Go on, admit it, you didn’t think it would ever happen, did you? Following the success of the price reduction for the Chelsea game Latics have now recognised what the fans told them back in August and reduced admission for the remaining games of the season. Fans who were expecting to pay as much as £35 for tickets will now have to find a new excuse to sit in the pub with tickets for the final seven games priced at either £15 or £20.
The results of the Chelsea ‘experiment’ were there for all to see, not only did the home end sell out, but (in particular for the second half) those that came got behind the team. For Paul Jewell this level of support was crucial in the performance that saw Latics push the Champions all the way. “Against Chelsea, the JJB Stadium was absolutely rocking and it had a big impact on the performance of the players. The lads were buzzing in the dressing room to be playing in front of a noisy and passionate full house and we want to try and re-create that from now until the end of the season.”
However, with many potential fans now used to spending Saturday afternoons in the pub and getting their match-day experience via the Middle East you have to wonder whether lower prices will be enough on it’s own to bring those people down to a wet and windy JJB stadium. The move will certainly be enough to arrest the slide in attendances, but without a reversal of on pitch fortunes it may not be enough to push figures back over the 20,000 mark.
Whilst the move will be almost universally welcomed by those in the stands there will always be those with complaints. Season ticket holders should be happy that the deal that they got last summer still represents a saving, but there will be those that won’t. Cynics will also point to the timing of the announcement, coming two days after many season ticket holders will have made their last direct debit payment and the same amount of time since half season tickets took effect.
The people who took advantage of the half tickets that will have most complaints over the matter. It’s hoped that fewer people than the 4,000 who took up the offer last season, have this time. Those that have are now facing up to having paid more for the last 9 home games of the season than if they’d bought tickets for each game. A half season ticket for the West Stand will have set you back £194 (£21.56 per game) paying on the gate would cost £185 (£20.56). Ok so it’s less than a tenner, but when you’ve hung on until Christmas because you couldn’t afford a full ticket that’s hardly comforting.
Legitimate complaints are very much in the minority though and the club have to be congratulated for what is a brave move. Not only have they listened to the fans’ concerns, they have set prices that according to Brenda Spencer make Latics “by far and away the best value club in the Premiership” but are also competitive with many teams in both the Championship and League 1.
Recognition should also go to the organisations and individuals that played a part in pointing the club in the right direction. Lets hope that they’ll be as successful with improving other aspects of the club’s relationship with the fans.
It’s now up to the people of Wigan to respond accordingly, full houses between now and May will not guarantee Latics’ safety, but it should certain give the lads on the pitch a bit of a lift.