Priced out? Then make your voice heard

Liverpool fans hold banners on the Kop image 4525499

Every other week it seems there’s a new controversy over ticket prices, whether it’s Wigan Athletic fans choosing to boycott Elland Road because of the cost of tickets, or Leeds United fans furious at being charged £40 for a trip to Carrow Road.

This isn’t a pop at fans of any one club, we see ridiculously high prices throughout the leagues, at many, many clubs - this is a criticism of pricing policies that affect us all.

Take Leeds United. Visitors to Elland Road can pay £41 for Category A games, and we’ve seen fans playing tit-for-tat on Twitter, as though paying punters set the prices e.g. “You charged us £36, so why shouldn’t we charge you £40?”

But Leeds United fans pay high home prices too and are regularly charged Cat A prices on their travels. Supporters have to stand as one on ticket prices and not allow clubs to divide and rule.

£nough is £nough

A great example of that took place on Merseyside, back in September, when fans from Everton and Liverpool joined forces to say “£nough is £nough”. The protest was organised by FSF affiliates Blue Union and Spirit of Shankly (SoS).

SoS were in the news again at the start of the month as they continued their price protests with banners on the Kop, receiving national coverage in the process. Costs on the Kop have risen from £4 in 1990 to £43 in 2010. What price by 2020?

That matchday activism was followed up on Thursday as SoS, along with Spion Kop 1906 and the club’s own Supporter Committee reps, met with club officials to discuss the concerns of supporters - read more on that here.

SoS say the meeting was “positive” with broad agreement on many issues relating to pricing and atmosphere, the importance of banner displays on the Kop, and ensuring the club’s traditions and history are passed on to future generations.

The club agreed to the establishment of a working group which will include supporters and “weight” opinions on issues such as ticket pricing, with more weight given to those who are directly affected.

What can I do? Fans across the country should follow the lead of groups like SoS and organise campaigns at their club. Don’t wait for someone else to do it.

The FSF lobbies the FA, Premier League and Football League, and organises events such as August’s Affordable Football for All demo (below), but clubs don’t rely on the FSF for their income. They rely on their own fans and that’s why you need to pressure your club directly.

There’s no “one size fits all” model, different strategies work at different clubs. However, we’d encourage everyone to promote reciprocal pricing, an idea that has been proven to work, having saved fans £342,000 during 2013-14. That total will be beaten this season.

With the Premier League currently negotiating the next round of media rights, there’s never been a better time for fans of top-flight sides to lobby their clubs.

The last media deal showered clubs with an extraordinary amount of cash, rising from around £3.4bn to £5.5bn over the three year period covering 2013-16. That's enough to give £50 to every single fan, at every single game top-flight game over the course of a season.

Jaw-dropping figures and the next deal will almost certainly be bigger again.

Top-flight clubs have enough money to cut prices, but fans need to make them feel the heat. By the end of 2014 Twenty’s Plenty will have saved fans almost £500,000 and there’s the £12m Away Fans Initiative too. Progress has been made, but there’s still loads to do.

For example, Football League clubs don’t have those huge income streams and say they have less flexibility, but focused, fan-driven campaigns can still make a difference.

We’ve seen Barnsley and Derby County agree to reciprocal deals and doubtless there are others out there in the Football League (let us know if your club has entered one via tickets@fsf.org.uk). Why not lobby your club to do likewise?

Another idea might be to encourage your club to use local promotion deals to better effect. Every Football League club is allowed to drop prices for home fans four times per season. Unfairly, this means away fans still have to pay top whack.

But how about asking your club to set up a reciprocal local promo? This means your club’s travelling fans would receive discounted tickets for an away trip and, in return, rivals coming to your ground would benefit from a cheaper deal too.

Campaign ideas:

  • Sign and share the Twenty’s Plenty petition;
  • Take SoS’s lead and sort out visual displays (remember to take lots of pics);
  • Hand out Twenty’s Plenty flyers on matchday (email tickets@fsf.org.uk and we’ll be happy to get a batch sent out to you);
  • Bring together blogs, fanzines, and fans’ groups, and draft a joint letter to your club outlining widespread support for lower prices, reciprocal deals and Twenty’s Plenty;
  • Boycotts? Fans are a loyal bunch, and this is the nuclear option, but if you think this is the only way to make your voice heard at your club, then let us know and we’ll cover the story. Fans at Wigan Athletic and Huddersfield Town have deployed this tactic, as well as those in Germany.

Think we’ve missed a trick? Email your campaign ideas to tickets@fsf.org.uk.

Thanks to Action Images for the image used in this blog.