Date: 7th April 2007 at 10:18am
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Vital SWFC forum member Compost Bin explains exactly what’s wrong with the thinking on the new ticket pricing.

Wednesday have announced that ticket prices will go up £2 per game across the ground next season: according to SWFC Chairman Dave Allen, the new prices have been benchmarked against other Clubs and ‘provide good value for money’.

Lets clear things up. For a start, comparing one business’ prices and another is fine when talking about a pint of milk. Unless you have brand loyalty to your particular cows, the chances are you’ll go where is cheapest or most convenient. Tesco and Sainsburys are competing against each other for the same custom to sell that pint of milk so prices are usually close to each other. Sheffield Wednesday are NOT competing against Leicester or Southampton for the same custom! By the same token, I doubt very much that having a value for money ticket at Hillsborough will entice Southampton fans to suddenly make them dash up from the south coast every other Saturday. Football doesn’t work that way.

Wednesday fans can’t shop around for the best deal or value, there’s only one place to go and that’s Hillsborough! If prices get too high for an Owls fan, there are no alternatives, Netto don’t do football clubs. If you’re out, you’re out! End of story.

Further to this, aligning Wednesday with other clubs is wrong due to geographies and demographics. Without wanting to put the fair city of Sheffield down, it IS poorer than most places in the country, income for an Owls fan is less than that of a QPR fan by default, in fact much lower than most in the south. Even Leeds has an economy much stronger than Sheffield’s. So £25 in Sheffield actually is worth a lot more than £25 in the south: at least it feels it! It might be 5% of a Southerner’s wages, but 10% of a Sheffielder’s wages.

Thirdly, there’s no diversity around the ground as an incentive to attract the poorest of fans. The unemployed, those finding their feet in the world in their first jobs with low incomes and high outgoings etc, single parents and simply those who don’t earn a great deal. For the cheap ticket to be just 20% lower than the top ticket means that the entire ground is out of the reach of some. Using a different analogy, would people be able to afford holidays each year if the price of a economy flight was just 20% less than first class, and the 2 star hotel was just 20% of a 5 star hotel? No, because by using such tactics you simply force people away who struggle to afford the cheapest deal, unfortunately people have limited money and must budget accordingly. When taking into account external factors such as council tax, inflation busting utility bills and general cost of living, disposable income is at its lowest for decades.

Now, ‘cheap’ is supposed to be £21! I’m sorry but that is not cheap at all to someone on minimum wage who’s just seen the scrapping of the 10% tax rate. It’s not cheap to the single mum or the bloke who dishes out the burgers in McDonalds. It’s not even cheap to a middle-income person, it’s a financial commitment that has to be justified and often it’s hard to justify spending that sort of money for 90 minutes entertainment.

The only rivalry Wednesday have in the ticket market is for floating fans, students, neutrals etc, and that’s with United. Who’s had a great student ticket policy in place for years? Not us. Which city in has the highest student retention ratio in the UK? Sheffield! Put 2 & 2 together and see that they’re creating fans out of thin air. How else did they manage to nearly double their gates in a matter of years while wallowing in the same division? Answer: By selling seats that would otherwise be empty anyway and increasing the chances they’ll never be empty again in the future.

There’ll be 15000 empty seats there on Monday. Instead of getting remaining fans to subsidise empty seats, why not take a different approach and get those seats filled and pay for themselves? Make the Kop a real place for low-income people to attend a game by taking prices down to 1990s levels. Entice the massive student population that a good day or night could be had at Hillsborough for the price of a couple of beers, not the cost of an entire night out.

The Club is so predictable and disappointing with its policies. There’s no thought, no innovative ideas, no reaching out to Owls or potential Owls: just tried and tested above-inflation rises to empty Hillsborough of poorer people and bridging the difference by making those who remain pay that little bit more.

I hate what Wednesday are becoming! I hate the fact that the club I grew up with and that I was born into was a club of common working people, decent honest people that are now being forced away because their wallets don’t fit in with the club.

There used to be a time when Wednesday and Owls were one and the same and breathed in the same breath: now only one is working for the good of the other and only so many Owls can fit down a one way street.