In the wake of the Premier League announcing a new record television deal that will come in to place next year the distance between the haves and have-nots appears to be widening at an alarming rate.
Whilst clubs in the lower reaches of the football league are fighting for survival the Premier League giants, and Premier League clubs in general, have never had it so good.
However, income for supporters is not rising at the same rate so it is important that clubs across the country, particularly in the lower leagues, take this in to consideration.
Ticket prices, therefore, are a constant point of debate as supporters groups up and down the country urge their clubs to lower prices to ensure that the ordinary supporters can still access what was once a working mans game.
Whilst some clubs do offer discounts on certain games, with bring a friend and kids for a quid deals, they need to do more. Much more.
Greed is the only reason that I can see for clubs not reducing prices on a more consistent basis with one alarming issue coming to my attention only this week.
Rotherham United, it is rumoured, are to charge visiting Sheffield Wednesday supporters £40 for an adult ticket for their Championship clash in March, whilst also cutting their allocation of tickets. Obviously Rotherham are keen to allow as many of their own supporters to attend the game, and maximise the support they receive on the day, but to charge visiting supporters an increased amount of money is shameful. The top price ticket for Rotherham United, bought on a match-day, is £27. How can the difference be justified?
Rotherham know that Sheffield Wednesday, with their close geographic proximity and huge following, will sell their allocation comfortably whatever the price. Is this a case of a home club taking advantage of away supporters? Will drinks and food in the away section also be at an increased price? Surely this is unfair. It is also a risky strategy as away supporters could try and purchase tickets in the home section and the consequences of that could be catastrophic and backfire badly on the home side.
Rotherham United, I am sure, are not the only club to do this but I do feel that it is time for the football authorities to step in particularly in cases like this.
Are there similar cases of ticket pricing policies like this elsewhere?
Change is needed
How many clubs would be able to boast higher attendances if admission prices were lowered? The answer – probably most. Very few clubs below the Premier League can say they are full to capacity every home again despite the attraction of the game at present.
Increased attendances equals a better atmosphere in grounds which in turn can spur your side on to victory. Victories can then lead to promotion and increased revenues. Are football club chairmen looking too short term when prices are set at the beginning of the season. Look at clubs in Germany who offer ticket prices at a fraction of what we are expected to pay and reap the rewards by having the best attendances, on average, across Europe.
If people are attracted to the ground then they are going to spend money on their match-day experience buying such things as programmes, merchandise in the club shop and food and drink in the ground. Will clubs therefore lose out if they do lower admission prices? I don’t think so.
Smaller club’s need to attract the next generation of supporters to their grounds otherwise they will simply support the top clubs in the country because they are exposed to them week in week out on the television and through various other media sources. How many Real Madrid, Manchester United , Barcelona and Liverpool shirts do we see on youngsters up and down the country? Smaller clubs cannot compete with that.
I understand that the attraction of the Premier League means that most grounds are sold out each week and therefore football clubs have no need to lower prices as there is no incentive to do so. However, at Championship level, and below, there is no excuse.
I feel it is important that clubs start to put their supporters first otherwise when the bubble bursts, which at some point it will, clubs will look towards their fans for their support but the bridges may well have been burnt by then.