By Phil Blundell
AS someone who is a regular in away grounds, I’m quite frankly sick of being exploited by other Premier League teams simply because I support a traditionally big, successful club.
Not long ago against West Bromwich Albion we were charged an extortionate £42 to gain entrance to the away end of the Hawthorns.
This weekend, that very same side are playing Bolton at home. Bolton fans are paying £15 to get in to the away end.
It’s something that was recently raised at the meeting of the new Supporters Committee and I’d like to think that the likes of our owners, and Iain Ayre would be happy to try and address.
During my scouting round doing some research I’ve discovered that QPR fans are charging West Brom fans £35 for their game in a couple of week’s time. That’s a price I don’t consider to be extortionate in comparison to the how things generally work in the Premier League. That’s not to say it’s acceptable, but if I was to be able to pay £35 for each of our 38 League games this season I’d be considerably better off come May.
Now compare this to last weekend when QPR played Manchester City the other weekend, City fans who made the trip down paid £55 to sit in the same seats.
We’ll pay the same, United will pay the same, Chelsea will pay the same, Arsenal will pay the same, Spurs will pay the same.
I could probably spend the next few hours going through club’s websites and comparing away ticket prices, but what’s the point? I already know that fans of the country’s bigger clubs (Not Everton then? – Ed) are being had. If you want to explore it further, feel free. It’s a joke.
It’s exploitation because you support a team who have good players and are in the upper echelons of football. It stinks. Just because I support a team who may get in to the Champions League, or win the title, or whatever, it doesn’t make me wealthier than a fan of a team who will spend 38 games fighting to stay in the division.
So why do we get treated that way?
It is, at the end of the day, a football match in the Premier League. More expensive than the Championship? Sound, I’ve no problem with that, it should be.
But the structured pricing for games in the same League is a piss take.
Speaking of Bolton, I used to work and live with a match-going Bolton fan. We earned the same wages, paid the same rent, so simplistically we were on as equal a financial footing as two people can be.
I support Liverpool, he supports Bolton, and we both enjoy going to watch our team. If anyone can explain to me just one reason I should have to pay the best part of three times as much for a ticket to watch my team play the same team in the same ground, in pretty much the same the same seat then I’d love to hear it.
Simply put, there isn’t one.
It’s something that others may well consider perverse, but this actually bothers me more than it does places just being outright expensive. Chelsea is £59 for the Upper Tier in the League game, they’re playing Wolves in between our two ties there – Wolves fans are being charged £50 for the same seat.
Now it is a different price, but its £9. It’s buttons in the grand scheme of things. It’s expensive and once you get to £50, adding £1 on for every ten minutes of football watched isn’t that bad.
To put it another way, Wolves pay 55p a minute, we pay 65p. In the above example at West Brom, we paid 47p a minute; the Bolton fans this weekend will pay 17p a minute.
The difference is staggering.
On a pay per minute basis, they could pay the same amount this season, next season, and still have enough to watch the first 79 minutes in the 2013/2014 season before they’d even equalled how much it cost for one of our visits to the Hawthorns.
Here’s an idea: A maximum price for away fans in the Premier League. It doesn’t matter who the home team is, it doesn’t matter who the away team is.
Charge everyone £25, maybe a bit more, maybe a bit less; whatever the clubs are comfortable with. The obvious cry is that clubs would lose money, but I don’t think they’d lose that much.
Away followings would logically increase if it became more affordable.
Ergo, in certain games they’d make more which would cover at least some of the shortfall.
If we were to charge 3000 Manchester United fans £25, then clearly, it would cost us somewhere in the region of £75,000 from a very rough calculation. £75000.
There’d however be increased away fans from certain clubs. Clubs come to Anfield failing to fill their allocation, leaving seats empty. Now I’m not 100% sure how the intricacies of the agreements clubs have on unsold tickets work, some may get charged, some may not, I don’t know the conclusive answer.
I do know that an empty seat can’t pay £4 for a Programme. It can’t pay £3 for a Pie. It can’t pay £3.50 for a warm bottle of Carlsberg.
Would Bolton take 2600 fans to West Brom at £42 a ticket? No, of course they wouldn’t. They’d probably take about 600. So the £27 decrease has actually made them an extra £13k on ticket revenue (on the rough estimate above), you add that to the increased ‘in ground revenue’ and they’ve paid a players wages for a week. Maybe two. Maybe even three.
To enforce this, every club would have to agree with it. Which club, under pressure from their own fans, would veto it? How would they then go to their fans if they did and say “You know what, I’m happy for you to go away from home and get ripped off?”.
Wolves fans wouldn’t be paying £50 next week for a start, and more of Wolves’ fans would go as a result.
Where’s the fun in paying £50 to watch your team probably lose?
Drop that to £25 however and it’s not as bad. Another few hundred Wolves fans may make the trip. The probability of winning doesn’t increase, but a 50% decrease and they’d certainly feel a hell of a lot better about things.
Ian Ayre was slated recently for wanting structure to the overseas TV deals so that the bigger clubs would in effect get more money. There was outcry because he wanted us to get a bigger portion of the pie. Well, if the rest of the Premier League wants to beat the ‘TREAT US EQUALLY’ drum, and it’s a drum that they should definitely be beating by the way, then they should stop with the hypocrisy.
This comment is from a certain Premier League Chairman:
“What we have is the finest league in the whole world and what Liverpool are calling for would absolutely wreck it. The likes of Wigan, Bolton, Blackburn, Wolves, Sunderland and Newcastle couldn’t compete.”
This particular Premier League Chairman wants to be treated equally, but sees absolutely no problem with charging Blackburn fans at his ground £20. Last season he charged us £28. A mere 40% difference. You don’t want to us having more money from TV deals than Blackburn?
Then charge us the same amount as you charge Blackburn fans then Dave Whelan.