To say pricing is a contentious issue with Sheffield Wednesday fans would be an understatement. The pricing of everything from single match tickets, to season tickets to the replica shirts has created a divide amongst the fans which has stirred passions on both sides of that divide.
Some fans claim that higher prices are a necessary evil to allow us to compete at the top of the division, where other fans argue we are a working class people who are being priced out of the club we love. There is no clear right and wrong here. Money in football is crazy now, and it does leave a slightly bitter taste when you see just how much some players earn. I have seen payslips for players playing in the English Football League and even “average” players command very respectable salaries.
The focus of this blog is not to bemoan wages in football though. I am looking at investment; primarily investment at Sheffield Wednesday. Now before you assume that this is just another article about us needing extra investment into the club, I would like to assure you it is not. This, instead, is an article about how the club can invest in the future of Sheffield Wednesday. It is also going to argue how higher pricing now is a dangerous strategy for long-term growth and is very much a short-term plan aimed, and dependent, on promotion.
We can debate all day long about what a football club is. What is Sheffield Wednesday? Is it the stadium? Players? Chairman? Or is it the fans? To an extent, it is all of these things, but as the stadium, players and chairman all change, the fans are the one constant. It is the fans that carry the soul and history of the club through time, from one generation to another. Supporting a football club means you are part of a club; you have a shared identity with thousands of other people and that single shared identity might be the only thing you have in common.
Over the last twenty, thirty years or so since football became increasingly available on television I would argue that kids now are more likely to be attracted to the high profile Premier League or European leagues, than their local club which might be a second or even third tier club. For a club like ours, we have had little to cheer over the past two decades. We have had two promotions from League One, but those were mostly with relief that our time in that division was over. It was a case of getting back on track rather than over-achieving. In the grand scheme of things, most sensible football fans would agree that League One is not where Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds, Sunderland or Manchester City should be. We’ve all been there in the past couple of decades though. This is where the difference between the club and the team is important. Your team can be League One quality at the same time your club is Premier League quality, but I digress.
With football becoming increasingly available, kids now can watch teams like Real Madrid, Barcelona or Juventus on a weekly basis. They can go into a shop in the city centre and buy a replica kit for those clubs. In Sheffield, this past week, I saw two kids wearing Wednesday shirts near my Gran’s house. I saw a kid in a Blades shirt, and I’m waiting to hear back from social services about that, and I saw two kids, days apart, in full Barcelona kits. In 2018 it is often easier to buy a Barcelona shirt than a local club’s shirt in the city centre or in the shopping malls.
My fear is that over time, we will lose the passionate fans as generations come and go. With the current pricing at Hillsborough, my worry is that many parents can no longer afford to take their kids to the game. When I started going to the match with my Dad in 1990, it cost £7.50 between us; £5 adult and £2.50 for me. Using the Bank of England inflation calculator, £5 in 1990 is the equivalent of £10.80 today. However, a standard ticket on the Kop for our next home match is £36 for an adult. My £2.50 ticket would be the equivalent of £5.40 now, but a child of my (then) age would have to pay £10 now. If it is no longer possible to take kids to the game on a semi-regular basis, then it is much harder to build the connection between the club and the young supporter. Is it any wonder that a young kid in Sheffield feels more connected to Manchester City, who he may watch on television fifteen times or more a season, than Sheffield Wednesday who he might see once or twice?
I wonder how much money we actually make from shirt sales and other merchandise. It seems that we are approaching it from the perspective of putting the price way up and hoping that the hard-core fans will still buy it. This will work to a degree, but it’s rather short-sighted in my opinion. When someone wears a Sheffield Wednesday shirt, they are not just declaring their support for the club, they are advertising the brand and the club. The fan is paying the club to advertise on their behalf. So rather than creating a product (shirt) that only the wealthy can buy, why are we not approaching this from the angle of getting as many shirts sold as possible?
Just two examples from message boards about how pricing is alienating the next generation.
In retail there is a term; loss-leader. This is a product which is sold at a loss to attract customers to the store. For example, a supermarket may sell a popular item like alcohol at a loss to entice customers to do their weekly shop at that store. I’m not suggesting we sell shirts at a loss, but that we maybe rethink the pricing so that rather than shirts being a luxury purchase they are a standard purchase. Maybe even offer a free junior shirt with each adult shirt sold. The advantage here is that you are helping to promote the Sheffield Wednesday brand and cementing our identity with the next generation of fans.
Is a young football fan more or less likely to feel a connection with their local club if they have the current shirt? I’m enough of a realist to know we are not likely to see a drastic change in match ticket pricing. I would hope we could see a more considered approach to pricing of merchandise though. My point is that we should not view merchandise sales as a way to get money into the club now. We should also see it as an investment, where the club potentially loses money (or takes a hit on how much they make) to invest in creating a new generation of fans in the long-term. The major issue with this approach is that many owners and chairman are not going to be around for longer than just a few years, and as such are not too concerned with investing for the long-term good of the club they own. In general, I think you see three types of owners in football. There is the wealthy fan who buys their club and pumps money into it. There is the mega-rich owner who buys a club to play with. The final type of owner is the one who wants to buy and then sell for a profit. There is nothing wrong with any of these approaches, but the problem with the last type of owner is that their investment tends to be more short-term; buy players, get promoted and then sell for a profit.
The availability of football on television, and the insane prices charged to attend matches now, means that we are in real danger of alienating the next generation of fans. We are in an age where top quality football can be watched online for little or no cost. Those who read my blog regularly will know I follow a Romanian Second Division club, CS Sportul Snagov. I can watch their games back on Facebook, or through online betting sites I have an account with. If I want, I can watch games from over a dozen leagues for free through these accounts.
Our current pricing strategy is designed to get people to buy a season ticket. It has worked to a degree with more people in recent years buying season tickets. I wonder how much of that increase in the number of season ticket holders was down to pricing and how much was down to our relative success since Mr Chansiri bought the club. We were told to pay more for top quality football. The first season under Carlos saw good football and a play-off final. The next season saw decent football, for the most part, and a play-off semi-final. Then last season we saw abysmal football and a brief flirtation with a relegation scrap. The prices did not come down though. Our average attendance dropped by over a thousand from 2016/2017 to 2017/2018.
