Wednesday 6 May 2015

Football Match Tickets in the UK

The issue of expensive football tickets has been in the news for a few weeks. While I believe it is a very important subject worthy of debate I however despair at some of the comments by football pundits. Some of their pronouncement can be easily classified in the 'WTF' category.

Two weeks ago, this issue was resurrected by the decision of some Liverpool fans to boycott their match against Hull because the latter had classified that match as a 'top class' match and was charging £50. This was especially infuriating to Liverpool fans as Hull had charged £16 for their game versus Burnley.  

Just wondering if like most people the Liverpool fans realised their team might lose against Hull and decided to develop a smoke screen to block the loss off the front pages of newspapers the next day.

I wonder why Liverpool FC fans want their club to be regarded as a ‘big’ club when compare themselves to Burnley FC. Surely you can't be that big. 

Why is it so difficult to get the simple and basic principle that watching Liverpool play is likely to be more entertaining that watching paint dry (sorry I meant Burnley play)?  

Why is it challenging to understand that when Liverpool are in town, the demand for tickets will be higher? Like any student of Adam Smith in High School will tell you, when the supply (stadium capacity) is limited or fixed and the demand (fans desire or request for tickets) is higher than the supply, something will have to give. Usually it is the price that gives or chaos reigns i.e some unscrupulous people in an unregulated game sell more tickets than seats. 

If for any reason, you didn’t do economics in High School, try this analogy. If there is only one fine girl in town and more than one guy wants her, there will be a beauty parade of the guys and invariably the more endowed one wins. 

So Liverpool FC fans and all other big club fans that complains about the cost of football tickets. Please stop and think. WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE THE SUCCESS OF YOUR CLUB OR THE LOWER PRICES YOUR STRUGGLING COMPETITORS PAY?

Also on the issue of ticket prices, a review of the EPL clubs finances for the  2013/14 season shows that none of the clubs rely on gate takings as their primary source of income. In fact a lot of them can allow free entry and still make a tidy profit. TV money is the big golden hen. The huge money from TV is the reason why football club owners are increasingly indifferent to the cries of fans about the cost of football tickets. Why should they care if they are guaranteed £100m per season if no fan turns up? As businesses I don’t blame club owners. They are not in the business of giving it away. 

Although what many club owners and indeed many fans fail to realise is that the TV money is also from fans therefore the power to hurt football clubs and get them to do something about ticket prices ultimately rest with fans.

SKY and BT and all the other broadcasting channels need fans in the stadium to sell football matches on TV as the absence of fans takes away one of the key props (i.e the atmosphere) for SKY & BT. These companies fund the billion pound payout to the EPL through the football packages you and I purchase.  

If fans want to effect change they can. Here is how: 
- All season ticket holders to renew their season tickets as usual especially if it is at a club with a long waiting list. You still love your club and you don’t want to lose your season ticket place. However for the first 5 home match of the season, STAY AWAY. Same applies to Away Travel Scheme members. Hopefully fans do these in massive numbers to ensure the clubs and broadcasters notice. I know this will cost you £250 roughly but remember you are trying to effect CHANGE. It wont come cheap.

 - All non season ticket holders should not buy a ticket for the first 5 matches as well. For these ones, there is no financial loss. They will only miss the joy of supporting their club. Yes a very big price to pay but remember CHANGE IS NOT CHEAP

 - All subscribers to SKY and BT Sports should not renew their sports / football bundle for the first 2 months of the football season. You actually lose nothing financially by doing. Yes you miss the adrenaline and joy you feel when you are watching your club play. But if your actions can help ensure that club owners sit up and listen to fans, then you would have achieved a significant moral victory and the desired outcome. 

 - Fans should not buy any item from the Club shops or on line during the same period

If fans can do all of the above, the clubs and their owners will panic and I foresee the Premier League Management suddenly directing the clubs to do something about ticket prices. Only if fans can take this action in sufficient numbers.

It is not easy, nothing good comes easy. It will not be achieved in one day buy if we genuinely believe we can effect change then lets take the power back, it is in our own hands. We fund these billion pound pay out. Lets demand value for our money through reduced ticket prices.

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