despite all of their dodgy FFP swerves and supposedly new owners. 

People need to stop over-analysing what might happen after the pandemic and think more about how on earth Rovers are still solvent after 10 months of zero income. 

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3 hours ago, Ben Frost said:

I'm not worried. These owners have paid the bills come what may, even through the pandemic. And seem to be happy to sanction new signings to bolster the defence during this window. 

You and your ilk have held Derby up as the way to create success in this league - yeah, sell the ground to the owners for 50 million quid, yeah sign Rooney on a deal with a betting company for the 32 shirt number

Derby can't even pay December's wages despite all of their dodgy FFP swerves and supposedly new owners. 

People need to stop over-analysing what might happen after the pandemic and think more about how on earth Rovers are still solvent after 10 months of zero income. 

3 hours ago, Ben Frost said:

I'm not worried. These owners have paid the bills come what may, even through the pandemic. And seem to be happy to sanction new signings to bolster the defence during this window. 

You and your ilk have held Derby up as the way to create success in this league - yeah, sell the ground to the owners for 50 million quid, yeah sign Rooney on a deal with a betting company for the 32 shirt number

Derby can't even pay December's wages despite all of their dodgy FFP swerves and supposedly new owners. 

People need to stop over-analysing what might happen after the pandemic and think more about how on earth Rovers are still solvent after 10 months of zero income. 

That’s an extremely selfish and shortsighted viewpoint Ben.

Could I respectfully suggest you go and give yourself a shake!

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11 hours ago, Ben Frost said:

I'm not worried. These owners have paid the bills come what may, even through the pandemic. And seem to be happy to sanction new signings to bolster the defence during this window. 

Your not worried that they are going to increase prices again and price fans out of wanting to attend Ewood leading to much smaller crowds?

You're not worried that potentially a season ticket next year for the BBE could be 25% more expensive than the last time we stepped foot in Ewood ?

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18 minutes ago, Hasta said:

Your not worried that they are going to increase prices again and price fans out of wanting to attend Ewood leading to much smaller crowds?

You're not worried that potentially a season ticket next year for the BBE could be 25% more expensive than the last time we stepped foot in Ewood ?

I don't know what future ticket prices will be, but you should only compare them to other clubs prices at the time, not our historical prices . I have a simple solution if I am not happy with the price of tickets, or the quality of football on display. I will not go.

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We will be 18 months out of the ground (that’s a lot of folk out the habit) in the midst of a big recession and Covid worries still around, I’d imagine.

Couple that with tickets going on sale after another season of bumbling around in mid and prices being substantially higher seems a perfect storm to me. Certainly nothing to be so complacent about, Ben.

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Left field suggestion....make watching football flexible. A mix of live & TV viewing which can be consumed as the individual fan sees fit for a subscription. No annual renewal date, continuous direct debit. Like a mobile phone contract. The subscription buys “x” number of credits each month which are consumed in whatever way at different tariffs. Like a mobile phone....texts at one price, calls at another....data at another & so on.

Have categories for TV viewing, sole attendance in person, collective attendance in person priced in such a way that attending in person with kids is the most attractive....TV is always an option but not cheaper than in person attendance except say for over 65s....

I’ve not thought this through in depth as you can see...but...over to you to tell me how it can be improved....🙂

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1 hour ago, Herbie6590 said:

Left field suggestion....make watching football flexible. A mix of live & TV viewing which can be consumed as the individual fan sees fit for a subscription. No annual renewal date, continuous direct debit. Like a mobile phone contract. The subscription buys “x” number of credits each month which are consumed in whatever way at different tariffs. Like a mobile phone....texts at one price, calls at another....data at another & so on.

Have categories for TV viewing, sole attendance in person, collective attendance in person priced in such a way that attending in person with kids is the most attractive....TV is always an option but not cheaper than in person attendance except say for over 65s....

I’ve not thought this through in depth as you can see...but...over to you to tell me how it can be improved....🙂

"Blended Rovers" - I like it!

Instead of being Blackburn Enders we'll be 'Blenders' 

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Football will change as a result of COVID, and the ways in which its consumed. COVID-19 has rapidly sped up technological and societal advances in ways we couldn't have expected. More people than ever will work from home, some major companies in America have become a 100% work from home company with no end date. 

Football is exactly the same. The Amazon Prime deal is just the start. How much longer will anybody bother with going to the ground as the older generations fade and the newer generations so used to TV and digital media consumption come in?

Little Timmy from Accrington is no longer deciding between the Crown Ground, Ewood Park or Turf Moor at 3pm on a Saturday, it's BT Sport at Stamford Bridge, Amazon Prime at Celtic Park or Sky at Camp Nou. Younger generations consume everything online, on screens & as traditional football fans die off, these newer generations simply aren't replacing those lost in the stands.