I’ve seen posts on social media where long-time fans of the club are saying they are done with attending games now. Some fans will respond by calling these dejected fans “flouncers” or “part-time fans” or simply claiming they are not “real fans”. The thing is, everyone has a breaking point. We have had worse times than this, obviously. Sometimes it can be the small things that push someone past breaking point. If we have a pricing structure that is turning long-time fans away and preventing new fans from being created, then this is not good for the long-term health of the club. It’s admirable that there are fans out there that will pay any price to see Sheffield Wednesday play, but the number of those fans is reducing. You don’t know your own breaking point until you reach it.
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It’s that time of the year again, when conversation turns to the apparent devaluation of the Football League Cup. It seems as though this discussion has been coming up this time of year for over a decade now. I remember when Arsenal made a big deal of playing their younger players in the League Cup and how some people saw that as disrespectful. I’m rather ambivalent about the League Cup. On one hand, I would like to see it treated with a bit more respect. On the other hand, I can understand why most football clubs treat it as an afterthought.
In the modern game, I think there are too many games played. I’m not going to ramble on at length about how back in the day players would play three times a week on muddy fields kicking a ball that weighed three stone. The fact is, the game has evolved and the athleticism involved now means it is difficult for players to perform at their peak for forty, sometimes fifty-plus games a season. Squad rotation is a major part of football now and the League Cup is seen as the poor relation compared to the F.A. Cup and the normal league campaign.
So, do the major clubs actually treat the League Cup as an afterthought?
Since Sheffield Wednesday beat Manchester United in 1991, there have been twenty-seven League Cup finals.
Since 1991, by my count, there have been twelve different winners.
Manchester United (five)
Manchester City (three)
Aston Villa (two)
Assuming I have my Sheffield Wednesday knowledge up to date, we are the last club to win the League Cup from outside the top division, in 1991. So for all the talk of the competition being “devalued”, it has been won by a top flight team every season for almost three decades. Out of the previous twenty-seven finals, nineteen have been won by those clubs typically expected to challenge for the top-four Premier League places; Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs.
Is it just a case of all clubs devaluing the League Cup and those clubs with the most strength in depth having more success? Possibly. It is sad to see the cup thought of in such a way. The question is how to make the cup more attractive; how to make it more exciting. I have a few ideas, some of which are pure fantasy, and possibly border on the absurd. Others, I think, are more grounded in reality and may help shake things up in a positive way.
Make it purely a League Cup
Make the League Cup a competition for clubs in the Championship, League One and League Two only. The early rounds of the Cup would be regionalised and played before the normal League season starts. This would also replace the EFL Trophy.
The Premier League clubs would no longer have to compete, meaning the top-six clubs would not be distracted from fighting for the top four places and the other fourteen clubs can continue to fight to avoid relegation.
With only one domestic Cup competition open to these clubs, the F.A. Cup may regain some of its’ prestige as well.
The League Cup would no longer be available as a consolation prize to Premier League Clubs who fail to win the Premier League or the F.A. Cup.
Football League clubs will no longer get the chance to be drawn against a Premier League team’s reserves in the early rounds of the League Cup.
There is also the question of the prize. It’s no longer sufficient for clubs to win a competition just for the prestige. There has to be some tangible reward. I doubt that the powers-that-be would sign off giving a European place to the winners of a Cup that only second-tier clubs can win.
A substantial cash prize would be an idea, but the money has to come from somewhere and no major sponsor would throw money at a competition that the Manchester clubs or Chelsea, Spurs or Liverpool are not entering.
Another, out of the box, idea would be to give the winners of the League Cup a points bonus in the division they are in for that season. I’m not in favour of this idea as it would tinker with the League format too much. Although there would be some novelty and amusement in seeing the League Cup winners clinch the last play-off spot due to a points bonus for winning the Cup.
Overall, without the star power of the Premier League or the tangible reward of a European place the League Cup does not have much appeal when compared with the match-to-match slog of the regular League.
Idea Rating: Poor
Create a joint Anglo-Scottish League Cup
At present the only way English and Scottish clubs can meet is in Europe. If a joint League Cup was created it would be interesting and novel. The new Anglo-Scottish Cup would have to be regionalised at first in the early rounds. With absolutely no disrespect intended, no one wants to see Yeovil travel to Elgin midweek for a Cup game. However, as the rounds progress we could see fixtures such as Hibs v Preston, Hearts v Sheffield Wednesday, Rangers v Spurs, Celtic v Manchester City. All fixtures that are fresh, new and exciting for the fans of those clubs.
The prestige of winning a Cup that is open to both England and Scotland would be great for a club’s reputation. If the format was correctly thought out, with early rounds being regionalised, it would spur teams on to get to the later rounds when the two countries get drawn against each other.
There would likely be huge sponsorship interest which would create a large pot of money. This could be filtered down through the leagues. In my, somewhat hopeful world, the bigger clubs would agree to share the money much more generously with the lower league clubs in Scotland and England.
Logistically, this could be problematic but that is an issue that can be worked through. This would replace the Scottish League Cup and English League Cup. The question remains over what happens to the “spare” European qualification place.
Although this would be a great idea for many clubs, I can see why some clubs would rather not do it. As things stand, Celtic have a virtual monopoly on Scottish football. If this went ahead, they are much less likely to win the League Cup. However, if marketed right it could be a huge money spinner for them to host Manchester United, for example, at home in the later stages of a domestic knock-out competition.
Overall, I think this idea could gather momentum if the Scottish and English powers-that-be were agreeable.
Idea Rating: Good, but unlikely to happen.
Formalise the Youth Team/Squad Rotation element
As many clubs change their starting line-up for the early rounds of the League Cup, formalise the arrangement and enforce it. Make it a requirement that any player picked for the League Cup cannot play in the League fixture immediately before or after the League Cup match. Also, an age cap could be brought in whereby the average age of the match day squad has to be below a certain threshold (but this might be a step too far, and too complex to enforce).
Youth and fringe players have a lifeline to get some first team football and maybe put themselves in the shop window for future League fixtures or transfers. Fans would get to see players they don’t normally see. Matches would be unpredictable.
Major issues with accusations of match fixing. Let’s say that Sheffield Wednesday are in the semi-final of the League Cup against Arsenal. The match before the Arsenal game we play Reading who are battling relegation. We drop Forestieri, Bannan and Reach for the Reading game and get beat. We play Arsenal and lose. Then we can’t play those three players when we play Aston Villa who need a win to overtake Sheffield United in the play-offs. We travel to Villa and lose. The whole League picture could change if clubs start dropping star players to make them available for the later stages of the League Cup.
