Saturday’s Blue Square Premier game between Mansfield Town and Gateshead was a fixture that, with the best will in the world, might normally have passed unnoticed by most.
However the Stags’ decision to allow supporters to pay whatever admission they liked, as the FSF reported last week, guaranteed a lot more interest than normal.
While a standard adult ticket at Field Mill comes in around the £16 mark fans on Saturday paid anything from a tight-fisted 3p to a prawn sandwich-tastic £50.
Crucially the club’s gate also doubled with more than 7,000 fans packing into the ground; the idea being that all these extra bodies buy extra pies and pints upping the clubs match day taking substantially.
A bit of mental arithmetic suggests the Stags should come out of this with extra money in their pocket. While the club’s average gate was around 3,100 before Saturday’s game – it’s slightly higher now – 2,747 of those are season ticket holders. This means only 300-400 paying fans at most matches, including any away supporter.
Four hundred fans at £16 each comes in at £6,400 (and we admit we had to use a calculator there!) which is a significant amount for a club of Mansfield’s size but not breathtakingly huge. In reality the Stags will take less than that again though as concessionary rates are available and under 13’s get in for free with a full price adult ticket.
It means that the extra 4,000 fans who decided to head into Field Mill only needed to pay £1.60 each on entering the ground and they’d already covered the normal match day taking. That’s before taking into account all the extra food and drink sold too.
Although there were issues with season ticket holders finding their usual seats taken the day was hailed a resounding success by the club's leadership. Not withstanding the game itself which Gateshead won 2-0.
“The response from the people of Mansfield blew our minds. We've had some excellent e-mails from supporters who will still come back despite the result,” said chairman Andrew Perry.
“We will look to do it again - I have no doubt about that, but it will be next season. We may well even tell supporters which game we will apply it to when the fixtures come out ahead of next season.”
As most of Mansfield’s income still comes from season ticket sales we don’t imagine this is a scheme that fans would, could or should expect every week but hats off to the Stags for some innovative thinking.
If it brings in extra money on the day and new fans in the long term it’s obviously a winner.
It’s also another example of lower and non-league clubs putting original ideas into practice, see Northampton Town and FC United of Manchester for more of that. If you know of any other unique schemes at your club, or any other, email the FSF as we’d be interested to hear from you too.
Here at the FSF we’re pretty used to supporters complaining about the price of their match ticket, it’s a common and understandable complaint. So the idea that a fan has a total free reign to set their own admission price is, as far as we’re aware, a first in England or Wales.
And if we get any fans complaining about how much it cost them to get into Field Mill on Saturday at least we know they only have themselves to blame!*
*Excluding season ticket holders who had already purchased their ticket in advance, of course, before any pedants correct us!