Date: 9th October 2015 at 5:25pm
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Last weekend saw protests from fans from Premier League Clubs and some Championship clubs when it came to the price paid by supporters to ‘attend’ the ‘beautiful game’…

The Football Supporters’ Federation focused mainly on the price paid by away travellers in this particular protest, calling for a cap of a maximum £20 away ticket under the banner of ‘Twenty’s Plenty’ because in the Premier League the average ticket price paid by fans is said to be £53.76.

Of course that means our money bloated top flight is the most expensive across the world for fans, and for many hard working folk of the country it doesn’t really get any easier down the football pyramid either in reality, despite the English game and the Premier League itself being the most commercial full stop.

GoEuro’s Price Index look at ticket prices pointed out that fans in this country could effectively travel to Germany of a weekend and take in a game for the same price they pay to watch Premiership football, and discussions about ticket prices obviously are nothing new when you factor in the money spent for 90 minutes of action in other ‘entertainment’ industries.

But of course football isn’t just that, it’s in the blood, it’s about loyalty and very few things in life can ruin your entire week even though you can do nothing about it – short of maybe the ‘significant other’.

Anyway, the FSF pointed out that for the Premier League – and obviously all Football League clubs will benefit somewhat from this – the new television deal could mean that clubs in the top flight could open their doors for free next season and ‘still’ register greater revenue compared to this year and that’s certainly worth thinking about.

For fairness I should say a Premier League spokesperson pointed out that the comparison they used looked at the most expensive tickets available so obviously it didn’t give the truest of pictures or a ‘fair reflection’ of prices paid by fans because of how ticket prices are actually structured in terms of cheap seats and season tickets.

FSF CEO Kevin Miles explained.

‘Over the past 25 years money has flowed into football enriching players, owners, executives and agents – we think it’s about time fans saw some of the benefits too. Nine out of 10 fans feel that football is too expensive but fans’ loyalty and commitment to their clubs is being exploited.’

It seems the Football League grasped onto that idea given the press about the protest and for the first time ever they have released an average for each Football League division in the 2014-15 season.

With the BBC’s Price of Football Study showing in 2014 that ticket prices had risen at twice the rate of cost of living since 2011, their 2015 release later this month could make interesting reading.

In the Championship they say fans paid £15.65.

League One it’s £11.72.

League Two it’s £11.58.

Overall that’s £14.08 and I certainly can’t argue – I hate maths and have no intention of trying to confirm it.

The Football League in their study also confirmed that clubs took in a combined £213million last season from 15.1million tickets and they are very quick to point out that not included in those figures are 1.3million ‘free admission’ tickets given out in schemes to schools and through community projects.

As a parent, whatever I pay for a ticket and a trip involves my children it still costs food, drink, programme, merchandise, and travel so in my experience I’d still probably ‘feel’ I should add £20 minimum per person to the averages there – but to be fair maybe we just eat and drink a lot?

The FL explain further that the averages include match day offers, match day ticket prices as well as the prices paid by season ticket holders, and those in corporate areas so it is the best ‘average’ they can come up with.

The cynic would say cheap seats bring the average down, but being fair including corporate hospitality and the mark up there fans should be striving to pay only the average from this point forward!

FL CEO Shaun Harvey explained that for him it showed that Football League clubs ‘continue’ to offer good value for money for the 90 minutes.

‘Ticket pricing will always be an emotive subject and any debate about whether fans are getting a good deal clearly has to take account of what fans are paying across the board rather than purely focusing on selected prices that they could be asked to pay in certain circumstances. Clubs offer a wide variety of ticket prices with the best value being offered to those home fans that commit to purchasing a season ticket or benefitting from a ticket promotion. As a result, season ticket holders now make up a greater proportion of crowds and account for 10 million of the 16 million plus admissions to Football League matches every season.’

Harvey continued to say.

‘The inevitable consequence of offering such good value to these fans at one end of the spectrum is that those fans at the other end, such as those paying on the day for a single match, will be asked to pay more.’

Of course we can look at selective prices – supply and demand and if one person is prepared to pay £500 for a ticket that somebody else is only prepared to pay £20 for, then the more flush amongst us will win that particular battle and I doubt the Premier League and the Football League will show much concern when they enjoy their annual Christmas Party.

Or, left field idea here…it’s the same game, a plastic seat, you roll the dice on being dry or getting wet as you roll the dice on being happy or frustrated to a level that would leave Lucifer saying ‘calm down’.

Does one view from a ground or an early booking ‘really’ require some fans to pay more? Or Less? Of course fans who commit to season tickets should get a benefit – let’s not be daft enough to think in football all season tickets holders have that money hiding in a coffee jar – there are financial packages available and people sacrifice for that and it should be honoured and rewarded.

But to claim ‘good value’ means you can only reward the committed, by then – in a way – punishing the less committed is ridiculous.

When I go the cinema, I don’t expect to pay more because I needed to pee and take my seat after the film has started. I don’t expect to buy a takeout and then suddenly find I have to pay more than I would for delivery just because I decided to pick it up myself.

I don’t expect supermarkets to suddenly start giving discounts to the people who can turn up early on in the morning, and the forcing people to pay more when the food is slightly more out of date.

So there has to be a balance and with the redistribution of the new television money to kick in, season ticket holders can remain rightly rewarded price wise for their efforts but there has to be a lot of sense in finding a ‘cap’ somewhere along the way for both home and away individual match day buyers.

With the Premiership especially often called the ‘best league in the world’ and being hugely attractive to sponsors, that only continues to exist if fans continue to create an atmosphere and if the game can’t be made fairer for fans, eventually alienation will see a real drop in attendance figures and the entire bubble will eventually burst.

So greed ruining the party or sensible balance that sees ‘all’ fans rewarded from an ever growing pie?

If those averages are correct then a call for a maximum cap of around £20-25 surely is feasible, allows clubs to capitalise and maximise revenue levels in the way they currently do but in more of a fixed and fairer structure that benefits all.

There’s been plenty of shift to added value in the game and the match day experience, now maybe is the right time to look at the baseline price rather than unwanted additional extras in the eyes of a number of fans or merchandise discounts that are naturally there to temp further spending anyway.

Balance is a beautiful word.

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