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The £50 ticket

The £50 ticket

After we’d won at Scunthorpe in May 2000 to clinch promotion, someone said to me on the way back home that we would now face extortionate prices for tickets in the higher league. I was too busy celebrating to be honest to be too concerned about ticket prices but he was right, and when we travelled to Nottingham Forest in the next season it came with the first £20 ticket for Burnley fans. Not just being plenty, that was considered too much for some people, and given we were beaten 5-0 on the night it was hardly value for money.

To be fair, it was, I think, the only occasion we reached £20 that season but there’s certainly been a climb since and by the time we were ready to leave the, by then named, Championship a £20 ticket was hardly worthy of a mention although prices hadn’t gone up too much.

That was the 2008/09 season. To balance things, the Forest tickets had gone up to no more than £22 whilst Preston, at £19.60, and Birmingham with £15 tickets were the only ones to go below £20. QPR hit us with the most expensive ticket at £30.

Birmingham charged us £20 in the following season, both of us having been promoted. They were joint cheapest with Portsmouth and Wigan, but there were shocks for us at Chelsea and Manchester United, with ticket prices at £47 and £42 respectively, and another eight clubs coming in over £30.

Moving on five years, on our return to the Premier League, Chelsea and Manchester United prices had gone up again, Chelsea at a ridiculous £50. Those two had been joined by Manchester City, Liverpool and West Ham in those over £40.

Thankfully, Leicester, who charged £19 and Hull with £16 helped reduced the average price over the season as did the away fans initiative which helped us with reductions at Swansea, QPR, Manchester City and Everton.

The away fans initiative was introduced after pressure from the Football Supporters Association which pushed Premier League clubs into using £200,000 towards improving things for away supporters. Some clubs offered free travel, others price reductions. At one point Burnley were thinking of using it to offer free t-shirts for travelling fans to our game at Hull. Ultimately we did use half of it to spend on improving the cricket field stand for other club’s away fans but at least the other half went on ticket reductions, thus benefiting all Burnley fans at those particular games and not just the ones travelling from Burnley.

We even gained from the fact that clubs categorise games. For example, we were charged £26 at Arsenal, supporters of the top clubs had to fork out £64. Likewise at Hull, away tickets for other games were priced at £50.

For some time the Football Supporters Federation (FSF) have campaigned for better priced tickets for away supporters. ‘Twenty’s Plenty’ was their slogan as they wanted £20 to be the maximum price for away fans in the Premier League.

The Twenty’s Plenty campaign was launched in 2013 and there have been degrees of success, certainly at some grounds, but it seemed to be a losing battle to win the Premier League over.

Demonstrations have been held and there was a weekend of action ahead of last week’s Premier League meeting when they finally accepted the importance of away supporters and agreed that, from next season, and for three seasons, all away tickets will be capped at £30.

This will replace the away fans initiative and I’ve just calculated that, should we be in the Premier League next season, we’ll be paying just about the same as we paid last season when, with the benefit of the away fans initiative, we paid just around £30.40 per game.

That is assuming that all clubs will charge the maximum permitted of £30. Hopefully, some of the more sensible clubs, the likes of Stoke and West Brom, will stick to their principles. Both continue to charge around £25 for some games.

Whether we are there or not, it is a big step forward and well done to the FSF and the many supporters groups from Premier League clubs who have fought so hard to get this change implemented.

Burnley were not involved in the decision, currently being members of the Football League, but Up the Clarets understands that it is a decision that our club support. It’s not the same with every club and promotion challengers Hull are certainly not in favour.

Last week their vice-chairman Ehab Allam said: “I see the price cap as short-sighted, politically motivated and not in the interests of football. Politics, such as when a Government working group recently published fan ownership, should not be mixed with football at this level.

“What will happen next? The black market will flourish. At £30 per ticket, most clubs are going to be over-subscribed when it comes to fans applying for tickets.”

Hull, meanwhile, have scrapped season tickets and will now offer a membership scheme that looks, to me, no different than our season ticket scheme where you can pay monthly by direct debit.

They are claiming some fans will save up to £280 per season but when you read further down, it says that a large number of fans will have to move from existing seats to new locations to take advantage of the savings. That would be no different than me moving to a cheaper part of Turf Moor. Hull also acknowledge that there will be some losers, in particular teenagers who sit by themselves.

The supporters don’t seem too keen on the idea, maybe part of the deal is changing the name to Hull Tigers, who knows?  There will be something behind this, I’m sure, that the public are not aware of.

As for the new agreement, it is for the Premier League only. So, don’t be surprised if you still see Leeds charging £42 on the day for away fans in the Championship or Ipswich with their £32.50 tickets. On the subject of Ipswich, I laughed this week at the Lancashire Telegraph’s Blackburn reporter Paul Wheelock bemoaning the fact that their supporters had to pay that high charge at Ipswich. Glass houses and stones came to mind given the club he covers charged Burnley fans £34 for a televised game this season.

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