You might have spotted that Latics have sold the 500 “going halves” tickets for the Leeds game. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the news when I first heard it. I know there will be those of you who think that’s a massive away following for Latics. You might even think that all “the fuss” has increased the number of people that will be travelling to Leeds. If you think that then you’re probably also thinking that it’s proof that “boycotts just don’t work”
But you know what? That’s not right. The players’ offer might have shifted the goalposts for those people who are trying to make a point about what Leeds are charging, but the game is still the same and you’ve still hit plenty of shots on target.
You’ve proved a point about affordable football
By any measure, £18 is a good deal for a football match these days. If few more than the 500 who took advantage of the players offer turn up then it will go a long way to proving that people will pay when the price is right. The players have clearly come out in favour of the point you’re making and you need to keep making it.
It was never about how many people DID go to Leeds, it’s about those who don’t go
I’ve no way of proving this, obviously, but I reckon that we were in for a bumper travelling crowd for this one. Firstly, it’s Boxing Day and secondly, everyone I know was talking about going. I’ve no idea what that equates to in numbers but in my more fanciful moments I’ve called it at around 2 to 3 thousand. It might have been nearer the 1,500 mark, but a lot would have depended on ticket prices, which is kind of the point.
Anyway, what I’m saying is (just this once) judge people’s choices on the empty seats. There’ll be more than a couple, each one could have a Latics mon’s or lady’s backside on it. If the price was right.
Not going is the same as boycotting
Look, I’ve tried to avoid the B-word, mainly because people would find that too difficult to get behind, it sounds a bit political and it’s hard to separate it from the idea that you’d be withdrawing your support from Latics (let’s face it, at a time when then probably need it the most). For me, this has always been about a conscious decision not to travel to Leeds.
For me there’s no difference between the fan who can afford £41 and is refusing to pay it, the one who could maybe afford it but has decided it’s too much of a push and the one who couldn’t afford to pay it in a month of Sundays. They’re all not going as a direct result of the ticket prices and they should all be happy to stand together and say so. That unity is what this was all about.
We’ve stood together
There’s lots of talk about doing things together at the moment. The club have cottoned on to a general unrest amongst the fans and have started to use the word “together” in their advertising. You’ll hear a lot more of it in the New Year as well, because, at the end of the day, we can achieve more together than we can acting as individuals or in small fractious groups. You want proof, well look at what we’ve managed in little over a week.
- You’ve driven the debate about ticket pricing- without your words and actions, the reaction to the prices that Leeds United’s Management are charging would have simply been a load of tight Wiganers moaning about it on the internet. You might have had a conversation with your mates about how ridiculous it was, but would people have had the debates they have around ticket pricing in general.
- You’ve raised the issue at a national level – Very quickly, the amount of noise you made around this got the attention of the footballing nation. The FSF have shown support as have fans from all over the country, you’ve had attention in the national media and, had I not had a game of cricket (yes, a game of cricket in December) the night that the players made their offer, you could have well been featured on Radio 5Live. You did that simply by standing together and saying no.
- You’ve got the club to act in support of affordable football – Look, it would have been nice if Latics and the players had come out and explicitly said that Leeds’ prices were wrong, but it’s totally understandable that they felt they couldn’t. That said, Jonathan Jackson’s response to my letter and the players’ offer that accompanied it make it clear that they do. You can take pride in that and know that whilst they can’t support direct action, the club do have sympathy for what you’re trying to achieve.
- You’ve raised money for charity – If all this “campaign” is ever remembered for is the money you’ve helped raise for The Brick Homeless Charity then it will still all have been worthwhile. The cost of your Leeds ticket on it’s own would go a long way to helping one of the borough’s rough sleepers or those reliant on foodbanks to feed themselves this Christmas. So far we’ve managed twenty times that and we’ll leave the donations page open for a month after the game, just in case you find a little spare change in your pocket after the festive period.
And there’s no need to stop there. There will be three or four clubs that insist on charging similar prices to Leeds between now and the end of the season, keep complaining, keep campaigning, support the FSF’s TwentysPlenty initiative. Despite the need for unity between the fans and club in times of adversity, there is still a need to act when you see something wrong, whether it’s a managerial appointment, words of the chairman or the actions of some of our fans, don’t be a lone voice, make sure you speak out together.
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