I suppose this blog will polarise fans. The season ticket holders will support the club in rewarding them for buying a season ticket, whilst the non-season ticket holder will no doubt feel a bit like I do, alienated by Huddesfield Town. This isn’t a blog having a go at the club more holding the club to account and constructive criticism of how the club can do more for fans.
In the 4th round of the FA Cup last season Town charged £10 a ticket to get in for an “unattractive” tie against a divisional rival in Leicester, 12,000 fans took up the reduced ticket prices including 8000 terriers. It was an incentive for me as a non-season-ticket holder to get down to watch a side that had been underperforming for months and surely seeing a stadium half full for an unappealing game was a success.
So when Charlton were announced as the opposition for the 2nd round League Cup tie, you would imagine similar pricing to entice more floating fans to attend, but instead today it as announced that tickets were to be £15 unless you are a season ticket holder.
Of course people who fork out several hundred quid deserve rewarding to dedicating there money and time towards the club, but my question is, are season ticket holders rewarded enough?
A season ticket holder gets a reasonable discount on match tickets over a 23 game season, a first chance to buy tickets for away games and assumedly first refusal on big game cup ties at home. Added to that the new fan points system, or as they are calling it the 1908 loyalty scheme rewarding fans who attend many games and buy merchandise.
Do season ticket holders also deserve a 33% discount on an unappealing cup tie against a similar statured club, especially when this is the type of game you can draw in the floating fans and possibly new fans through well thought out ticket initiatives.
I look at a local rival in Barnsley who are also offering a discount to season ticket holders but a reasonable £2 one, charging the non-season ticket holder £12 to watch a game at home to Premier League opposition. If I was a neutral just looking to watch a football game on the 27th of August I’d rather pay £12 to watch a potential cup upset between Barnsley and Southampton than £15 for two similar Championship sides.
This isn’t the first time this season that Town could be seen to be alienating Town fans, many students who are away at university now have to pay full price to go to games unless they have chosen to take up an under 23 season ticket, it’s even worse for a mature student who now have no choice to pay full price either for a season ticket or match day prices.
Of course the club will defend their actions as all under 23s can now get a cheaper season ticket and there is another new incentive called Pick’n’Mix. However, it is only available for adults as it’s on “trial” even though this would be ideal for many student Town fans that live away from home but come home occasionally and want to watch their football club, again a mistake from those in charge at Town.
Already Chief Executive Nigel Clibbens has been on twitter defending the ticket prices for adults, suggesting that a midweek cup game suffers from “inelastic demand” (when people’s buying habits don’t respond very much to changes in the price) and that more than 50% of the gate at the John Smith’s is from under 18s and over 60s. (see below)
However, a midweek cup game against Charlton may not be price inelastic as Clibbens suggests. This afternoon I posed this question on twitter “Out of interest and research how many non season ticket holder #htafc fans won’t be going to the Charlton game due to it being £15?!” and of the few replies I got they all said they would be avoiding this fixture, as will I.
I also don’t believe Clibbens reply to my question posted regarding Season Ticket holders getting enough of a discount on match day prices, especially with match day prices being quite expensive for the average person. (see below)
Ultimately I think there is a fine balance between keeping those loyal season ticket holders happy and ensuring floating fans don’t feel hard done by and in this situation regarding the Charlton match they have made a mistake.
Many floating fans can’t give football the loyalty that some can due to affordability, work and other commitments and I find myself in all of those sections otherwise I would have a season ticket, but cup games like the one against Charlton are where you try and entice floating fans in to hopefully try and get them coming back regularly.
Fifteen pounds for an unappealing fixture is simply too much and whilst I see where the club is coming from, I would rather save that £15 for the Barnsley away fixture at the end of this month, a game with more intensity, meaning and ultimately it is a day out with friends and fellow Town fans.
Of course I’d rather my money go to the club I support but in this instance I feel I will get more value for money in a game that supplies rivalry, intensity and a greater atmosphere.
Please feel free to comment, debate and criticise. After all this is what this blog is here for. I’d also like to say how refreshing it is to see those high up in the Huddersfield Town hierarchy on social media providing a connection with fans and long may it continue.