On Tuesday, we began discussion on the pricing scandal at Manchester City. One of the aspects of the article was the Twenty’s Plenty campaign spearheaded by The Football Supporters Federation. On the back of this, Newcastle United offered all clubs in the Premier League a reciprocal pricing agreement where they would charge away fans £20 if their opponents reciprocated the offer.
Of all the other 19 Premier League clubs, only Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion took them up on the offer. A couple of other clubs have done some side agreements, such as Crystal Palace offering to knock £5 off of the Newcastle travelling fans ticket if this was reciprocated, but by and large, the offer by Newcastle was ignored. The question going through my head when reading this was a simple one.
Everyone says that the reason why a single club is unable to lower ticket prices as they then generate less revenue, and as a consequence, put themselves at a disadvantage to other Premier League clubs. If that rationale is true, why then, would barely any club take up an offer which, if every club took it up, would create a disadvantage not to themselves, but to an opponent. In this case Newcastle United.
Had every club have taken up Newcastle United’s offer, they would all be down a similar amount in revenue, that being the difference between the usual ticket price and the £20. Meanwhile Newcastle would be down 19 times that. So if clubs are refusing to budge on ticket prices due to putting themselves at a disadvantage, why would they not take up this offer? Greed.
Greed can be the only answer. Whilst clubs all pay lip services to giving fans a better service and more competitive prices (‘we would if we could’ is the often justification), when it comes down to it, they refuse to budge.
£20 for an away ticket to go to Newcastle would have been more than reasonable. In fact, I would say it is cheap. With an £80 train to Newcastle still required you are still looking at an Arsenal away fan spending £100 to get from London Kings Cross to Newcastle. Incidental, despite Manchester City charging us £58, my cheap rail (£31) means that the Manchester City trip is actually cheaper. Anyway, I digress. £20 would have been a good deal for fans. But then the brain cogs start turning.
Why can Arsenal, for example, reciprocate the Twenty’s Plenty agreement with Newcastle, but then not offer the same to Sunderland, Southampton or Swansea. Why can they not get an agreement that Twenty’s Plenty with Cardiff and Crystal Palace? The fact is, they would have no justification to not come up with similar agreements throughout the Premier League.
One reciprocal agreement would have raised the questions of more. More would have created more. And before you know it, all Premier League clubs have decided that Twenty’s Plenty for all away fans. One deal would have unravelled the cartel, the price fixing, amongst Premier League sides.
You see, they all agree to keep prices high, everyone has to pay that high price. One club makes the Twenty’s Plenty offer, the cartel then has a decision. Either all adopt it, or all boycott it. They decided the latter. Premier League clubs act as a cartel. All agreeing to keep prices high to ensure profits are maximised. They are no different to energy companies or supermarkets. All of whom fix prices to ensure it is the customer that loses out. They do it for greed.
Greed is the only justifiable reasoning for all clubs not jumping all over Newcastle’s Twenty’s Plenty offer. The joke is, how little the greed actually makes Premier League sides.
Arsenal has the second largest away capacity in the Premier League, after Manchester United. The maximum amount of tickets an away side can claim in the Premier League is 3,000 (although the area can be expanded to 4,500 behind the goal for cup games). Now Arsenal announced earlier this season that:
“There will be five ‘A’ Category, eight ‘B’ Category and six ‘C’ category matches in the Premier League across the season.”
Now a little bit of mathematics shows that the 5 Cat A games will generate £310 per seat. the Cat B ones £284 per seat, and the Cat C games £153. A total of £747 for all 19 Premier League games. Now divide this by the 19 games gives you an average of £39 per seat.
Now if you are still with me (and not bored or in the process of taking off your socks to check my maths), the difference between £39 and £20 is £19 (I did that one without my calculator), that works out as £361 per seat over the 19 league games. Now for the magic.
£361 multiplied by the 3,000 seats is £1,083,000. That is how much Arsenal would lose if they offered every Premier League side an away ticket for £20.
That is the cost of a Premier Leagues greed. Taking into account that, as we mentioned, Arsenal have the 2nd largest ground, and amongst the highest ticket prices, it is unlikely that anyone will have a bigger loss then Arsenal. £1,083,000 is the price of a football clubs greed.
Now it might seem a large number to some of you. However, when you take into account that in 2013, the turnover of Arsenal Football Club was £242,800,000, a little over £1m is no longer that big a number. It would be 0.4% of our turnover. The greed of Arsenal, and other clubs, is so minuscule it is unexplainable. £1,083,000 for a football club is nothing, especially when the new TV deal, in this season, will see the BOTTOM clubs income rise by around £22 million. The greed is unexplainable. But then again, the greedy always want more.
What the clubs are clearly worried about is the Pandora’s Box that Twenty’s Plenty could open. If they can offer away fans tickets for £20, why can they not offer home fans? And they the ball of string will begin to unravel. By boycotting Newcastle’s offer, they ensure that away fans do not get a better deal, and as a consequence, ensure that home fans continue to pay a premium.
If that box were to open, how much would it cost Arsenal? Well their match day revenue is around £100m (give or take), were they to offer tickets for £20 to all 60,000 supporters over a 28 game seasons (taking into account average amount of cup games) Arsenal would see a revenue drop from £100m to £33.6m. Around a £60,000,000 drop (although this does not factor in the coporate seats). Now that is the greed!
All I know is that Arsenal Football Club would not miss £1,083,000 if they agreed with every club in the Premier League tickets for £20, however, as a regular away fan an extra £361 (approximately) in my pocket over a season would make a BIG difference.