COVID-19 will just simply speed up that process that is bound to happen, and impossible to stop. The most progressive & financially stable plan is to embrace the inevitable changes coming. Start an e-sports team, engage these younger kids with relatable media content, make games more accessible digitally and monetise that to its peak.

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It is no doubt going to have a lasting effect on football viewing and attendance.  

For me, having moved south in the early 1980s I still used to attend a few home games every year whilst visiting family, but as they have died/moved away from Blackburn it is now a long time since I visited Ewood and I don't expect that to change anytime soon. My watching Rover's "live" has been restricted to a few away games each season.

This year - I've paid my £10 to iFollow and managed to watch every Rovers game (bar one) live, home and away, which I've really enjoyed despite some of the results recently. If there was a digital season ticket introduced so that could continue in future I'd  be happy to sign up.

 

 

Edited by TonyM
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52 minutes ago, JoeH said:

Football will change as a result of COVID, and the ways in which its consumed. COVID-19 has rapidly sped up technological and societal advances in ways we couldn't have expected. More people than ever will work from home, some major companies in America have become a 100% work from home company with no end date. 

Football is exactly the same. The Amazon Prime deal is just the start. How much longer will anybody bother with going to the ground as the older generations fade and the newer generations so used to TV and digital media consumption come in?

Little Timmy from Accrington is no longer deciding between the Crown Ground, Ewood Park or Turf Moor at 3pm on a Saturday, it's BT Sport at Stamford Bridge, Amazon Prime at Celtic Park or Sky at Camp Nou. Younger generations consume everything online, on screens & as traditional football fans die off, these newer generations simply aren't replacing those lost in the stands.

COVID-19 will just simply speed up that process that is bound to happen, and impossible to stop. The most progressive & financially stable plan is to embrace the inevitable changes coming. Start an e-sports team, engage these younger kids with relatable media content, make games more accessible digitally and monetise that to its peak.

Most of what you say will undoubtedly prove true Joe... bloody sad though, ain’t it.

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19 minutes ago, Mattyblue said:

Most of what you say will undoubtedly prove true Joe... bloody sad though, ain’t it.

Under normal circunstamces, football for me is in person or nowt - I am happy to watch streams at present as there is no viable alternative; but once things ease up again I won't be spending my weekends waiting for a two hours to stare at my laptop in. I accept everyone is different and certainly the younger fans these days are by and large as Joe says; but that absolutely breaks my heart. For me, football is as much about the tangible experience as the 90 minutes on the pitch - the trek in all weathers down Livesey Branch Road; contemplating if Swansea away on a Tuesday night is worth two days' leave off work; trying to find a decent pub on away days. The day that goes I think I'll get a new passtime!

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1 hour ago, TonyM said:

It is no doubt going to have a lasting effect on football viewing and attendance.  

For me, having moved south in the early 1980s I still used to attend a few home games every year whilst visiting family, but as they have died/moved away from Blackburn it is now a long time since I visited Ewood and I don't expect that to change anytime soon. My watching Rover's "live" has been restricted to a few away games each season.

This year - I've paid my £10 to iFollow and managed to watch every Rovers game (bar one) live, home and away, which I've really enjoyed despite some of the results recently. If there was a digital season ticket introduced so that could continue in future I'd  be happy to sign up.

 

 

Ditto but early 90s.

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Like with modern music and film releases, you have the problem that more than 50% of the people watching it on streams aren't paying for it. 

However 2018 had the highest cinema admissions in the U.K.since the start of the millennium. That's because, even though you can wait and watch it at home or get a dodgy copy of the latest blockbuster on the internet through various means, going to the cinema is a social leisure experience. 

If football clubs get it right there will always be a significant market for live sport. Especially as the customer base shows brand loyalty like in few other industries.

Edited by Hasta
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4 hours ago, Mattyblue said:

Most of what you say will undoubtedly prove true Joe... bloody sad though, ain’t it.

Things change. Bigger crowds now compared to the 80's. That won't change any time soon. OT and Anfield aren't suddenly going to empty. Football is about the live experience. Amazon or whoever isn't going to change that. People have been stuck inside for 12 months, probably longer when we eventually get to go back to live matches, people will be gagging for it by then!!  As long as I'm vaccinated and not a risk to anyone I can't bloody wait!

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Premier League I agree, though I do think the EFL, in particular, Blackburn Rovers are about to head into an existential crisis over the next few years - though it’s down to more than Covid at this club.

Edited by Mattyblue
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Things were worrying enough at Rovers prior to Covid with a diminishing season ticket base, falling attendances, disinterested absent owners and an altogether poor product at Ewood.

