BILLY'S CONTRACT on football austerity

Middlesbrough, who are challenging for automatic promotion/or via the play-offs to the Premiership, have seen their home crowd average around 15,000 per game, which, to be brutally hones,t is a poor showing. Fearing that their crowd would drop below the 10,000 mark for the televised game on Sky against Sheff Weds, to their credit the Boro management reduced the price of tickets to £12. The result was a bumper crowd of 28,000, their biggest since they played Newcastle in the Premiership some years back. The plus side for the Boro was increased revenue for the club, not forgetting the added numbers creating a better atmosphere within the sanatorium, i.e. more morons chanting ‘Cmon Boro’. Did I say better atmosphere? More atmosphere in a fish tank than there is at the Riverside.

To carry on the momentum of filling their stadium, they then offered their fans a two for one ticket for their forthcoming fixtures against Bristol City and Huddersfield. So instead of paying the normal ticket price of £29 per match (Yes, £29 to watch the Boro!) effectively the punter was paying £14.50, which was £2.50 more than the Sheffield Wednesday game. In light of the 28,000 who turned up to watch Boro v the Owls, the attendance for the Bristol and Huddersfield game were a disappointing 20,500 and 21,800 respectively, which excluding away support means they are 8,000 fans down on the Sheff Weds game though 5,000 up on their normal crowd average."Did I say better atmosphere? More atmosphere in a fish tank than there is at the Riverside."

As we all know, attending football matches is not a cheap past time. Indeed in many fans eyes it is grossly overpriced. But if the Boro or any other club analysed these figures they would see that by reducing ticket prices significantly they will increase numbers through the turnstiles. Yet by increasing the prices by a mere £2.50 as the Boro did, it will also prohibit or even exclude the number of fans prepared to put their hands in their pockets to watch live football.

Boro or any club in this division can see from this piece of market research that £12 is a fair price to watch a Championship game of football. Leeds United is another example. Their crowds when they were in league one were around 26,000. Now that they are in the Championship they have increased ticket prices and they are now averaging 22,000 per home game. Mind, along with Boro who would want to watch them anyway?

Lessons should be learned. Football clubs should be aware that we are now living in Austerity Britain and football fans are not the cash cows they used to be.