23,416 was the declared attendance for the match against Hull but that is pretty disappointing for the first home game of the season against fairly local opposition. Apparently there was a boycott from the Hull fans who balked at paying £39 for a ticket. I think the cheapest ticket for an adult SWFC fan was also £39 for today, assuming you didn’t pay the £50/£90 for one of the membership packages. 23,416. This is over 2,000 less than last season when our first home match was against London opposition, and roughly 2,000 less than when we played against Hull at home last season. The season before last, our opening home game was on Sky and still brought in over 30,000 fans. Something is wrong here.
The prices are horrendous. Sheffield is a big city but hardly boasts the same economy as London, Manchester, Liverpool or even Leeds (see the image taken from Wikipedia below). Despite this, our ticket prices are incredibly high. The average salary in Sheffield is, according to some quick google-fu, around £22,500. The average salary in London is roughly £35,000.
So, the cheapest ticket for an adult against Hull was £39 for a non-member. I just checked out Q.P.R. who our cross city rivals beat today (a good win, it pains me to say), and what their prices are for the Wigan match at Loftus Road on Saturday 25th August. I checked two different stands and for an adult the ticket is £33. Now, I know I could spend ages looking at the different pricing categories and whatnot, but this is just a quick exercise that I’m completing as I type.
The Q.P.R. tickets are roughly 15% cheaper than ours despite income in Sheffield coming in at roughly 64% of that in London. It does not make any sort of sense. I’ve heard time and time again that the golden rule of retail is to know your customer. Football is not the same as retail, but when your club states openly that if you want to see top football you have to pay top prices, then it is the club that brings the value-for-money discussion out in to the open.
Pay on the gate prices for Sheffield Wednesday's Kop for the match against Hull.
I haven’t renewed my season ticket for this season which is a shame. I felt a little anxious this afternoon with not going to the game. I liked my Saturday afternoon routine, even though I was going to the match on my own with my previous match buddies all having stopped over the years. I would grab a coffee and walk to Hillsborough listening to a podcast or audiobook. I’d sit with the guys around me and exchange a few words here and there and then post-match walk back home listening to Praise or Grumble. It was the time I had to myself, because I prefer my own company at times. The football was almost secondary in some respects.
It’s not just myself that has not renewed. Several people I work with have also not renewed and there are several posters from Owlstalk who have also not renewed. I was in the office last week and sat with a guy who also had a season ticket last season and did not renew. I asked if he was going this weekend and he just gave a short laugh and replied “not at those prices”. That’s the thing, in a city like Sheffield the pay-on-the-gate prices are going to ruin this club.
Let’s assume for a moment that the average attendance this season falls by 2,000 per match and those are all POTG fans. Assuming the ratio is one adult to one child (probably nowhere near that, but let’s be conservative) then we will be losing £1,127,000 in gate receipts over the season, not to mention the extra revenue for match programmes and Megastore sales.
There is another reason why the POTG prices are a disgrace. It’s about the investment in the future fans and getting them into the club. To use a retail term, tickets for kids should be “loss-leaders”. I would suggest something radical here, if an adult ticket is £39 and an Under 11 ticket is £10, why not offer a dual ticket for an adult and Under 11 for £39. Encourage people to bring their kids. There are many people who work lots of Saturdays and cannot justify a season ticket, nor can they justify a membership as you have to attend a lot of games for it to be worth it. There will be a substantial number of parents in Sheffield with kids who want to go to the match. These parents may get the opportunity to take their kids to only a handful of games a season. But when they look at the prices, it becomes a non-starter. Two adults and two children for tickets and the associated transport, food and drink costs comes to well over a £100. My first game was in 1990. On the Kop it cost £5 for my Uncle and £2.50 for me, if I remember correctly. £5 to £39; a 680% increase.
In other football news, CS Sportul Snagov earned a 2-0 home win in their first game back at Snagov. For a few months the club had been forced to play their fixtures away from their home stadium due to the pitch being replaced. This makes a win and a draw from their first two fixtures. Next week Snagov make the short trip to the nation’s capital to play Daco-Getica București, formerly known as Juventus București. However, in the last year they were forced to change name under pressure from the Italian giants of the same name. This will be a tough match for Snagov as DG București were relegated from Liga 1 last season.
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Critic. Writer. Thinker. Observer. Creator of nowwelive.com.