Covid I fear will accelerate things significantly. All clubs will be affected however many will be resilient, be able to bounce back quickly or to a good healthy level on what they were before. I expect this is going to hit us harder than most. For example I think our season ticket base will be decimated, and as we've discussed for years and years we aren't a club or in a region where we are able to quickly bounce back and significantly increase sales overnight. It is a slow, arduous process to grow a fanbase at the best of times but in this competitive area even more so. What incentive are we going to be providing to get the people back? Another price rise to watch Mowbray's men for another year? Do me a favour. 

The climate we are facing will challenge the most skilled and creative of minds, there are boards and owners out there far more clued up than those here who will find it a huge challenge, but when we are stuck with Waggott and Venkys what hope do we really have. Waggott had set us on a downward trend before Covid despite promotion which takes some level of ineptitude but with Covid it isn't even worth thinking about.

I think the full extent of what we are facing will only become clear when we look at our season ticket base in comparison to rivals and how much worse off we end up than them. My expectation is we will end up in the top bracket of most significantly affected when it comes to numbers through the door. 

The worst part for me is that there will be a whole raft of Rovers fans who ignore or turn a blind eye to our in-house negligence and failings and instead just accept a raft of excuses and 'but Covid' as an explanation for everything even though others will manage to deal with it much better. Then there will be the '80's gang' who will just point to poor attendances 40 years ago as some sort of basis for poor crowds now, even though that isn't relevant in any shape or form.

Really, really worrying and another reason we need to see the back of Waggott and co. and get an ambitious, creative and fresh approach from someone else to run the club, ideally without Venkys dragging us backwards.

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49 minutes ago, Parsonblue said:

Personally, I think this will turn out to be a 1960 watershed moment in terms of following Rovers.  For me there are two big 'unknowns' that have little to do with Venkys, Waggott or Mowbray. 

Firstly, how many of the 'hardcore' supporters have now broken the habit of attending matches on a regular basis and will simply 'pick and chose' which matches to watch.  I don't think the club have really grasped in the last twelve months that they are down to the hardcore and that the casual supporter has long since disappeared.  Everytime they do something that makes some of that group walk away is another nail in the coffin and I think Stuart has perfectly summed up how that is likely to happen.

Secondly, I suspect the long-term impact of Covid-19 will still have an impact on the game.  Listening to the medical experts there seems to be agreement that social distancing and mask wearing is going to continue well into 2022 despite the vaccine.  Away fans are likely to be severely restricted if allowed at all.  Football is very much a social activity and if that is restricted it will surely impact on the numbers who want to attend, particularly as we seem to be treading water at the moment in terms of making progress with regard to promotion.

Add the issues so well described by Stuart and JH Rover and I think the future is somewhat bleak.

Speaking personally, after a sixty-year love affair with Blackburn Rovers I must admit that my interest is rapidly waning.  I don't know if I can see myself returning to watching every game - home and away - and the majority of Under-23 games again.  This season I've found it a chore watching games on iFollow.  The only thing I've really missed is travelling with friends to games, meeting up with friends and the whole social experience that football brings.  As for the mind-numbing stuff we're watching on the field at the moment - who needs it!

For me it's only 51 years, but those are my sentiments exactly.

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2 hours ago, Parsonblue said:

Personally, I think this will turn out to be a 1960 watershed moment in terms of following Rovers.  For me there are two big 'unknowns' that have little to do with Venkys, Waggott or Mowbray. 

Firstly, how many of the 'hardcore' supporters have now broken the habit of attending matches on a regular basis and will simply 'pick and chose' which matches to watch.  I don't think the club have really grasped in the last twelve months that they are down to the hardcore and that the casual supporter has long since disappeared.  Everytime they do something that makes some of that group walk away is another nail in the coffin and I think Stuart has perfectly summed up how that is likely to happen.

Secondly, I suspect the long-term impact of Covid-19 will still have an impact on the game.  Listening to the medical experts there seems to be agreement that social distancing and mask wearing is going to continue well into 2022 despite the vaccine.  Away fans are likely to be severely restricted if allowed at all.  Football is very much a social activity and if that is restricted it will surely impact on the numbers who want to attend, particularly as we seem to be treading water at the moment in terms of making progress with regard to promotion.

Add the issues so well described by Stuart and JH Rover and I think the future is somewhat bleak.

Speaking personally, after a sixty-year love affair with Blackburn Rovers I must admit that my interest is rapidly waning.  I don't know if I can see myself returning to watching every game - home and away - and the majority of Under-23 games again.  This season I've found it a chore watching games on iFollow.  The only thing I've really missed is travelling with friends to games, meeting up with friends and the whole social experience that football brings.  As for the mind-numbing stuff we're watching on the field at the moment - who needs it!