Making the Cup a Youth/Fringe player only competition just formalises the status as a second-rate competition. Sponsors would be difficult to attract and once the novelty wore off, and it would pretty quickly, the competition would probably end up being cancelled or rebooted in some other format.
Overall, a very poor idea.
Idea Rating: Terrible.
Create a League Cup Spectacle
Pre-season, all clubs in the Premiership, Championship, League One and League Two are placed in a draw in to twenty-three groups of four. Twenty groups will have one Premiership, Championship, League One and League Two side. Three groups will have a mix of the twelve remaining Championship, League One and Two clubs.
The clubs in each group play each other once in typical group format. This would be done Friday, Monday and Thursday prior to the start of the season. The top club from each group would progress as would the nine best second place clubs.
Later in the season, when there is another break in the League season, the remaining thirty-two clubs would play the round of thirty-two on a Friday, the round of sixteen on the Monday and the quarter-finals on the Thursday.
The semi-finals and final would be played as normal in the later stages of the season.
It’s always exciting to see football played in an intense format where the matches come thick and fast. This format would ensure that the lower league clubs get a chance to play the big clubs each season. It would create some interesting match ups and create a summer competition before the “proper” season starts.
The competition could even be done in such a way so that the twenty Premier League sides and the three relegated sides in the Championship could act as “hosts” for the competition with games being played exclusively at their ground.
Some clubs would not take kindly to losing the chance for money-spinning pre-season games in Asia and the US.
This would be a logistical nightmare and create a real headache for the fixture planners.
It would not reduce the number of games and could result in the competition becoming even more of an irrelevance.
It would reduce the chances of a League One or Two club getting a favourable Cup run through fortunate draws.
Overall, too much of a head ache to be realistic.
Idea Rating: Pretty damn poor.
Do you have any suggestions for improving the League Cup? Let me know in the comments. If you enjoy reading Now We Live, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Also, if you would like to contribute to Now We Live please refer to our submissions page.
A Sheffield-Snagov double this weekend, with The Owls earning a scrappy win against Ipswich and Snagov taking their third win in the opening four games to go top of the Liga II table. Overall, a good weekend for Sheffield football with the red and white third of Sheffield getting a good win at Bolton.
It’s difficult to judge where Sheffield Wednesday are at the moment. We’ve had some really poor performances but since Chansiri bought the club this is our best start to a season after five league games. With all the doom and gloom around the club, we would do well to remember this and give Jos Luhukay some credit. Since coming to the club he has worked with a squad of unfit and injured players and guided them to some very good results. As I mentioned in a previous blog, in our last ten games of last season we had automatic promotion form. This season, Luhukay is blending youth with experience and still getting a respectable points haul, despite a couple of poor individual results.
Looking ahead to September, I think this month will really set the tone for the season. We will know what our squad will be until the January transfer window and we have a run of fixtures against clubs with different objectives for the reason. This will give us a more accurate idea of what our, realistic, expectations should be.
SWFC September Fixtures
01/09/2018 Reading (away)
15/09/2018 Stoke (home)
19/09/2018 Forest (away)
22/09/2018 Villa (away)
28/09/2018 Leeds (home – on a Friday night, in a spectacularly stupid decision)
It’s going to be a tough run-in and I can’t help but think that Reading is a vital game, even this early in the season. With Reading already looking like they will be fighting relegation, we need to put them to the sword. If our season takes and turn for the worse and we find ourselves battling Reading for survival, three points taken from them now could be huge by the time April and May come around.
Stoke are a bit of an unknown quantity at the moment. Forest and Leeds are going to be very tough and I’d snatch your hands off for two points from those games now. As for Villa, I personally think we’ll be up for that game following the disgusting refereeing performance at Hillsborough last season. Referees have a tough job to do but having watched hundreds of games at Hillsborough since my first match in 1990 I have not seen anything quite like the Villa match last season.
As an absolute minimum we need to be taking five points from those five games to keep our heads just above the waters of relegation. Apparently our aim is promotion this season. Anything less than nine points and that’s a non-starter, in my opinion (which is that promotion is not going to happen without several players joining the club). We still need pace. We still need a top central defender. We still need a midfield monster. We’ve needed these players since Wembley a few years ago.
CS Sportul Snagov – September Preview
On the 1st of September Snagov travel to Brăila to play ACS Dacia Unirea Brăila, who are yet to win this season. I’ve not travelled to that side of Romania on any of my visits, but I hear it’s a nice part of the country.
The following week Snagov host Ripensia Timişoara which is a place where several family friends come from or still live. Timişoara is a place I want to visit, as well as Cluj and Craiova. A friend of mine is a big Universitatea Craiova fan and was delighted that they won the Romanian Cup last season. Their new stadium is a thing of beauty as well.
On the 15th September Snagov then make the long trip to Timişoara to play ACS Poli Timişoara, before finishing the month against UTA Arad at home and then Academica Clinceni away.
The EFL Championship
It’s already starting to look like a two-horse race for top spot with Leeds and Middlesbrough charging ahead. Although I’m happy to give Jos Luhukay time to make his mark with The Owls, it’s extremely frustrating that we missed the boat with Tony Pulis. I can’t help but wonder how we would have fared last season had we parted company with Carlos earlier in the season and brought Pulis in. His football might not be pretty but it’s pretty damn effective.
I can’t see Bolton fighting for promotion this season and I fully expect Villa to remain roughly where they are; top-six. I think there will be a lot of teams battling for top-six this season. I can see the top half of the table staying fairly close for most of the season with those teams able to string two or three wins together on the spin jumping from mid-table to the play-offs. If we can stay in contention until January, then we might see some more ambition and risk taking in terms of transfers to help push us over the line.
I’m amazed at the start Sheffield United have had, and Derby for that matter. I don’t think Sheffield United have the quality or stamina to maintain a play-off push, and I expect they will drop off over the coming weeks. Derby are a side that always seem to threaten a good season and then go on to disappoint. Frank Lampard will have drawn a lot of attention to the club, but should they disappoint again it will simply highlight that disappointment even more.
