Newcastle United have joined forces with Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion in a groundbreaking “reciprocal pricing agreement” – and other clubs are invited to join in and help make away days more affordable.
(Update: Since this story was published the FSF has found out that Hull City and Swansea City announced another reciprocal pricing deal set at £20/£5 concessions. Reports indicate Crystal Palace and Newcastle United have agreed to knock £5 off away ticket prices for the clubs' fixtures. Well done to all concerned, the more clubs on board the better.)
The deal means supporters of the Swans and Baggies will receive reduced ticket prices for their visits to St James’ Park. In return United fans will be offered cheaper tickets for their trips to the Liberty Stadium and the Hawthorns.
Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion have agreed away ticket prices of just £15 for adults (£5 concessions) for their Premier League fixtures during the 2013/14 season. The sides meet at St. James’ Park in November and the Hawthorns on New Year’s Day 2014.
Newcastle United and Swansea City have also agreed to a reciprocal deal which will see away fans receive £20 tickets (£5 concessions) for the games in December 2013 and April 2014. This is a fine reward for loyal fans making the Premier League’s longest journey – a whopping 719 mile roundtrip.
The Magpies say fans of their club travelling to both games will save £44. Hawthorns away tickets cost United fans £39 last season while Swansea City charged £35 for entry to the Liberty Stadium. Albion fans will save £11 on last season’s St James’ Park prices while Swansea fans save £10.
Twenty’s Plenty for Away Tickets
In January 2013 the FSF launched Twenty’s Plenty for Away Tickets following fans’ meetings in Manchester and London. Twenty’s Plenty argued that clubs should reward the loyalty of travelling fans with reciprocal £20 ticket deals.
The campaign was warmly welcomed by fans and this news from Newcastle United shows that the FSF’s arguments hit the target – loyal fans deserve cheaper tickets, there’s a business case for it, and clubs can be persuaded to listen.
Kevin Miles, Chief Executive of the FSF, “We’re delighted to welcome the announcement by Newcastle United of their offer of a reciprocal pricing agreement for tickets for away fans at Premier League fixtures.
“This is a significant breakthrough in turning the concept of affordable prices for away fans into a reality, and Newcastle United, West Bromwich Albion and Swansea City are to be commended for taking a lead in this area.
“We would urge all other Premier League clubs to follow the lead of these clubs, both by taking up this offer and by extending similar arrangements to other fixtures too.”
Newcastle: Top-flight football too expensive
John Irving, Finance Director at Newcastle United, said: “Newcastle United plays a hugely important role in the lives of supporters and in the community which surrounds it so keeping football affordable continues to be a key priority for us.
“Ticket prices are too expensive generally across the Premier League and we believe the right way to encourage people to attend, and to therefore fill stadiums as the Away Fans Fund intends, is to look at charging reasonable prices.”
The Premier League recently launched the Away Fans Fund to reverse falling away attendances, with all 20 top flight clubs now ring-fencing £200,000 each per season over the next three seasons to assist away supporters.
John added: “While we respect the right of clubs to choose options which suit their individual circumstances, we believe there is room for clubs to work more closely to try to charge a fair amount rather than discounting very small amounts on match tickets in isolation.
“We are delighted to have reached an agreement with two of the first clubs we spoke to - West Bromwich Albion and Swansea City - and we applaud them for taking part. As prices indicated last season, fans of some clubs continue to pay far more than those of others and we hope this initiative will lead to a fairer system which can ultimately benefit all supporters.”
New PL ticket policy
As well as its work on pricing, Newcastle United also lobbied the Premier League for the abolition of the prohibitive “sale only/sale or return” method of selling away tickets, which the Premier League duly ended in summer 2013 as part of efforts to halt a decline in away attendances.
Under the system, which Newcastle United refused to impose on clubs visiting St. James’ Park, away clubs received either a smaller allocation of tickets from home clubs, from which unsold tickets could be returned without charge.
The alternative was a larger allocation which had to be paid for in advance. The financial burden of unsold tickets subsequently fell on the away club, leading many to continually choose lower allocations - and fewer tickets for fans - to lessen the financial risk.
Under the new agreement made between Premier League clubs in the close season, officials are now working closer to ensure visiting teams can “service demand” without financial penalty if unsold away tickets are reallocated to home fans.