How much is a pie? What does a cup of tea cost? How much is the club Programme now? Questions some of my mates couldn’t answer for you if you’re talking about at St. James’ Park. Partly because they’re all of an age where they have to watch their cholesterol levels and so pies are a definite “no” on match days, cups of tea are rarely on the agenda when they’re out with their mates and nobody wants to pay to read the club propaganda. The other reason is because they reckon it’s just putting more money into Mike Ashley’s pocket and they won’t do that. Ironic really because Ashley’s outsourced all the catering at St. James’ Park so he’s already had his money up front whether they buy anything or not.
Anyway, the BBC’s Price of Football Study is out this week analysing how much it’s costing us to go to the match. It’s found that 80% of ticket prices have been frozen or reduced this season. It’s also provided tables of information about the comparative prices of pies and cups of tea at all grounds around the country. Have a look at it – just click here.
Is this good news then, showing that the greedy bastards in charge of our game are actually giving something back? Perhaps it would be if you ignored the fact that when the current TV contract was negotiated it gave every club in the Premier League enough OF AN INCREASE from the previous contract to allow every fan to be allowed into every game for free and they would still have more money than before! The indications are that the next bidding war for TV coverage will outstrip the current £8.3 billion global deal.
Deloitte’s annual football finance report shows clearly that football clubs have three main sources of income, the TV deal, match day attendances and commercial revenues. Because of the first one, the second one is becoming less and less important. But where will football be without crowds watching it? At the moment, however, grounds are full and there’s no sign that it’s going to change any time soon. One of the few positive things you can say about the Ashley years is that he’s put a competitive ticketing policy in place for long term season ticket holders. I’ve been paying the same price for my season ticket for about seven years now and its guaranteed to stay the same for about another eight or nine! Before our relegation the club was taking the lead in agreeing reciprocal ticket pricing arrangements with a number of clubs for away matches.
Since our return to the Premier League the Football Supporters Federation’s Twenty’s Plenty campaign achieved some success by getting a £30 on away tickets. It felt like a real achievement for fan action after years of challenging clubs about the price of tickets. In the cold light of reality it seems like the least clubs could do when they were divvying up the £8.3 billion.
Where the BBC Study suggests the biggest impact is going to be is in pricing young fans out of the game. Many clubs have deals in place for childrens tickets, usually paid for by parents. Once they reach adulthood and have to pay for their own ticket, and realise there’s a huge jump in the cost of an adult ticket from a kid’s many of them decide going to the match is not for them. The BBC suggest only one in four 18 to 24 year olds watch live football once a month or more. They are drifting away from the game. It’s even suggested that the growth in computer gaming has meant that young people would rather play, or even watch other young people play, computerised games. There’s already international competitions and the term e-Sports has been coined to describe this new world of competitive gaming and the stakes are high. Some tournaments have six figure payouts and major stadiums get packed with people watching the action! If football clubs price young people out of the game, or take away the atmosphere they enjoy by refusing to allow standing, singing sections in grounds todays crowds will literally be dying off and there won’t be a generation of fans to take our places.
So who is selling the best pies and cups of tea etc. in the Premier League? Well the study doesn’t do the qualitative stuff but the cheapest pie is £2.50 at Chelsea, the most expensive is £4.30 at Tottenham. (Toon £3.60) The cheapest cup of tea is £1.00 at Crystal Palace and the most you’ll pay is £2.50 at Man. Utd. Liverpool and Arsenal. (Toon £2.30) Programmes are £3 or £3.50 everywhere except Southampton where you’ll pay £4.00. (Toon £3.00)
On the season ticket front the cheapest you can get is £100 at Huddersfield (Toon cheapest £473) and the most expensive is at Arsenal with a mind blowing and bank balance busting £1768.50. (Toon most expensive £735) What isn’t obvious from the figures are the details of season ticket schemes that affect the prices.
So, what do we all think? Fans are more and more aware of how much money is being piled into the game and we see most of it going to players and agents in increasingly obscene amounts. We keep turning up though and until the people running the game think there’s a chance that the bubble might burst they’ll keep getting richer and the fans will keep getting screwed. It’s interesting that in Germany where their clubs are more successful than ours and their grounds are full their prices are nowhere near the prices in the premiereship. When Bayern Munich played a Champions League match in March at Arsenal they had a banner with them protesting about the prices they had to pay at the Emirates which said “Without Fans Football is not Worth a Penny” Those in charge of the game need to think about that.
PETER FANNING – NEWCASTLE UNITED SUPPORTERS TRUST – FOLLOW NUST ON @nufctrust
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The latest issue of true faith (TF 134) is now available for you to download. Just click on the image below and its all yours. You can download and read the fanzine offline if you choose. The true faith fanzine is completely FREE of charge and we think it works great on a tablet or i-pad for the old school, read the fanzine whilst stretched on the sofa or sitting on the netty experience.
true faith is Newcastle United’s longest running and most widely read fanzine. It is one of the UK’s most popular, well-known and respected fanzine titles. Since 1999, true faith has been providing the alternative view on life at Newcastle United and football in general. true faith is predominantly written and designed by people who pay to watch Newcastle United home and away.
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