Here it is… yes, another article about the price of away tickets. And before you start, let me pre-write the predictable lines for some of you to copy and paste in to the comments section.
“Welcome to the big leagues, we've been paying these prices for years. Get used to it”
“It's a supply and demand market, it's the best league in the world, you're paying for a top quality product”
“We've got to charge high prices because City have inflated the market and it's the only way we can compete”
Now, if your view is any of the above and you are steadfast in your belief, then there's probably nothing for you here, you've been possessed by the spirits of club directors and there's no saving you now. However, if you are willing to hear counter points and are also willing to question the actions of your own club as well as others, then please do read on.
After recently being charged double that of fans of other clubs – including Real Madrid – for away matches, I set up the #awaypricecap petition through the helpful people at change.org, asking for a reasonable cap of £30 on the price of away tickets in the Premier League. After moderate uptake, the media surprisingly ran with the story of the 912 tickets returned to Arsenal, and signatures started flying in. I teamed up with like-minded fans at @awayfanprices and after just over a week we received almost 4,000 signatures with very little effort on our side. Now we want to keep the momentum going and finally get fans voices heard.
However, one obstacle we keep finding is the blind loyalty of some fans that just refuse to support you. Since “The £62 debacle” or whatever we want to call it, I keep reading the angry responses from fans of other clubs, such as the predictable ones above. My response is the same every time; “this is not about individual clubs, this is about all football fans”. It doesn't matter who charged who what, all of our clubs are guilty of charging too much and we are being ripped off. It's unnecessary and it has to be stopped for the good of our game.
This blind loyalty and constant desire to prove who's got the moral high ground is why football fans have been getting walked all over for years; we can never work together for the good of the collective… it's idiotic. As football fans we all have those sets of fans we hate, but standing up for the good of all football fans should not be a difficult thing to do. We stand together to support our national team, why can't we stand together to save our national sport?
On Wednesday The Football Supporters Federation announced a great plan to combine fan efforts from all leagues to form the Twenty's Plenty campaign. Their plan takes our campaign a step further and requests that ALL Leagues sign up to cap adult prices at £20 and concessions at £15.
After speaking with the FSF, we have happily agreed to get involved and make sure that any one who has signed or does sign our petition will be kept informed on how their efforts can help the #20Plenty campaign in one way or another. The efforts of the last few weeks will not be wasted.
This is a potentially big moment in English football, the combination of so many supporters groups combining for one cause is barely heard of in it's history, if ever, and it's a show of unity that we need to see more often if we are to keep the match going experience a good one for all types and ages.
At present, the Premier League is slowly eating itself and all the top clubs are leading the way. Part of the love of a live match is the back and forth between both sets of supporters; without that there's less passion. When fans are asked to pay £52 and travel up to Manchester from Southampton for a 16:00 kick off on a Sunday, the atmosphere is going to be flat, because you'll only get a handful of away fans. And what about the big piece of the pie, the TV money? When we end up with stadiums full of only home fans why would any TV company invest billions in that?
The FA & the Leagues need to be aware of the bigger picture and start reigning in the clubs on pricing. And as a collective, us fans need to make sure they are aware, for the good of what was “the working mans sport”.