Throughout last season, we asked members (join the FSF for free here) to send us the worst views they've experienced at a football match - and you’ve provided us with some real horror stories.
As we get into the swing of the 2016-17 season, the problem of restricted views continues to rear its ugly head.
Brentford are the latest club to contribute to the casefile - a new TV gantry at Griffin Park obstructing the view of many supporters there. Season ticket holders who weren't warned about it aren't best pleased.
Fans are more aware of the value of match tickets than ever with the best and worst deals making the rounds on social media – and supporters are particularly riled by expensive restricted view tickets.
For away fans in the Premier League , the £30 cap on away tickets will take the sting out of a restricted view to some extent. We'll no longer see the most notorious restricted views, such as those at the back of Liverpool's Anfield Road End, going for as much as £50.
Most of the contributions to our album are from older grounds of Premier League clubs, almost none from modern stadiums, with Crystal Palace, Goodison Park, Stamford Bridge and Anfield producing a lot of complaints from travelling fans. But the problem is apparent throughout the Football League too.
Leicester City fan Tom Salmon was the victim of a restricted view when he travelled to see his side play Everton at Goodison Park last season.
"I had two pillars obstructing my view,” Tom said. “One was two rows in front of me and thick which meant that I couldn't see one half of the centre circle, quite a vital area of the field of you ask me. If there had been a bad challenge resulting in a red card, I had no hope of seeing it.
"I think clubs should just be honest and transparent about restrictions. I understand that obviously pillars are needed and I would have more than likely still purchased the ticket if I had known because I love following my team. It was more the frustration of being sold a ticket on the premise of it being a standard ticket with a clear view. It left a bitter taste.
"If clubs were more up front I think they would get more respect from fans but it seems like they're just interested in making as much money as possible. I did feel ripped off.
"I would say at least £10 would be suitable discount on restricted views but it depends on how bad the restriction is.
"I know other people that saying at least 50% off. Like I say it depends on the restriction. If I had paid £10 less and known about the view, I couldn't complain.
"For the record I paid £34 in February 2015 for a clear view and £36, 10 months later, for an awful view. Doesn't seem fair."
FSF Deputy Chair Martin O’Hara is all too familiar with restricted views as a pillar caused him to miss the goal that secured Doncaster Rovers’ promotion from League 1 - a last minute winner away at Brentford’s Griffin Park.
"I agree that it’s a problem across all the leagues and sympathise with fans who’ve endured it," Martin said.
"A bad view can ruin your matchday, sometimes they’re unavoidable but I’d like to see clubs doing more to lessen the impact.
"When you’re buying your tickets there’s no reason, especially with online booking, for them not to show you the view from the restricted view seats. If supporters know what they’re in for, I reckon it’ll made it better for everyone.
"I’d like to see bigger discounts for the poorer views. Two or three pounds knocked off isn’t enough – something in the regon of 20%-25% would be much fairer."
We're as fond of the traditional grounds as any other football fan and we sympathise with the clubs in this respect. How can you deal with such inherent problems in old grounds?
A few ideas to lessen the impact of restricted views:
- Restricted view seats should be advertised much more clearly, with the nature of the restriction explained in full/shown in an image. This would help supporters be more informed.
- Fairer discounts for severely restricted views. Presently, discounts on restricted view tickets are meagre with £2-£3 being knocked off the full price. More substantial discounts are needed.
- Clear definition of what constitutes a restricted view. Many supporters are unaware that the "official" definition of a restricted view only means obstruction of either goalmouth. Can't see any of the midfield battle? Some clubs won't consider that a restricted seat.
What can supporters do?
We'd encourage supporters to keep sharing their restricted views on social media, copying the club's accounts in as well as @The_FSF. If you're not on social media send your example to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can still share it.
Most of the examples we saw last season were from top-flight clubs, but the problem exists throughout the leagues, so we'd be especially interested to hear from more fans lower down the pyramid too.
In addition speak to the Supporter Liaison Officer at the relevant club and copy in your own SLO - all those contacts are here. If your experience was especially poor and you feel there are grounds for complaint that should be directed to the club and, if you aren't happy with their response, the Independent Football Ombudsman. You can also copy the FSF into correspondence with the IFO or any club SLO.
Thanks to Stephen O'Donnell for the image used in this blog.