Maybe I've got a bit of a cynical head on at the moment, but I do find myself reacting to the news that several Premiership clubs have cut ticket prices for next season with a healthy dose of scepticism.
I'm sure fans of Blackburn, Bolton and Wigan (amongst others) won't be averse to paying around 10% or so less to get into games next season, and the decision to reduce prices for juniors has certainly been a success at City, but let's not kid ourselves that the prime reason behind all of this is to 'give something back to the fans' as Bolton chairman Phil Gartside suggests:
'It is a serious issue that has reached saturation
point across the country, we feel duty bound to make a stance by reducing the
cost for our season ticket holders, and I'm sure other clubs will follow suit
next season and listen to public opinion.'
The reason behind the move is surely and solely because the three teams (although they are not exclusive) I have mentioned are struggling badly in terms of attendance this season and are having to resort to these measures to ensure that not only do fans renew for next season, but also in an attempt to encourage new fans to the club, reversing a downward trend of the past few years.
Look at those teams at the top end of the attendance table, those clubs that are generally filling and stadiums week in week out, are they slashing prices next season? No, of course they're not. They don't need to. Providing they are selling out week after week and fans are seeing success on the pitch, then they virtually have carte blanche to charge what they like. If a fan decides not to renew, then there are two, three, maybe four others ready to step into their place.
Remember when we moved to theCoMS - there was a waiting list for season tickets and you knew you had to have a season ticket to guarantee you getting into the game. That is clearly no longer the case - not just at City, but for the majority of clubs in the Premiership who are seeing large sections of stadiums empty for games.
There are several campaigns in the public eye now that are gathering momentum - The MEN, Sun and Football federation to namecheck but a few, and the growing groundswell of opinion has become such that it is forcing clubs to rethink their pricing strategy as fans are now longer willing to pay the amounts that clubs are charging - given the fact that an increasing amount of TV games means it is far easier (and convenient) to give games a miss.
The overall current campaigns for fair ticket prices is an admirable one - one that will be succesful, and will serve to give fans a better deal in the long run, but I fear that at present certain clubs are now using this issue to generate some favourable PR (at a time when season ticket renewals is coming round again) rather than holding their hands up and admitting the reason they are reducing prices is because they cannot fill their stadiums.
Not for one second am I suggesting that I am against any of the campaigns or decisions of clubs to cut ticket prices - far from it, but I wished that there was a more honest assessment from the clubs as to why the moves are being done, as opposed to hiding behind a cause such as having the fans' best interests at heart.