At the bottom of the table, I’m not too surprised to see Reading, QPR, Birmingham or Hull in the lower third. Ipswich is a bit surprising and I think they will pull away over the next few weeks. I also think Preston will have enough to not get dragged into a serious relegation battle. There is something thoroughly unlikeable about Birmingham and I would like to see them relegated. I’ve had some bad experiences with Birmingham fans over the years and the way they appointed Zola was absurd. As I’m writing this, Rotherham are on the verge of getting a win against Millwall. Although Rotherham are having a good start relatively speaking, I think it will be a season of struggle for The Millers.
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Retirement seems a long way off but time has a way of passing without you realising. Days can drag as weeks, months and years flash past. I often think about some of the financial mistakes I’ve made in the past and how much further along in my plans I could be now had I learned certain lessons earlier in life. There’s little value in dwelling on the past though. My plan is to be able to give up paid work at the age of fifty which is just over fifteen years away. I may decide to continue working at that point, but the plan calls for me to be able to make that choice on my own terms without being trapped in the “rat race” and having to work for someone else to make ends meet. So far, I’m on track but I’m impatient. I want to have more and I want it now.
I’m signed up to a pretty good pension through my employer but a private pension, and state pension, will not be enough to give me the quality of life I desire in my later life. I want to be comfortable in later life, not having to worry about paying for either food or electricity because I can’t afford both. It seems tragic to me that most people work hard for their best years and then have little left over in retirement. As our society changes and we generally live longer, the strain on the economy is starting to tell. One only has to look at the NHS for proof of this. I’m not convinced that the same level of welfare will be available to people in my generation when they get to their retirement, as is available to those currently in their retirement. Something will have to give at some point.
In my experience, most people do not really understand how pensions work. I’m not an expert either, but I think I have a better understanding than the average person. The same people who think that pensions are “safe” tend to think that the stock market is “risky”. These people will be surprised to learn that many pension schemes are actually linked in large part to the performance of the stock market, with pension contributions used to purchase units in trusts or funds that are invested in various stocks. The two, pensions and the stock market, are so closely linked that to say one is “safe” and the other is “risky” is just a completely absurd statement to make. The only risk here is not having a full understanding of what your retirement plan is or how it will be achieved.
Will you want time in the sun after retiring? You'll need more than just a basic pension.
In FU Money, Dan Lok talks about your “number” which is the amount of money at which you will have the life you want. I can’t remember the specific items on Dan Lok’s list, but he details all the different things he spends his money on and arrives at an annual figure. I think Dan’s figure was in the region of $600,000 per year, but I’m ready to be corrected on that. Not everyone will have the same figure. Some people will have more modest desires and they could be happy with £12,000 per year, assuming they have no costs for housing. The point is to have a figure and an idea of what life you want. Make a list of all your different financial commitments and what they cost. Use that as the basis for your figure for retirement. The earlier in life you think about this, the better your chances are of achieving it. I have a figure in mind that will see me live a comfortable life when I hit fifty. I’m not going to talk about my figure specifically as it is private to me, but I will talk about my strategy for reaching that figure.
I made a decision when planning my retirement to ignore inflation in an active sense. If I was to factor inflation into my planning I would drive myself insane looking at spreadsheets and calculations. My somewhat simplistic approach is to assume that my cost of living in fifteen years will increase in line with inflation, but the value of my investments will also increase roughly in line with inflation and perhaps even outpace inflation. If we are looking at annual inflation of roughly 2%-3%, then so long as the value of my investments increase by more than this, I am doing well. Generally, the stock market will have peaks and troughs but over an extended period it will return anything from 3%-8% and sometimes more. Most cash savings accounts offer a derisory return of under 1%.
I have three main areas that I invest in; property, stocks and bonds. The primary goal is to generate passive income; income that is generated for me without any work needed from me.
I’ve spoken before about how I don’t think Buy-To-Let is a good idea for most people. I invest in property through crowd funding, which are generally large apartment blocks or student accommodation. I buy shares in these properties and earn rental income as dividends. Each month I roll up my dividend and reinvest that money into more shares in those properties, as well as using some of my earned income to buy additional shares. At present, I’m getting a 5% return on this investment. Rather than my return depending on just one or two dwellings, my investment is spread across dozens of different dwellings which reduces the risk to my investment.
I also invest in the stock market. I have shares in five different UK companies. I chose each stock after careful consideration and research. A good starting point for anyone looking to understand the stock market is the book Shares Made Simple, which I have linked below:
One requirement I had was for the stocks to have a stable dividend record. I now receive a dividend ten months of the year from my portfolio of stocks. Again, each dividend is rolled back up into the overall investment. There are lots of different platforms for buying and selling shares. For those investing modest amounts, there are platforms that offer a certain number of commission free trades per month, such as Trading212. I don’t personally like Trading212. I find the interface complicated and difficult to navigate. Some people swear by it though. There are other platforms that offer various levels of commission to buy and sell shares on an ad hoc basis, with smaller fees charged for regular investments where you invest a certain amount each month.
I use a service from a high street bank that is simple to use and charges a very low commission for regular investments. If I want to sell my shares, the commission is higher but I have no intention of selling these shares. My dividends are paid directly into my bank account and then I either use them to purchase more shares, or I direct that dividend to a different investment.
With interest rates being so low for regular savings, I choose to keep my cash in Premium Bonds. I know this will not make sense to some people as Premium Bonds do not generate a return as such, but rather pay out monthly prizes. My reasoning is that a typical cash savings account will generate just a few pounds for each thousand deposited. This is not really of any value. It’s a good idea to have some money that is fairly liquid and Premium Bonds offer that. I can sell the bonds and have the money in my account within a couple of weeks. For any major emergency I have a decent credit limit that I can use whilst those bonds are being sold. It’s difficult to envisage a situation where I need to pay for something that cannot be paid for by credit card until those funds are free. There is also the possibility that the bonds will win a big prize. To me, there is more value in a potential big prize than a definite insignificant return.
Education is the key to understanding the stock market.
I’m approaching a point at which I need to spread my wings and look at foreign investments. I don’t feel comfortable keeping all my eggs in the UK basket, especially with Brexit looming on the horizon (something I’m still not convinced will actually happen, but that’s a different subject). I think the next part of my financial education will be looking at how to invest in foreign markets without paying lots of commission. Whether or not Brexit actually happens, I don’t think we will see major capital gains in the UK stock market for a few years. I’m also concerned about investing in the US as I see their political situation as a powder keg ready to explode at any moment. Perhaps something in Europe or the Far East could be an idea, but I definitely need to do my research.
