Following West Ham’s 3-0 defeat at home to Manchester City in the second leg of the Capital One Cup, there was a lot of talk about the price of tickets for what was deemed a “pointless” match. As you may already know, I bought my ticket to that match as soon as they went on sale, before the first leg.
So on the long journey back to Manchester after the Upton Park leg, we were listening to TalkSport. They kept (and I emphasise kept) repeating that the tickets for that match were £42. There were a few price bands, I believe, some season ticket holder got in for around £30 and kids were let in for a quid. For the whole of the show, it didn’t matter what West Ham fans rang in to say, all the presenters wanted to talk about was the ticket prices.
They also didn’t seem to grasp the fact that due to the rules of the competition and the financial implications for Man City, we couldn’t just let everyone in for free. This started to grate on me a bit. I have always been of the opinion that when making a ticket purchase, fans are making their own decision to part with their hard earned cash. We’re not completely stupid, we kind of know that we’re not going to get Barcelona’s style of play or Rooney-esque goals of the season. But we still put in our card details to buy the ticket because we love West Ham, faults and all.
I really don’t like complaining about paying £40+ for a ticket, whether it be in the league or a cup. My argument is if you don’t want to pay it, then don’t. You wouldn’t go shopping and stare at a pair of trainers (or a handbag, ladies) and think: “No, I can’t afford £70 and they’re not really worth that, but I think I’ll buy them anyway.”
If you did still buy them, it’s because you had some kind of affection towards them, and you shouldn’t complain about paying that money for them. From a business point of view there isn’t really much reason to lower the price of football tickets. The League Cup match aside, the Boleyn Ground is packing in a decent crowd week in, week out, and even did back in the Championship years
As a businessman, why would you even consider that lowering your prices is a necessary move? They say that the best action is to vote with your feet. I’m not suggesting that those who don’t like the ticket prices all boycott games, but I do believe that calling in radio stations and having a whinge on the concourses isn’t going to make a difference. The only way to hit football club owners is in the pocket. Having said all this, I do have to agree that prices are ridiculous these days, especially in London.
I see the argument that season ticket holders and regular attendees have. They pay shocking prices to quite often watch shocking football. It’s not fair. Players get an unreal sum of money to play sometimes poor football, and effectively fans feel as if they’re paying their wages for the supposed privilege of watching them play. I agree, that’s not on.
There is also the thought that the costs are excluding families from enjoying a Saturday at a football match. This is not exclusive to West Ham, this is true for a lot of clubs, particularly the “big” clubs and London based ones. I think West Ham have got it quite right with their ‘Kids for a Quid’ scheme and as an exseason ticket holder, I always used to see the difference that this made to families.
There are also advantages to being a Club Member – there are at least two half price matches every season, which does help if you want to just get to Upton Park a couple of times a season to make the most of the stadium while it is still home. While I do accept that the subject of ticket prices was going to come up after losing a first leg 6-0 and still charging £40+ for the privilege to watch the second leg in the flesh, I heard a lot of people ring in to the post match phone-in who were in the same boat as me, saying that we bought those tickets before the first half – it didn’t really matter what happened, we were going to be at the return leg as fans.
It was a lot of money to fork out, but my personal argument was never that it was too costly. I would have liked a free hat or something though.