On the 9th of March 2016 there was finally a break through on the subject of ticket prices in England & Wales. The Premier League has announced, that through an agreement with all clubs, there will now be a £30 cap on away ticket prices for the next three seasons at least, meaning fans can expect to pay no more than £30 for a top flight game. For years now there has been a consistent increase of cost for a fan to follow his or her team. None more so than in the Premier League where standard tickets have been as high as £95 per person to watch a single game. The main culprits of this have been the bigger sides with the addition of teams in London. For example, a match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City in the 15/16 tickets had prices set at £95 for the remainder of the tickets which went on general sale. Whilst these prices have been extortionate, what beggars belief even more is some of the prices that adults have to pay to bring their child, the future of the game, to watch a match. An example of this is at West Ham United. This will astonish those who are unaware of these prices… What this means is that for a young West Ham fan growing up, they can expect their parents to pay the fee of £45 for their first game if they are a Non-Member.
Back in 2013 the FSF (Football Supporters Federation) launched a new campaign, Twenty’s Plenty. This campaign was aimed at supporters calling upon football clubs to reduce and cap away ticket prices at £20. Since then, the campaign have worked tirelessly with fans to try to make supporting your football club more affordable for everyone. There has been significant progress since they began their work. There have been a large amount of fans
protests, including October 2015. In addition to this there have been unplanned ones, for example, Liverpool announced a new £77 ticket for adults from next season. Based on this
the fans planned a walkout on the 77th minute in their home game against Sunderland, in this time Sunderland equalised, and Liverpool went back on what they had said and lowered their prices. Great news.
As mentioned previously, the biggest step in the fight for lower ticket prices was made on the 9th of March. The Premier League made the all important announcement that there would finally be a reduction on away tickets in the Barclays Premier League. These would be capped at £30. Don’t get me wrong, this is extremely good progress and something that has been very long in coming. However, I do worry that there is still a hell of a lot of work to be done. I look to clarify what things I still feel need doing.
Throughout the 2015/16 season, I have followed Swansea City in the Barclays Premier League at a large proportion of their away games. I think they are a fantastic club with great people, great fans & can (at times) play really good football. But one of the main things I love about the club this season is their “True to 22” initiative. This is the cap that Swansea put on for all their travelling members throughout the season. For example, if Liverpool set their prices at £47 then Swansea would pay £25 towards the cost whilst the fan would pay £22. This was also lower for concessions such as Young Adults, Under 16s and OAPs. That brings me onto my first concern, what happens to these initiatives that clubs have already set out that are below this £30 cap? Will they continue to stay in place & improve or will clubs use this as an advantage to charge this maximum price? I think this will differ from club to club based on the owners & chairpersons in charge at the club. However, I really hope that this limit won’t be a price that will only be met because compliance is set to that amount and that clubs will be happy to get involved and also continue to reduce to help fans.
The next point I hope to make, and in the near future, get some clarification on. As a 19 year old Apprentice myself, I enjoy having reduced price tickets with an average of around £15-18 for Premier League games and £10-15 for the Football League but sometimes I do have to pay a lot more than this. However, for a lot of people this is all that can keep them going to games with their friends, parents, grandparents or on their own. There are a lot of apprentices who could potentially be working for the minimum wage, which in itself, is ludicrous but don’t get me started on that. In addition to this, OAPs require cheaper tickets to continue to use their pensions to allow them to watch their team as they have done for a number of years. The question I ask, which has yet to be answered yet, will these concession prices be here to stay? Or will clubs use the reduction in Adult prices use it as an advantage to remove cheaper options to fans. Again, I really hope this is still an aspect of ticketing prices clubs will consider. There may be a rule for clubs to have concession prices, I don’t know.
I really don’t want this piece I’m writing seem negative but I’d like to just use it as an opportunity to highlight aspects that could cause a dark cloud to form over, what is, extremely important progress. There are just a few more points I’d like to make before
ending. Although these prices are extremely important, they are. They aren’t the be all and end all. It is so important that clubs, as well as lowering the prices, they continue to
offer away fans good services. Help with travel, good options for food & drink and options for young fans. An away trip isn’t just the game, it is the entire day from when people leave their house. In addition to this, it includes the quality of the match and the way the
club is run.
A perfect example of this is Blackpool Football Club. On the 14th of August 2010, Blackpool
opened their Premier League account with a 4-0 win over Wigan Athletic and this was their away following. Just 5 years later and at the same ground Blackpool took just 400 or so away fans, I appreciate this was in the JPT trophy but I still feel this is
besides the point. A lack of connection between the fans, players and board has left the club in turmoil and since then have been relegated twice, and now have limited resource, limited support & certainly no vision to
get back to the promise land.
There are of course more pros and cons to the argument but I don’t want it feel like a rant because it really is progress but I’m trying to showcase the point that we have plenty more work to do. It is certainly a good place to start and hopefully the Football League will act quickly in doing something similar to continue to fight to keep Football League attendances rising.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those fans who have worked collaboratively to encourage this problem to be tackled and I wonder where we would be without people working on campaigns such as Twenty is Plenty so thank you for everything you’ve done and lets continue this fight together!