Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust co-chair Martin Cloake says last weekend may go down in history as the time the tipping point was reached on prices…
Tottenham Hotspur took on Juventus at Wembley Stadium in a pre-season friendly organised by Relevent Sports on Saturday. The company hired the stadium, invited the teams, and set the ticket prices. Fans were asked to pay between £24 and £92. To watch a pre-season friendly. The £24 tickets were not the most widely available.
Just 26,251 fans turned up. There was no organised campaign. Fans just didn’t buy the tickets. And that made the message all the more powerful.
There was an outcry as soon as the prices were announced. Tottenham Hotspur was very quick to distance itself – pointing out Relevent had set the prices. Fans voiced the view that the Club should have refused the invitation once the ticket prices were known. Stick up for its fans. But the Club didn’t. The game was pushed heavily through Club channels. It made little difference.
Just over a week before the game, prices were “restructured”. Seat price banding was changed so that more seats at cheaper – and I use that word in its loosest sense – prices were available. Those fans who had paid a hefty whack for seats that were now less of a whack were refunded the difference. I cannot remember an instance when ticket prices for a football match were dropped after being announced and refunds made before the game.
The game between last season’s Premier League runners-up and the Italian champions and Champions League finalists was played out in front of swathes of empty seats at the national stadium, the stadium that will be Tottenham Hotspur’s home for a year. Fans already dismayed by the Club’s failure to price season tickets and match day tickets at a level that reflects the increased capacity simply stayed away. Hardly a great marketing message to send out.
Relevent Sports, of course, are the company trying to get a closed European Super League off the ground. Just a year ago, Relevent chairman Charlie Stillitano was complaining that the likes of Leicester and Spurs had no place keeping teams such as Manchester United and Chelsea out of the Champions League. This year, Spurs are apparently good enough box-office to justify demanding up to £92 for an ordinary seat at a pre-season friendly.
It’s hard to see who has gained out of this. Fairer pricing would have surely seen a better attendance, more income all round, and a better image projected around the world.
But there’s one gain. Whenever ticket pricing is debated, someone pipes up with the view that ‘the only way you’ll get to change anything is if the fans don’t go’.
Last weekend, Tottenham Hotspur’s fans didn’t go.
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Thanks to Tutu for the image reproduced under CC license.