My faith in modern football was partially restored this weekend. Ticket prices for a top flight game… less than a fiver, you say?
That’s how to reward the loyalty of your supporters.
Sadly this wasn’t in England. Instead, it took a chance visit to a Serie A game and the death in 1992 of anti-mafia prosecutor, Giovanni Falcone (but more on that later).
With a growing number of UK football fans displaying their anger at ever-rising ticket prices this gesture really hit home. If Palermo can afford to do it, why can’t our teams?
It’s fair to say that the Premier League’s recent announcement of a £5 billion TV deal has breathed new life into grass-roots campaigns for fairer ticket prices, with an FSF-led protest urging clubs to ‘redistribute’ some of that wealth to hard-pressed fans.
Research by the Daily Telegraph has shown that most clubs in the Premier are to freeze or cut season ticket prices for 2015/16, yet serious supporter unrest remains – and rightly so.
In recent years inflation-busting increases have led to a growing sense that working class fans are being priced out of the game they love, with away fans often the hardest hit. The FSF’s ‘Twenty is Plenty’ campaign taps into this vein of protest, but for many the dye has long been cast. Modern football is, as they say, rubbish.
Here at N17Express, we’ve highlighted the disgrace that is Spurs’ deal with StubHub – a charter for legalised touting that uses eBay economics to encourage fans to charge their peers up to £200 for a ticket that can retail for as little as £35 at face value. But there are countless examples of other PL clubs who routinely fleece their own fans, and grass-roots campaigns will only succeed if that frustration can be mobilised across the board.
Our fierce rivals Arsenal, for example, charged as much as £2013 for the dubious ‘privilege’ of a season ticket this season, whilst stewards were ordered to confiscate a banner made by Man City fans who were unhappy at being charged £62 to attend their match at the Emirates.
It’s all rather embarrassing for English football, particularly when you look at the European model and in particular clubs like Bayern Munich, whose season tickets in 2013/14 were cheaper than all but one club in the Football Conference – at just £109.65.
Last weekend I was lucky enough to be in Palermo to take advantage of an end of season ‘thank you’ offer for supporters of the Serie A side. Tickets for their home match against Fiorentina were just 5 Euros, with the outlay for women just 1 Euro each.
The offer coincided with the annual celebration of the life of former magistrate Giovanni Falcone, whose efforts to tackle the pernicious influence of the mafia cost him his life, but earned him the adoration of the Sicilian people.
The result? A packed stadium, a party atmosphere, and no doubt bumper takings at club shops around the stadium.
Wouldn’t it be nice to see similar gestures at your club?
It’s clear that fans would be better served mobilising joint opposition to the racket that is the Premier League and its pricing structure. I know that many Spurs fans are sceptical of the ‘cosy’ relationship that they perceive exists between our own Trust and the board of Tottenham Hotspur plc, but apathy will get us nowhere…
You can find out more about the Football Supporters’ Federation’s campaign HERE