Manchester city, the current Champions of England, travel down to that there London on Sunday, to face Arsenal. Apparently, the fans are – on top of the travel costs – being asked to stump up £62 to watch a game of football.
These are not the most expensive away tickets in the land, either.
For me, once the price went past £30 per ticket I found it hard to justify going to a match regularly. Particularly now with a son who wants to go. Factoring in the other costs of a day at the match, in some months the cost of football was equivalent to my family food shop. And that was at £30 per ticket. And just home games.
When does the “you can always find an extra fiver” logic stop?
Following football home and away has always been an expensive business – but none more so than now. In the reverse fixture in Manchester, Arsenal fans were charged £56 – not far off the same price.
Tiered pricing structures are in place at most clubs. Support a successful team? You’ll pay for that. Follow a well-supported team? That’ll cost you. Market forces, you see.
To listen to some reports, there has been a protest by city fans, resulting in the return of 2000 tickets for the fixture (Daily Telegraph later claimed around 900 tickets were returned).
To my mind, it is not a concerted protest. I can’t see any evidence that fans have been ring-fenced and said “NO!” collectively. Rather, individual fans have seen the price, looked in their post-christmas wallets and purses and said, “Nah…”
Kevin Parker, the general secretary of the Manchester City Supporters Club, told The Guardian: “It’s the most expensive amount I can ever remember paying for a ticket in my life, for a Sunday afternoon game which is live on satellite television.”
“There are a combination of things at play here. Some people cannot afford the price, especially as it is just after Christmas, and there are some who just refuse to pay £62. This is also the first time in a long while that I remember City fans saying to me they could pay the money but are refusing to do so. That is a brave decision to take. Soon, though, fans will vote more strongly with their feet and clubs like Arsenal will have to decide what to do about ticket prices.”
The usual tribal nonsense has raised its head – with opposing fans ridiculing a non-sellout and city fans defending the situation. How sad. There is a far more important issue at play here which should transcend petty one-upmanship.
It is not a case of “well done, City fans” – nor should it be an opportunity to goad fans of another team for not selling out their allocation. It is a case of shame on you, football, for taking fans for granted and treating them as a cash cow.
Perhaps once Sky has images of the biggest games in the land with empty seats on display, it will signal time for action?
Apply market rules to following football and treat fans like customers – they will eventually start to behave more like customers.