West Ham ticket price cut is not all that it seems

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For any West Ham fans still opposed to the club's impending move away from their traditional home at the Boleyn Ground, to the Olympic stadium in Stratford, the news that they will be greeted with a reduction in season ticket prices is sure to soften the blow.

In an effort to make football more affordable for supporters and their families, the West Ham Vice-Chairman, Karen Brady, has announced that ticket prices are to be slashed as low as £289 for the cheapest adult season ticket, a reduction of £331 from the current price structure.

Brought about as a result of the new £5.13bn television deal, which will come into play in 2016-17, West Ham view  this as an opportune time to ease the burden on supporters by offsetting their price reductions with the increased revenue they are due to receive.

Speaking on her West Ham blog, Brady said, "we just felt that was an opportunity to celebrate with our supporters, to give them a far superior product at a cheaper price".

"We want to set a trend by becoming the first Premier League side to use the greater broadcast revenue from 2016 to reduce ticket prices, which we believe will be a huge step forward in the battle to make football cheaper to watch".

As season ticket prices have continued to escalate at an alarming rate in recent seasons-as high as £2,013 in the case of Arsenal, this represents a significant step in the battle for clubs to set a price which allows them to remain competitive, while at the same time allowing the majority of their supporters to be able to afford a ticket.

Bound to now put pressure on other Premier League clubs to follow suit, West Ham must be congratulated for their bold efforts in making this happen.

However, the motive behind their recent spout of generosity remains questionable. Whilst it appears a very noble decision to take, this contentious issue is not quite all as it seems.

Hidden agenda

A maximum 5% rise in ticket prices for next season means that the proposed reductions will only occur as of the 2016-17 season, when coincidentally they are due to move into the new Olympic Stadium.

With a capacity of 54,000, an increase of 19,000 on the club's current home at Upton Park, the reductions do promote the theory that West Ham would struggle to fill out the new stadium under the current pricing structure. After all, why has it taken until now for  the club to offer a helping hand to its supporters.

No cuts at Arsenal

If compared to Arsenal's situation when they took up residency at the Emirate's Stadium in 2006, having relocated from Highbury, knowing that they had a hefty waiting list ready to fill the 60,000 capacity stadium, no such reduction in ticket prices was required. Instead, as demand grew so did the costs, yet that clearly is not the case at West Ham.

With this in mind, it does suggest that other clubs who regularly sell-out their matches, will not be forced into similar pricing tactics.

Although there is clearly a hidden agenda related to West Ham's generosity, it is nevertheless a positive approach taken by the club, which will be greatly received by the supporters. However, should the Olympic Stadium eventually prove to sell-out, will we see the prices begin to soar?

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