This is an excellent post and I believe sums up the feelings of many hard core supporters. Personally I would have added that I feel disengaged by the club particularly after the scandalous price increase they announced for season tickets. I am also unhappy with the whole Waggott role. I have been told that he has only been seen at Ewood a handful of times since March although that's more than the other bloke who still hasn't returned from India. The word is Waggott is retiring in the summer and the apparent lack of interest bears that out as he seems to be winding down. There is no leadership, no plan to engage supporters many of whom will not set foot in Ewood again. 

I firmly believe we are on the precipice whilst the powers that be seemingly don't care.

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3 hours ago, Parsonblue said:

Personally, I think this will turn out to be a 1960 watershed moment in terms of following Rovers.  For me there are two big 'unknowns' that have little to do with Venkys, Waggott or Mowbray. 

Firstly, how many of the 'hardcore' supporters have now broken the habit of attending matches on a regular basis and will simply 'pick and chose' which matches to watch.  I don't think the club have really grasped in the last twelve months that they are down to the hardcore and that the casual supporter has long since disappeared.  Everytime they do something that makes some of that group walk away is another nail in the coffin and I think Stuart has perfectly summed up how that is likely to happen.

Secondly, I suspect the long-term impact of Covid-19 will still have an impact on the game.  Listening to the medical experts there seems to be agreement that social distancing and mask wearing is going to continue well into 2022 despite the vaccine.  Away fans are likely to be severely restricted if allowed at all.  Football is very much a social activity and if that is restricted it will surely impact on the numbers who want to attend, particularly as we seem to be treading water at the moment in terms of making progress with regard to promotion.

Add the issues so well described by Stuart and JH Rover and I think the future is somewhat bleak.

Speaking personally, after a sixty-year love affair with Blackburn Rovers I must admit that my interest is rapidly waning.  I don't know if I can see myself returning to watching every game - home and away - and the majority of Under-23 games again.  This season I've found it a chore watching games on iFollow.  The only thing I've really missed is travelling with friends to games, meeting up with friends and the whole social experience that football brings.  As for the mind-numbing stuff we're watching on the field at the moment - who needs it!

Fully agree and it’s very sad to see that you feel this way.

When you and I agree, it’s very telling of the precariousness of the situation. If Waggott or any of his minions are reading, please take note.

He needs to do whatever it takes to get numbers back once it is possible to do so. He says Venkys care about this club? This is the chance for them to walk his talk by subsidising our recovery. Waggott should be front and centre of a campaign to lobby the football authorities to suspend FFP sanctions for three years after fans are allowed to return. In the meantime get (and keep) fans onside by keeping them informed of the progress you are making.

People love this club but they are not fools and they will not simply put up with inaction and excuses. Let alone fans themselves being guilted, shamed and blamed.

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Fully agree with most of the points raised so far.  Especially those about the changing watching/viewing/attendance habits of younger generations.  I've been a fan for nearly 60 years and had a ST for over 40 of those.  "Back In The Day", ST holders were few and far between, largely because individual matchday prices were easily affordable to most people.  However, as prices increased, it gradually became more sensible and cost effective to buy a ST.  Today neither I, nor any of my 3 grown-up sons, would ever contemplate attempting to justify spending more on an individual matchday ticket than on the family Saturday night takeaway.  The novelty of iFollow has been interesting, but £10 is the absolute pricing limit for us - and after last week's abhorrant no-show,  non of us can justify paying even this for tomorrow's game.  Mogga may be a "Football Dinosaur", but it's Waggott the "Businessman Dinosaur" who will kill-off our club.  We need a forward-thinking CEO who can empathise with the fans.

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1 hour ago, toooldforthis said:

Fully agree with most of the points raised so far.  Especially those about the changing watching/viewing/attendance habits of younger generations.  I've been a fan for nearly 60 years and had a ST for over 40 of those.  "Back In The Day", ST holders were few and far between, largely because individual matchday prices were easily affordable to most people.  However, as prices increased, it gradually became more sensible and cost effective to buy a ST.  Today neither I, nor any of my 3 grown-up sons, would ever contemplate attempting to justify spending more on an individual matchday ticket than on the family Saturday night takeaway.  The novelty of iFollow has been interesting, but £10 is the absolute pricing limit for us - and after last week's abhorrant no-show,  non of us can justify paying even this for tomorrow's game.  Mogga may be a "Football Dinosaur", but it's Waggott the "Businessman Dinosaur" who will kill-off our club.  We need a forward-thinking CEO who can empathise with the fans.

Great post. I would just change the last word for “Blackburn people” (and I acknowledge the surrounding area ofc).

He has never given me the impression that he understands the people he is dealing with. John Williams in contrast got that spot on - even if he did have a better budget.

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