In football success comes at a price. It comes at a price to supporters up and down the country.
While Southampton, Swansea City and AFC Bournemouth have risen up the leagues in recent years, so have their ticket prices.
Following a Premier League club has become a huge financial burden.
Picture the scene last May of a Bournemouth fan overjoyed by the club reaching the top flight…
He/she can’t wait to see the likes of Norwich City and Sunderland at Dean Court, maybe even heading to some away fixtures too.
In 2014-15, due to promotion from League 1 to the Championship, season ticket prices at Bournemouth saw an increase of 20%.
- Cheapest adult season ticket £480
- Most expensive adult season ticket £660 (excluding executive)
- No discount for renewals
This is what this season’s pricing currently looks like:
- Cheapest adult season ticket £550
- Most expensive adult season ticket £760 (excluding executive)
- No discount for renewals
1.3 million people in the UK earn the national minimum wage (around 5.1% of jobs). Let’s take someone who works 40 hours a week at the current minimum wage of £6.70 for those 21 and over.
If this person wanted to buy the cheapest available season ticket at Bournemouth this season, it would mean 4.4% of this person’s after tax salary of £12,500 would be spent on it – over half his/her monthly pay packet.
In just two seasons fans have gone from paying a minimum of £400 to a minimum of £550. For an area with a median wage of £390 before tax it strikes as Bournemouth taking advantage of the fact only 7,000 season cards are up for grabs each season in their 11,400 capacity stadium. An allocation of upto 2,000 is given to away supporters.
Latics have approximately the same number of season ticket holders as Bournemouth. The difference is, if all of our fans decided they wanted to be tight gits and sit in the cheaper zones, they could (or some could just buy a seat in a cheaper area and jib a spot in the middle of ES6 on the halfway line).
At Bournemouth their cap of 7,000 season ticket holders in a ground smaller than Gigg Lane means availability in the less expensive seating areas is limited.
The Cherries are no different to a lot of the Premier League’s elite in this matter. If you won’t pay £550 for a season ticket, someone else will. If you won’t pay £760 for a season ticket since the cheap seats are sold out, someone else will.
Regardless of how long you’ve supported Bournemouth for – it’s £550 minimum, whoever pays it gets it.
Many only manage to afford their season ticket through spreading payments over a number of months. The much criticised finance partner of a host of football clubs V12 Season Ticket Finance is commissioned by Bournemouth to deal with these monthly payments.
Choosing to pay for your season ticket over just four months costs £20, and considerably more for payments over a longer period of upto eight months. And if V12 Finance decide on rejecting your application to pay monthly, that’s too bad.
It’s the beautiful game, so they say.
So what comes first: your own enjoyment or the sole benefit of the team? The latter is adopted at plenty of clubs, but it’s only really in the top two divisions (mainly the Prem) where this ‘fan = customer’ philosophy comes at the expense of a supporters’ enjoyment.
Would you rather be a season ticket holder at a League One club and be able to travel to maybe a dozen away matches a year, or support a Premier League side from your living room most weekends because the prices have doubled?
Don’t start going all Tory on me as if I’m Jeremy Corbyn attacking aspiration, but it should be a no brainer for those of us who believe football is more than the 90 minutes (plus whatever the sh*thouse in the black adds on).
As a Latics fan I needn’t worry for some time about whether to buy a new pair of trainers or go to Chelsea away on the train.
I’m happy enough buying a new pair of trainers, going to Chesterfield away and coming home with half of the Proact Stadium’s hallowed turf attached to them.
Maybe in years to come fans will be able to cherry-pick the best of both worlds, affordable football and successful football – but not for the foreseeable future at least.