The Newcastle United Supporters Trust met with other fans groups to discuss how to make our game cheaper, fairer and for everyone
The Newcastle United Supporters Trust were represented in London yesterday (Friday 23rd January) for a meeting with the Football Supporters Federation whose chief executive, Kevin Miles, has been a consistent critic of ticket pricing.
This affects Newcastle and Sunderland in particular, if we stick to the Premier League, as they travel more miles than any other set of supporter with perhaps the exception of Swansea.
The FSF tells us that “nine out of 10 fans tell us they think prices are too expensive”. This begs the question – who are the 10% who believe everything is just fine and dandy.
Both North East EPL clubs have gone out their way to reduce ticket prices at home and there are some agreements between certain clubs wherein the away tickets for their games are reduced.
West Brom are such a club and so are Swansea. This is great, but as it costs quite a bit to get to and from South Wales in a day, even more if you factor in an overnight stay, then a tenner off your seat isn’t such a big deal.
But that’s not to say something should not be done and this why the NUST were at the meeting along with Blue Union, Manchester United Supporters’ Trust, Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust and Liverpool’s Spirit of Shankly.
The FSF said: “We’re keen to find specific ideas which can be developed in conjunction with the Premier League and its clubs. A good example of this is our Twenty’s Plenty for Away Tickets which saved top-flight fans £342,000 during 2013-14.”
The agenda included:
- Kicking “categorisation” into rows/maximum away ticket price
- Prices for younger fans as they graduate out of “kids” concessionary prices
- How can the PL help fans get in front of decision-makers at clubs who set the prices.
This categorisation is something that has crept into football in recent years and is simply a way of fleecing fans who want to go to the bigger, more glamorous matches.
FSF chair Malcolm Clarke, speaking in the Independent said: “This business of categorising matches is blatantly unfair.
“Just because Manchester City have a lot of money doesn’t mean their supporters have, and the same is true of the other teams who get charged the highest prices every time they play.” Duncan Drasdo is founder of Reds in Business, a Manchester United supporters group who have become increasingly vocal regarding ownership.
While Newcastle supporters and Mike Ashley have rarely seen eye to eye, the same can be said about their counterparts in Manchester and the Glazer family.
And this is despite many cups and a Champions League triumph coming during the Americans’ era.
Here are a few of his organisation’s suggestions:
- The time has come for Government to act on football club ownership and governance reform;
- The key is no single shareholder having control of the club allowing them to exploit it for their own benefit;
- Clubs’ professional management & board should be free to manage without owner interference.
Many other European countries protect their sporting institutions with regulations and law but we have no such protection in UK.
As Drasdo said: “Only owners who wish to exploit clubs for their own benefit at the expense of the club should feel the need to oppose these reforms.”
This is something the FA and Premier League need to look out because if 90% of their customers – a word that has crept in more and more in recent years – feel going to games costs too much, then it costs too much.
And if the overwhelming general consensus is that just about anyone with the right amount of money can buy one of our clubs, then something is wrong.
It already costs a lot to follow Sunderland and Newcastle in terms of the emotional baggage every fan carries with them.
Those in charge must put pressure on the club owners, at least those who will listen, about making football for everyone.
Not just those with a disposable income.