Sport

Twenty’s Plenty: Campaign calling for £20 cap on away match prices ‘to save football’ set for Manchester launch

By Dean Wilkins

A campaign to drastically cut the price of away football matches to £20 will be launched in Manchester next week, as 90% of supporters are unhappy with ticket charges.

The Football Supporters Federation will promote the ‘Score Campaign’ to cap prices in reaction to the rapid rising costs of watching football away.

Manchester City fans return almost a third of their allocated tickets for last Sunday’s visit to Arsenal, after being charged £62 for a ticket.

Deputy Chairmain of the FSF Martin O’Hara said: “Those who follow their team away are the distilled essence of the football fan – the hardcore. Without away fans the atmosphere at games dies and football loses a large part of what makes it so special.

“Travelling supporters spend the most time and money on their team and that deserves recognition and reward. In the short term clubs might make a few extra quid by squeezing away fans dry but long-term vision is required.”

The prices at the Emirates were met with uproar by supporters, some of whom protested held banners in protest at the stadium.

Many are now refusing to travel to watch their team on the road as digital TV broadcasters increase their coverage of the game’s top teams.

“Away attendances are in decline and something must be done by the clubs before that becomes terminal. Who wants to go to games without away fans, games without passion?” Mr O’Hara added.

“We believe that an away ticket price cap of £20 would make football more affordable and halt the decline in away fan attendances. The Score Campaign aims to make this a reality.”

In a ticket policy restructuring, Arsenal slashed the prices of matches with the Premier League’s lesser lights by nearly a third to ensure their home games remained consistently sold out.

The flip side of this, however, was an inflation of ‘Category A’ ticket prices to help compensate for these reductions.

Arsenal Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis defended the club’s pricing policy and said: “This isn’t just an Arsenal issue, across the game we’ve seen ticket prices rise.

“During the last year, we spent a lot of time working with our fan groups to develop our ticketing strategy and create a wider and broader range of prices.”

Tickets for these premium matches – including those with Manchester City and United – therefore jumped from £51 to £62, as Arsenal realised demand was high enough to warrant higher rates.

Many City fans felt that although there is a price to pay with being league champions, Arsenal had crossed the line by boosting their prices.

Supporters Club General Secretary Kevin Parker expressed his outrage at being slapped with a hefty charge to watch his team.

He told MM: “There is, to a certain extent, a price you pay for being the champions. It’s not uncommon to charge a higher price if big teams are coming to town, but for it to go to £62 is just crazy.

“I think there is a line where people say enough is enough, and £62 crossed it.”

The FSF will launch the crusade in central Manchester on January 24 at 7pm.

The free event is open to fans of all clubs – we want to see you there and is the first in a series of nationwide meetings to be announced.

Picture courtesy of ell brown, with thanks

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