Clubs – unite for the good of your fans

Date: 13th May 2015

AND so, after a stand-off which has lasted weeks, it looks like League bosses are going to get their way and clubs involved in the Premiership play-offs are going to have to charge their season ticket holders to attend the matches.

Rangers and Motherwell were the most vocal about their intentions, but it has been confirmed that Rangers are looking to pack Ibrox with season ticket holders being charged £5 to attend the home leg(s) of the Glasgow club’s play-off tie(s).

Queen of the South charged their season ticket holders for the home first leg of the Rangers match, which was won by the away side 2-1. Hibs are going to charge their season ticket holders £15 to attend the home leg of each of their matches, though the Leith-based club have made it known that they want a reform of the current rules regarding ticket pricing in the play-off matches.

The last club which look as if they will be involved in the play-offs this season is Motherwell. Now, initially they said that they would not be asking season ticket holders to pay to attend the home leg of their tie, however, now that the rest of their potential opponents have changed their mind and adhered to the league rules, it will be interesting to see what Motherwell do, especially considering the strong affiliation between the club and Well Society.

Clubs need to stand together and not back down when faced with threats from the League. Initially clubs were commended by fans around the country for rebelling against the League bosses and their rulebook, because as far as the fans were concerned, how could it be OK for a club to give season ticket holders free entry last season, but wrong for clubs to do the same this season?

Club have, to put it bluntly, bottled it. They’ve lost their nerve as the League look to get their big guns involved and, as a result, it’s the fans who are made to suffer.

Taking Rangers as the main example. They said they wouldn’t charge fans entry fees for play off matches this season but they have performed a complete U-turn and are now doing as they are told. Fans pay several hundred pounds every year for their season ticket, which should entitle them to the end-of-season play-off games. But no, because the League has said they don’t, the club has changed their mind and they have done this as a result of being ordered to do so by their bosses.

Clubs should be willing to take the risk on behalf of their fans. If the League are going to reprimand the clubs, they have a right of appeal and if it is needed, they can go all the way to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The Court can give an independent ruling on what is fair, and what is not. However, clubs were not willing to take this risk for their most-loyal supporters, which means that the fans have once again been left out of pocket and milked like the cash cow they are to the League bosses.

Fans pay enough over the course of a season and should be able to go to every home game with their season ticket. Clubs should be willing to take a risk in doing something for their fans, just like fans take the risk in making a financial commitment to their club every season with their season ticket, or in the case with some clubs, invest their money in shares.

For once, it would just be nice for clubs to give something that little bit extra back to their fans, and all fans in general.

What clubs need to do as well, is stand together and not back down or do an about turn at the first hint of push back from the league. Ultimately the fans are the people filling the stadiums and providing the biggest source of income every season.

If one club backs down, most of the time, the others will, too. Clubs need to unite behind the fans that support them. If clubs can unite, fans can unite and the game will be the ultimate winner.

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