Date: 2nd June 2016
I am of an age when life was oh so much simpler way back when… You decided on Saturday morning to go to the game, went to the ground and paid at something called a gate. Being an Ayr United fan that is something I continue to be used to. Even on those, rare and very welcome, occasions that I was going to see a promotion or relegation event, I still had absolutely no doubt that there would still be room for little old me.
Even on the rare occasions Ayr have managed cup semi finals or finals I have never worried about being able to get there. Ticket touting was something I always believed was confined to concerts. Until now that is.
Down in Leicester the Foxes Trust has roundly condemned the people who bought tickets for the final home league game of the season, against Everton, and were selling them for around £1,500 per pair.
In the music industry there are a number of artists who have been flabbergasted and appalled that their concerts have attracted inflated prices well above what a reasonable human being ought to pay for them. It has taken the music industry a while to work out some kind of response – beyond simple outrage.
This is however a new phenomenon for football – or is it? Perhaps we can all remember people standing outside grounds with their hands in the air holding tickets, shouting a price for us all to chase. Or even if we don’t know people who were in Seville or Manchester we can regale many with the tales of people who went to games here and especially abroad where tickets were in short supply but hopes of getting briefs from the airport to the ground were high.
This is, however, something even more sinister involved here than just the exploitation of you seeing your favourite boyhood team win in a far flung place or on a national stage. This is about organised teams of profiteers taking money out of the game by getting in the way of revenue going through the turnstiles and into the merchandise stands. This is serious money and fans get fleeced so that they can then see the historic event but memories replace the things they would have bought if the tickets had not been so expensive… The fans lose out, the club loses out and the people who walk away from the grounds when the whistle is blown, having their pockets bulging with cash are the only ones who win. And who do they support? Themselves…
We already know that the price of football in comparison to going to other leisure events is incomparable. The fact that people tell me that the prices of a football ticket is around the same as a good concert at the SECC is as convincing as suggesting that Kevin Bridges shall be there every second weekend to entertain me for the same price; which is where the comparison falls down. It also falls when you consider that the guarantee of Kevin Bridges being funny is far more convincing than Ayr being any good…
Fans need affordable football because by getting more fans in through the gates we can increase the clout we have at the negotiating tables for sponsorship, government support and political goodwill. Keeping the team of fans together who can afford to pursue their dream of seeing their team progress or, in the case of Leicester City, provide their fans with the best and most entertaining dream of all Premiership clubs – a Premier League title! This is, for a fan, a normal and understandable aim. That people, outside of the game, are making money out of that is scandalous and all the fans in the world should bandy together to make sure that clubs and the people in charge of the game nationally do all that they can to avoid this happening.
Foxes Trust Vice Chairman Matt Davis said “We know the club will be as angry as the fans about this blatant profiteering, and we have asked the club to clarify what actions it is taking against any individual selling a ticket this way. It’s appalling that many are deprived of this opportunity whilst some greedy individuals have obtained tickets and are now trying to rip fans off.”
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