Shortly before yesterday’s “going Halves” announcement from the club, Jonathan Jackson responded to my open letter published on Wednesday. His reply is in full below.
Thank you for your email. The contents of your letter are noted.
Unfortunately, the price of tickets for away matches is something that is out of our control and as this is a decision taken by another football club it is not possible for us to comment on this particular issue.
We have always believed that football should be affordable for everyone and our prices at the DW Stadium reflect that.
We do have sympathy with our supporters and it is frustrating that virtually every other club charges more for our supporters when we visit them, than we charge their supporters. However, we do not wish to be critical of any other club and it is each club’s prerogative to choose their own pricing strategy.
We cannot condone a boycott of the match as we have to respect every supporters point of view and we would of course prefer as many fans as possible to support the team on Boxing Day. The Football Club respects freedom of choice and therefore respects those supporters that choose to donate to charity rather than attend the match which is a worthy gesture and is of course their choice to do so.
However, in response to this issue, we have considered how we can help our supporters who wish to attend the match. I am pleased to confirm that our players, who appreciate that the ticket prices for this match is a high cost to incur at this time, have agreed to ‘go halves’ on the cost of the first 500 tickets that we sell for the Leeds United match at Elland Road.
Although this does not solve the general problem of increased ticket prices that you are highlighting, it does assist supporters who wish to support the team on Boxing Day by making the tickets more affordable on this occasion.
Thank you for your support
Although this falls short of the full support of the boycott that I referred to in my letter, fans who are choosing to boycott the Leeds game can take comfort that the club, Chief Executive and players have sympathy for the point you are making and recognise your right to do it through positive action. However the response has done nothing to change my mind on this issue and I continue to fully support a boycott. I have responded to Jonathan accordingly:
Thanks for your email, I appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to respond.
Whilst I appreciate that you have no direct control over the prices that other clubs set for matches. I can also so that being seen to publicly criticise other clubs may put you in a difficult position. However I don’t accept that there is nothing that can be done without any direct, public condemnation of individual clubs.
You have stated the club’s belief in affordable football for all, and that is pleasing, as you say Latics’ have their own house in order on that front. I wonder whether any thought has been given to working with other clubs, behind the scenes to try and spread that belief?
For example, you’ll be aware that a number of Premier League clubs are now involved in reciprocal agreements on ticket pricing. Discussing similar arrangements with other Championship clubs would be a good starting point towards improving things from within the game.
I also understand that from the club’s perspective it would be wrong to appear to support one group of supporters over another. I hold the same stance on this and respect the choice of anyone to attend the game on Boxing Day. However I am pleased that you are able to show similar respect to those who are choosing not to attend as well as sympathy for the reasons they are taking this action.
Finally, whilst I accept that the players’ offer to “go halves” with the first 500 fans to buy tickets is worthy and well placed I am concerned that that it undermines the overall effort to highlight unacceptable pricing, specifically of this game and more generally within the game. This affect was probably unintended but any official encouragement of attendance is a direct countermeasure to the efforts of those fans who are seeking to make a genuine and important point about the price of football.
Whilst it is pleasing to see the players recognise this point and even more so that they feel it appropriate to do something about it, this means that Leeds will, presumably, receive full payment for their tickets and in many cases those people who will benefit will be those who had already decided to attend and, by inference, find £36 an acceptable price to pay for a ticket to the game.
Many fans have suggested that a more appropriate measure would have been to make a charitable donation instead. £9,000 would have gone a long way to help rough sleepers in the borough. That said, it’s not my place to tell the players what to do with their money or ask them to change their decision.
Again, thanks for taking time to respond to my concerns. As previously stated I will share your response (and this email) with Latics fans via the website.
Whilst some of you may feel downhearted about the club’s offer undermining what you are trying to achieve, don’t. You should take it as a positive sign. The club has acted in direct response to your protests and although what they have done may be misplaced, it demonstrates a belief in and support of affordable football. Your protests over the last couple of days have escalated the issue of escalating tickets prices to a national level and have gathered support from across football. We’ve also raised a substantial amount for a worthwhile cause.
But don’t be complacent. You should carry on making sure that this debate doesn’t fall by the wayside. Stick with the boycott and continue to encourage others to do so.
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