The only risk with investing is not doing the research. Investing without research is gambling. You might win, but you’ll probably lose. One of the best bits of advice I have discovered is that in any investment opportunity there is a winner and a loser. If you don’t understand the investment, then you are probably the loser and someone else is making money at your expense. There are two areas of a person’s financial life that should receive a lot of personal attention; your mortgage and your retirement. In my experience, these are the two things that people ignore or only give a small amount of attention to every so often. As some of you will know, I’m a mortgage advisor and I speak to people about mortgages for over thirty hours a week. It never ceases to amaze me how many people will base their decision, not on qualified advice, but rather the opinion of a friend or family member with no qualification or experience in the field.
Take control of your financial future. It does not cost much to learn, especially in the internet age where there is a vast library of information available for free. There really is no excuse for ignorance in 2018. I’ve included some links to some books that I have found useful in improving my financial education. I hope you will find them just as useful.
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I don’t think anyone, other than the most optimistic supporter, thought we would win against Millwall in midweek. I must admit that once I saw the starting line up, I was sure we would get hammered. It was a very happy surprise to see us win and a great feeling to see us win with a team with several academy players starting. There was also the positive news that Lucas Joao has signed a contract extension. I have been critical of Joao in the past but last season he seemed to grow as a player and his contribution, alongside Nuhiu was vital in steering us clear of a relegation scrap.
Today we play Ipswich who are managed by Paul Hurst, who I believe supports The Owls and will want to get a win against us. Ipswich are a team I always feel uneasy about us playing as they tend to be a team we don’t do well against. Last season we drew at Ipswich and lost at home. The season before we lost at home and earned a win away, and the season prior to that we lost away and drew at home. In the last six meetings we have picked up five points. It’s not a great return against a team that, on paper, are no better than an average Championship side.
I hope that we approach today with the same mix of youth and experience. I am excited at seeing how Matt Penney fares with a run in the first team. His left foot seems to create some wonder goals; check out the YouTube video below:
Following the Brentford defeat, there was some talk of Bannan being unhappy with our manager and I was worried that we might not see the best of Barry Bannan but he produced a fantastic goal against Millwall midweek that must surely be a contender for an award. It’s good to see Bannan get a goal as I feel it’s a part of his game that could improve and as a club we really need our midfielders to contribute more goals. Last season, our highest scoring midfielder (Adam Reach) managed four league goals.
CS Sportul Snagov continue their Liga II campaign tomorrow morning when they entertain SSC Farul Constanta. A win tomorrow could see Snagov go top of the division. I will be keeping a close eye on this game as I’ve started to really feel a connection to the club, and it is something that SWFC could really learn from. I follow both clubs on Facebook, but see more updates from the small Romanian club than I do from The Owls. These updates are not anything ground breaking but just brief updates and messages from the players and backroom staff urging fans to come and attend the game. Not every message from the club needs to be an essay or lecture, but just a simple message reminding people that the club exists and an appeal from player to fan could be an effective way of encouraging fans to attend games.
Put it this way, if you were a SWFC fan and you were on the fence about going to day and you were scrolling through Facebook and you see a post that grabs your attention. It’s a photo of, let’s say, Adam Reach in his tracksuit. He’s stood in the centre circle at an empty Hillsborough and accompanying the picture is a simple message; something along the lines of “When this ground is full, there’s no better place to play. It gives us all that extra fire to play well. Come and be a part of it.” That would be a simple job requiring just a few minutes of time from the SWFC social media team and even if it encourages just a handful of fans to attend, then that’s a win. There’s been matches I’ve been hesitant to go to, but when I’ve seen someone post a video of a good SWFC win or goal it’s made me stand up and go to Hillsborough. Surely, I can’t be alone in this.
I’m hoping that we see some players come into the club in the next few days as I think the squad desperately needs some new ideas and fresh energy. I think the academy players have helped somewhat with this, but the atmosphere at Hillsborough is balanced on a knife edge at the moment. All it would take is a bad spell of football and I fear the atmosphere could turn toxic. We need players who can lead both on and off the pitch. We need strong personalities who can guide our younger players through, what could be, a very difficult season. On a more practical note, we need pace in the team. It’s absurd that we’ve had three seasons to add pace and a midfield beast to the team and have failed to do so. It may be that we still need to let players leave before we can bring anyone in, despite the embargo being lifted.
My prediction today is for a high scoring win for the Owls. I’m thinking maybe 3-2 or 3-1. Maybe this is just fickle optimism following our win midweek, and maybe I’m thinking with my heart instead of my head. Maybe my prediction is based more in hope than logic, but football is an emotional sport and that’s what makes it so addictive.
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I read a story in the Daily Mail/Daily Outrage today that made me think about human rights, and the whole “Political Correctness Gone Mad” argument. A bit of background about the story: There is an all-girls school which has just received a new student. This student is approximately sixteen years old and is in the process of transitioning from male to female. This has apparently caused concern amongst some parents of girls at the school who are worried about having a student, who was born male, sharing a changing room and toilets with their female children. The title of the article is in the screenshot below:
I think we need to remember that the rights of the individual are just as important as the rights of the majority. The moment we start to censor the rights of the individual because it allegedly compromises the rights of the group is the moment we start down a slippery slope towards fascism.
I think this situation is being looked at from the wrong perspective. The arguments in their most basic form seem to be as follows:
Parents of the female children at the school feel their children should have access to same sex changing facilities and toilet facilities. The article explains that, for some parents, the decision to send their girls to an all-girls school was because they wanted their girls to study without the unsavoury attention of boys. I suppose many of these parents do not acknowledge the very real possibility that their child may be attracted to other females and not males. For some parents, the decision comes from religious beliefs.
The parents of the child who is transitioning from male to female, I’m assuming, want their child to have the best chance of getting a good education, academically and socially. It would be unfair to expect this one student to have to change alone and use separate bathroom facilities if the rest of the school uses communal facilities.
There is an issue with this view, however. It is a False Dichotomy, a classic logical fallacy, which assumes there are simply two choices and that is it.
