Twenty’s Plenty

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It was no coincidence nor a surprise that Wigan Athletic fans snapped up tickets in their droves for this weekend’s Macclesfield cup tie and that they were all sold out in  a few hours. Let’s be honest, even at double the price there still would have been a good take up given the penchant for Latics fans to enjoy a day out in the cup and a refreshing change from the overpriced, sterile and sanitised tedium of Premier League away days. That aside, for all the endless stick that Wigan Athletic gets about it’s home and away support, pricing is a key factor when it comes to determining whether fans can afford to travel or not.

 

The outrage in the media around Man City fans being charged £62 a head and sending 900 tickets back has been well documented. Closer to home, we have lost two reasonably cheap aways from last year in Bolton and Blackburn and are left locally with United (£42) and Liverpool (£44) along with the slightly cheaper Everton and City. Also, coming up soon we’ve got Chelsea charging a mere £47 for our presence. And no doubt some internet wag will have a field day posting pictures of twitter of our pathetic away support (bonus points if it’s taken an hour before kick off) whilst real fans of all clubs will be out paying through the nose to watch their team play.

 

Frankly it’s a disgrace that it’s taken the cost of a single match ticket getting to £62 for this to happen. Are we saying that charging £47 for 90 minutes entertainment therefore represents good value? Does it balls!! It’s extortion and we have the perfect example in the opening paragraph: £14 to go to Macclesfield, or £18 for a covered seat in the stand. The facilities might not be up to Old Trafford or Anfield standard – for example, they may have restricted leg room or a severely restricted view – mind you the ones at Anfield do that too but at least they don’t add insult to injury by hitting you in the wallet as well as insulting your intelligence.

 

The increased cost of building plush new all seater stadia or developing new ones was not supposed to be met through the paying customers, it was meant to be met by the millions poured into the game by Sky year on year. What is even more insulting is that it is the club’s who have the greatest amount of commercial revenue who seem to charge the most: Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and United have extensive European and Champions League experience and are global brands who rake in millions upon millions every year through merchandising and sponsorship yet they also see fit to hit their own fans the hardest and those away spectators who travel to their grounds. Why? Because they can, because their demand is the greatest. They have an endless queue of punters ranging from those who can’t beat the bug and are lifelong fans and those eager day trippers eager to fill their seats if they get priced out.

 

To be fair, it only affects Wigan Athletic fans when we travel away – or choose not to – but it let us not forget that our own cuddly Dave Whelan put up match tickets to £35 a few years back and only climbed down when the home and away tickets took a sharp nosedive, many of those fans who still haven’t come back.

 

So what is the FSF asking for? It is asking for a £20 cap on away tickets in the hope it will boost away followings and reward those fans who make the biggest commitment. I don’t think this is all they are going to aim for, as it stands to reason that if you’re letting away fans into the ground for £20, then you’re going to have to let the home fans in for the same price. Ultimately, this could lead to a reduction in season tickets across the board as well. Maybe not for us as our season tickets are already under £20 a game but that is demand led, and if everyone reduced their prices by £100 then who knows, Wigan Athletic may move in the same direction to remain their competitive edge. Think big or do nothing. Let’s remember, none of the clubs in the Premier League need that entry level revenue that much – Wigan Athletic generate only 6% of their total turnover from ticket sales, they are bleeding what working class fans can afford to still attend the match dry.

 

Don’t go thinking the Championship is a paragon of fiscal nirvana either as Ipswich apparently charged Brighton fans £38.50 to get into Portman Road the other week….

 

Soapbox firmly put away, but if you want to read more about the FSF’s cause, read on below or even pop along to their event in Manchester on Thursday evening, details of which are also below:

 

The Football Supporters’ Federation will launch the Score Campaign: Twenty’s Plenty for Away Tickets in central Manchester on Thursday 24th January (7pm). The event is free and open to fans of ALL clubs – we want to see you there. This is the first in a series of nationwide meetings to be announced, including one in London on Thursday 31st January (venue TBC).

REGISTRATION – Email your name, club and which venue you’ll be attending: tickets@fsf.org.uk.

  • Manchester, Thursday 24th January (7pm): The Alibi (corner of Oxford Street and Portland Street), M1 4BH – click here to see a map. The venue has disabled access.
  • London, Thursday 31st January: Venue TBC.

The news that Manchester City returned 900 tickets for Sunday’s visit to Arsenal was the ember that sparked the current fire but match-going fans have long known that football is unaffordable for many. This is especially true of away fans who, aside from match tickets, must contend with spiralling food, drink and travel costs.

The idea behind the Score Campaign is simple – we want clubs throughout England and Wales to agree to charge no more than £20 for away match tickets (£15 concessions). These meetings will explain the fundamental ideas and principles behind the Score Campaign.

They will also explore how we can bring together the different campaigns and petitions that are already in place. There are thousands of fans out there prepared to devote time and energy to this subject – these meetings will try and harness that energy. High prices affect supporters in all leagues and solutions must be found for all fans.

There has been a tremendous groundswell of opinion from fans with campaigns and petitions popping up all across the country. This feels like a real turning point when fans across the country are putting aside tribal differences to speak with one voice and say enough is enough.

Away fans are the distilled essence of football supporters. The hardcore. Travelling fans spend the most money and make the most effort supporting their clubs. Without away fans the atmosphere dies and football loses something of what makes it so special. We need fans to come together over the coming weeks to make sure that doesn’t happen.

  • If you cannot make either event but would still like to be involved in the Score Campaign email ‘Volunteer&#39

    ; to tickets@fsf.org.uk. Please include your name, club and city/town of residence. We’ll be back in touch in due course once actions have been agreed.

See link here for further details

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