Society has changed since we started having free access to schools. Academic education used to be reserved for the wealthy, but now it is free and expected that children will attend school in some form until their late teens. As the twentieth century rolled on, homosexuality became more accepted by society and transgender is following suit, albeit slowly. As someone who is male and heterosexual I cannot truly empathise with the struggles that these people are going through. In my younger years, I admit (to my shame) to not being particularly tolerant or understanding. However, I’ve adopted an attitude of “let people be happy”. Obviously, there are limits to this and I’m going to debate the merits of the Golden Rule (treat others as you want to be treated) versus not doing to others as you would not want done to you. I could be here all day debating that philosophical argument. My point is simply that we only get one life and you should, within all reasonable constraints of a civilised society, be able to enjoy your life as you see fit.
I’m not an expert in the terminology and any mistakes I make here are not out of malice, but simple human error and a lack of understanding. I am happy to engage in civil discussion and be corrected on any of the following.
There is a difference between sex (biological), gender (how you identify) and sexuality (who you are attracted to). In years gone by, schools were designed to deal with males who identify as male and are attracted to females, and females who identify as females and are attracted to males. This is, to my understanding, why things such as bathrooms and changing facilities were ordered by the old-school definitions of sex/gender. In 2018, we are generally more accepting and understanding that, for example, someone could be (sex) male (gender) female and be attracted to females. There are no set rules. I’m personally of the view that sexuality is not as binary as some people believe, but yet again that is a different debate.
I would like to think we have come a long way from how schools used to be.
Anyway, coming back to the point at hand. I mentioned a False Dichotomy. Perhaps the issue now is how schools are designed and how most changing facilities and bathrooms lack basic privacy. Perhaps schools should have individual changing cubicles as standard so that children can change in private without worrying about these matters. Perhaps toilets should be single person only. I don’t think this is Political Correctness Gone Mad but rather an acknowledgment that we are changing as a society. We can accommodate the rights of both the pupils at this school and their new classmate. We just have to get out of the adversarial mind-set and accept that there are other options and solutions that benefit all.
I’m not saying that we don’t continue the fight for equality, as there are many minority groups that still experience discrimination. The discussion, in my opinion here, is a wider one focusing on all children’s right to privacy at school when changing or using a bathroom.
To those children and young adults that are struggling with their identity, I have nothing but respect for the strength and courage it takes to open up about those struggles. Although we are a much more accepting society that just a few decades ago, I appreciate it must still be a daunting prospect.
It is my sincere hope that I have not caused any offence with this post. I welcome any reasonable comment and debate. Thanks for reading.
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Is there a single positive aspect to Sheffield Wednesday at the moment?
One point from three league games is just not good enough. On paper we have a good squad but the fact we are not playing Westwood is bizarre. I think Dawson and Wildsmith will go on to have good careers but we need a strong, stable spine to the team. Blooding young players is great when the team is doing well but when the team is struggling, it can be devastating. Young players need confidence; not to be getting beat week after week. Young players need to be led; we don’t have any leadership. We are in trouble.
Brentford was always going to be a difficult game. Dean Smith has done a great job with them and will have loved beating the side he used to play for. I don’t begrudge them the win at all. I’m simply frustrated that we are in such a predicament when just a couple of seasons ago there was so much cause for optimism.
I know Chansiri has spent a lot of money on Wednesday but I do wonder if the money has been spent wisely. I’ve blogged before about the utter failure of our transfer policy in recent years but I also wonder to what extent we have neglected the parts of the club that can take a club and allow it to compete at a level greater than the sum of its parts. I mean no disrespect when I talk about Huddersfield or Burnley and what they have achieved is extraordinary. It seems, from the outside at least, that they have achieved success by investing in scouting and building a secure and stable foundation to the club, rather than just signing players. We have somehow managed to sign a whole squad of players without improving the starting eleven that lost the play-off final a few seasons ago.
Spending money without a plan or direction is basically gambling.
let's keep spinning that wheel....
I’m more worried about the future of the club now than I was when Nick Parker stood on the court steps and pleaded for investors to come forward. At that point in time, I believed the club was still attractive enough to attract investment. I’m not privy to our exact financial situation but the fact we were in an embargo and having listened and read the thoughts of other fans, it does not take a genius to work out our finances must be precarious. This is not about how much money Chansiri has but about how much money we are allowed to spend, or lose, and still remain a participant in the football league. We have spent a relative fortune and gone backwards. How has this been allowed to happen?
I fear for the young players we are bringing through to the first team. It is hardly the best environment for development. The longer we go without a win in the league, the more restless and frustrated the fans will get. These are no longer fans paying a reasonable, going rate for their tickets. These are fans that have been asked to pay a premium. The fans expect football to match the price they are paying.
In football, you do not buy your ticket expecting success or even entertainment. You hope for it. There is an understanding that when you buy your ticket you are supporting the club and anything else is a bonus. However, that dynamic changed in the last couple of seasons. We were told that if we wanted to see quality on the pitch then we would have to pay for it. The dynamic changed between club and fan; we were told that the more we pay, the more success we could expect. We are paying Premier League prices with the very real prospect of a season long struggle against relegation back to League One.
In more positive news, CS Sportul Snagov continued their impressive start to the Liga II season by getting an away win at Daco-Getica București. Snagov took an early lead and finished the game 1-3 winners. After three games of the Liga II season, Snagov sit in 4th place with seven points. I’m looking forward to seeing Snagov play and I’m hopeful it will happen before the end of 2018.
Weight Loss Update
After I finished reading The Obesity Code (link below to the book on Amazon) I made some drastic changes to my diet. I used to graze quite often and would eat little and often. Since reading The Obesity Code, I changed things. I now eat less times per day. I fast for more than half the day, and restrict my eating to a small window of time. I was worried about how I would feel but by almost every measure, I feel better. I have more energy. I feel less bloated. Interestingly, I have less headaches and those who know me well know I suffer from frequent headaches. After one week of eating in this way, I have lost 1.1kg. It will be interesting to see how much more progress I make following the advice in The Obesity Code.
Although I have lost over 20kg since getting serious about my health, I still probably have another 10-15kg still to lose to get back to how I was at my best.
It’s now almost one week since my Grandfather passed away. He was almost eighty-years of age, and would soon have celebrated his sixtieth wedding anniversary with my Gran. I didn’t know my Grandad as well as I would have liked. For much of my childhood he was a quiet man, or at least that was my impression. As I grew older I started to know him better. I discovered he had served in the Royal Navy and had been based in Malta for many years. As I look back, I realise just how hard he had worked. It’s the things you don’t notice as a child but notice as you look back. My Grandad was the hardest working man I have known. Along with my Gran, they raised many children in what must have been a very trying household. Many of those children have gone on to become successful in their own lines of work and more importantly become good people in their own right.
I’m glad I was able to visit Malta on three separate occasions and see my Grandparents there. I’ll treasure the memories of looking over the Grand Harbour in Valetta with my Grandad telling stories of his time in the navy. As he spoke, he had that cloudy expression in his eyes which all people have when they reminisce about happy times. We have not had the cremation yet, but I suspect my Grandad will return to Malta one last time. It seems that it was his wish to return and be reunited with his eldest adult son, my uncle, who passed eight years ago.
Thanks for reading.
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A friend of mine has been messaging me over the last few days asking for advice and information about buying a property to rent out. I’ve done my best to answer his questions, but ended my reply by saying that I don’t think he should go with a buy-to-let (BTL) if he wants to make money. There are other ways for people to make money with less risk and greater return.
Before going any further however, a few points.
First, I am not a qualified financial advisor. What follows is my opinion, rather than advice.
Second, I am a qualified mortgage advisor so I think I have a decent understanding of what it takes to obtain a mortgage.
Third, the following article is aimed at a particular audience. It is not aimed at those who are experienced in property and investing. It is not aimed at those who are wealthy with lots of disposable income and can afford to take risks. It is not aimed at those buying property under the umbrella of a Limited Company.
This article is aimed at those who may not be financially confident or experienced, and who believe that buying a BTL is a safe, guaranteed way to make money.
For the sake of clarity, I will use an example property based on research and experience. This property will be a two-bedroom apartment in Sheffield city centre. The property is on the market for £120,000.
How does BTL work?
With a BTL mortgage the deposit requirements are normally higher than for a property you are going to live in yourself. For a residential mortgage you can normally put down as little as 10% subject to lending criteria and credit scoring. For a BTL it is normally expected that you will put down a minimum of 25% and often you need to put down at least 40% of the purchase price to obtain good interest rates. In our example, assuming my friend goes ahead he will have to put down £30,000 as a deposit as a minimum.
Running Upfront Expense Total: £30,000.
The deposit is not the only one-off cost to be paid however. For a BTL, Stamp Duty will also be payable at a rate of 3% of the purchase price up to £125,000. Beyond this Stamp Duty rises to 5% and then 8%. So, in addition to the £30,000 deposit, my friend will have to pay £3,600 in Stamp Duty.
Running Upfront Expense Total: £33,600.
There will also be valuation fees and legal fees to consider. Some lenders will offer a basic valuation service which checks that the property is basically in liveable condition. It will not be a full and thorough survey. The costs for these can easily range up to £1,000, although the less detailed surveys can cost just a few hundred. The question is how much of a risk are you willing to take? You could spend tens of thousands in deposit and fees and then scrimp on your survey and find the property needs thousands of pounds worth of repairs. None of this accounts for the legal fees which can easily account for £500-£1,000 as well. Assuming that my friend went for a comprehensive survey and found a reasonably priced solicitor the total fees here could come in at around £1,500.
Running Upfront Expense Total: £35,100.
Is the property going to be furnished or unfurnished? If furnished, then this can easily add on a few hundred to a few thousand more depending on how far you want to go. I’m not going to get side tracked too much here except to point out that this is just another expense to consider. Let us assume my friend goes the unfurnished route.
So far I have described some of the upfront costs that will need to be considered. This list is by no means exhaustive and there are always going to be unexpected expenses when buying a property. If you are going to rent out the property there are also health and safety checks to be carried out for the gas, electric and so on. I don’t have experience in arranging these, as anytime I look at investing in BTL I add up the costs to this point (as well as the ongoing costs) and usually decide to invest elsewhere.
Another consideration is whether my friend will manage the property himself. Will he draw up the contract or use an off-the-shelf contract? Will he collect rent himself? Will he organise any repairs and maintenance that will come up from time to time? Will he deal with the inventory at the start and end of the tenancy? Will he advertise and market the property himself? Complete referencing and vetting of prospective tenants?
Renting a property out and managing it yourself can become a full-time job. I know a lot of people who have dabbled in BTL, managing the property on their own, and not a single one of them has found it rewarding either personally or financially. So the other option is engaging a management company or letting agent.
I’ve googled a reputable letting agent and calculated their fees based on this information. The property my friend is looking at should rent for £600-£650 per month. I’ll go with £650.
Arranging Viewings and General Marketing: One month rent + VAT.
Tenancy Set Up: £300.
Rent Collection Only: 10% of rent payable.
Full Management (Rent Collection in addition to maintenance and other related services): 13%.
Extend Tenancy: £150.
This does include fees for statements, billing, key-cutting, extra property visits and so on.
So, my friend would have to sacrifice his first month’s rent and pay VAT (20% of £650 = £130) on top to just arrange viewings and market the property. Then an extra £300 to set up a tenancy.
Running Upfront Expense Total: £35,530.
Net rent received after letting agent cut (full management): £520
The main ongoing cost is going to be the mortgage. Assuming a 25% deposit, you can probably expect a rate of between 1.5%-2.5% depending on lender and whether you will opt to pay a fee. Many BTL deals will come with a fee. Assuming a modest fee of £500 for the interest rate, which comes in at 2.0 % and assuming the mortgage will be interest only the monthly payment would be around £150.
Running Upfront Expense Total: £36,030.
Net Rent after mortgage: £370.
It can be time consuming to calculate all the costs as a landlord.
It’s important to remember that on an interest only mortgage none of the debt is being repaid. At the end of the mortgage term, the debt will need to be paid back in full. It’s also important to remember that once the initial interest rate ends, the rate will likely jump up and it can easily revert to a rate double that of the initial rate. The alternative is to switch to a new deal (likely coming with product fees again) or even switch lender (product, legal and valuation fees to be paid).
For this property there are other costs to consider. A city centre apartment will come with service charges and ground rent. I see these costs regularly through my job and this sort of property will easily have a minimum ground rent of £100 per year and almost certainly service charges that amount to over £75 per month.
Net Rent after service charge: £295.
Tax is another expense. I’m not a tax expert, but when I’ve looked into this for myself the information seems to suggest that you are allowed some reasonable expenses to be removed from the tax calculation but this does not amount to much. My friend is a basic rate tax-payer and will pay 20% tax in this band on income received.
I’m not sure if my friend would be taxed on the rent before agents’ fees are deducted or after. To load the case in my friend’s favour I will assume it is taxed on the amount received after the agent takes their cut; so 20% of £520 which comes to £104
Net Rent after all previous charges and rent: £191.
As I’ve mentioned, I’m not a tax expert or a financial advisor and some of this information may not be entirely accurate. Please do the research and feel free to comment with any corrections.
In addition to what has already been covered, there are other costs to take into account. The first to mention is “void periods”, which are the periods of time in which the property may be vacant. Although your property may be between tenants the utility companies will still expect to be paid, and so will the mortgage lender. A good rule of thumb is to account for one month “void” per year.
Net Rent (accounting for a 1/12 reduction of gross rent annually): £136.
Landlord’s insurance is another cost that is often overlooked. Some google-fu suggests policies can range from £15-£25 per month depending on how much cover you want.
Net Rent assuming basic cover: £121.
In summary, my friend will have “paid” upfront £36,030 to achieve a potential return of £1,452 per annum. This assumes only one month “void” per year, and that the tenant does not keep changing (as would cost more with agent to draw up additional tenancy agreements). It also assumes the tenant will actually pay their rent. I know two people who have had BTL with tenants that refused to pay rent. It is remarkably difficult to legally evict a tenant that is not paying rent.
£1,452 / £36,030 = 4.03%.
For all the above stress, effort and uncertainty the best my friend can hope for is a return of 4.03%.
Becoming a landlord is hard work. It’s stressful. There are no guarantees that money will be made. Many properties can become a black hole into which money disappears. It is difficult to get your money back. In my opinion, BTL should not be considered by those who are not financially literate or experienced. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not anti-property. I invest in several properties through other channels and receive my own rental income but this is all passive income with no day-to-day involvement from me. My return ranges from 4%-7% across the six properties I receive income from. I also invest in the stock market with companies that have a track record of paying dividends. I’m earning between 5% and 7% on these investments with no day-to-day involvement from myself. It’s completely passive income.
If my friend has £36,030 to invest there are plenty of other options other than BTL, and many other options for someone that is starting their financial journey. My opinion is that a BTL should not be a person’s first investment. The first investment should be improving one’s own financial education. From that point on, the mysteries of the stock market and beyond will become clear.
Thanks for reading. If you have any thoughts on this blog, please leave a comment.
The Obesity Code by Jason Fung (Book 15 of my 2018 Reading Challenge)
As I’ve previously discussed on this blog I’ve been losing weight fairly steadily for almost three years now. At my heaviest I was pretty overweight, well over 120kg. Since then I’ve dropped down as low at 95kg but in the last few weeks following another injury I’m back at about 100kg. I’ve read a lot of books on diet and nutrition. For someone who trains a fair amount, I thought I had a decent handle on what I needed to do with my diet. I split my macros so that I have roughly 45% protein, 40% carbs and 15% fats. This split, coupled with highly structured cardio and resistance training seemed to do the trick. The problem is that my shoulders don’t seem to cope very well with long term training. When I take a break from training to recover from injury, I tend to carry on eating as if I’m training. It then leads to weight gain. This book jumped out at me as something a little bit different. As someone who advocates logic, reason and the scientific method, I am always open to having my mind changed.
The worst diets are the ones where you are encouraged to primarily eat one type of food above all others, for example the cabbage soup diet. Then there are the ones that tell you to just avoid a certain food or types of food altogether like avoiding all bread.
Common sense alone tells you that if you restrict your list of available foods then you will lose weight, simply because after a few bowls of cabbage soup you will reach a point at which the thought of another bowl makes you feel a little sick. Reduce calories in then you will lose weight. If you go with the other type of “diet” and suddenly cut out a major part of your regular diet, then common sense again states you will probably lose weight. There is a reason why “diet” books sell in the millions and it is because they pretty much all fail in the long-term. Think about it, if there was a magic bullet to sustained, long-term weight loss then all “diet” books would be worthless. The one who found the magic bullet would sell their book in record numbers. The simple fact that the industry makes as much money as it does should indicate that many of the solutions just do not work.
Honestly, there's only so much of this you can take.
Dr Fung makes some pretty bold claims but what I like about this book is that most of the claims are backed up by research on people. Earlier I wrote about how mainstream media does not report science well; this is because a significant proportion of dietary research is conducted on animals such as mice or rats. The findings are then applied to people. When the media reports this, often the fact that the research was on animals is omitted. This is also a problem with some drug research. Where possible, one should always find the primary source for the research findings. Now, it should be noted that I’ve not done this yet with respect to the arguments made in The Obesity Code but I will be looking into it in more detail.
The main argument put forward is that insulin resistance is the main cause of weight gain and not calorie surplus. That’s not to say that calories do not play a part, but rather the increase in calorie consumption is caused in no small part by an increase in insulin resistance. It becomes a self-reinforcing cycle where the more weight you gain, the more resistant you become to insulin and the more resistant to insulin you become the more you end up eating. I’ve obviously reduced a lengthy book down to the absolute basics but it’s an interesting hypothesis. It is also argued that the best way to increase insulin sensitivity is to eat whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible and to avoid grazing. It has seemingly become more popular in recent years to engage in grazing or to put it simply; frequent snacking. Dr Fung describes how people feel compelled to eat three meals and snack in between as it is thought to keep their metabolism active. This advice is thoroughly deconstructed in The Obesity Code with more simple advice being given:
1. Eat only when you are hungry and avoid snacking where possible.
2. Reduce the number of times a day you eat.
3. Engage in intermittent fasting.
4. Disregard the advice that breakfast is the most important meal. If you are not hungry when you wake up, don’t force yourself to eat breakfast.
The (not so) ideal breakfast.
There is a compelling description and analysis about how the idea of the body going into “starvation mode” is largely overplayed. Overall, The Obesity Code has given me a lot to think about and I’m going to start incorporating some of the advice given. The first step I’m going to take is to engage in intermittent fasting. It may take some adjusting as I go in terms of how long I will fast for and how many calories I will allow when fasting. This will not be the absence of food on fasting days but a drastically reduced amount of food consumed. It’s going to be an interesting experience, I’m sure.
As always, if you are considering making changes to your diet or exercise level please consult a medical professional before doing so.
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.