What would you pay to watch a game if Premier League clubs followed FC United's lead?
14 May 2009 04:06
'I've paid good money to watch this tripe and I won't come back ever again - not even if you pay me,' bellowed the disillusioned Newcastle fan as his season-ticket fluttered down in a hail of confetti on the back of the bloke in front of him.
Familiar words, uttered by many an ardent football supporter in their darkest moments, rash promises miraculously forgotten with the next win as the now taped-back-together ticket regains pride of place in the wallet.
But as a season of misery and unfulfilled dreams draws to a close, the 'tomorrow will be better' billboard zooms into view and, threatened with a couple of months with just cricket and tennis to keep them company, solace is gained by buying another ten months of gloom and despair in one easy payment while charting pre-season friendlies.
With prices varying from £250 to £1,825 depending on whether you want to watch Wigan or Arsenal, the price range for Premier League season tickets for 2009-10 is enormous.
And with the recession in mind some clubs have actually dropped prices for next season, most have frozen them and only a couple - Aston Villa and Manchester United - have made marginal increases.
But fans of FC United, the club set up in 2005 in protest at the Glazers buying the Old Trafford club, have gone one step further.
Following their failure to gain promotion from the UniBond League, their elected board have decided to ask all fans to pay only what they can afford next season.
Board member Jules Spencer said: 'We do not feel unilateral price increases are the way forward so we hope the Your Season Ticket, Your Choice campaign will offer a lower season ticket price for those who cannot £140 and get supporters who can afford a bit more can choose to donate as much as they wish.
'This is about empowerment, of collective responsibility, of us all pulling together to ensure the club's future in a way that reflects our founding principles.'
This got Sportsmail thinking.given the chance, what would YOU be willing to pay for a season ticket to watch your club? How much 'empowerment' would you enforce? How strict are your 'principles'?
You can make suggestions below, but in the meantime here are a few to get you going.
ARSENAL It costs a lot to maintain The Emirates while Arsene Wenger's precocious side sidestep trophy after trophy in cavalier manner. ButGunners fans are very loyal, despite the fact that only the Amazing MrMemory Man can remember the last time they actually won anything,60,000 cramming in every week to watch them finish out of the medalsonce again.
Actual 2009-10 prices: £855 - £1,825.
What fans should offer:Their soul if it brings a trophy, the souls of their entire family ifit wins the Premier League, £100 if it's results based, £1,000 if itkeeps Fabregas, £10,000 if it gets rid of Adebayor, £1m to make sureyou're not next to Rory McGrath.
The top club in the second city faded from Champions League hopefuls toEuropa League certainties as manager Martin O'Neill 'tried the kids' tono avail.
Actual 2009-10 prices: £295 - £510
What fans should offer:As much as they can afford in a bid to plug the financial black holescaused by the Bosko Balaban and Juan Pablo Angel shambles, £1000 tokeep Doug Ellis out, £2000 to ensure victories over Birmingham andWolves next season, £2.75 if it's achievement based, £5 if NigelKennedy is played over the tannoy.
Barringa cataclysmic series of results, Rovers will be in the Premier Leaguenext season and then we'll see the best of Sam Allardyce, the managerwho makes unfashionable successful. He'll lose a few of his betterplayers though, Roque Santa Cruz set to leave but no doubt he'll bringin a few foreigners nobody's heard of and make a serious challenge formid-table mediocrity.
Current prices: £249-£439. Next season prices TBC
What fans should offer:The cost of a neck brace so they can watch Rovers' passing game incomfort, £500 to foot the unlucky Steven Reid's medical bills, £1,000 tofund the sharp drop in income for MP and 'celebrity' fan Jack 'Justice Minister' Straw.
Gary Megson's hate-hate relationship with the Trotters' fans is well knownbut he's kept them up for another season so it's job done. Another offootball's 'long ball merchants', Bolton
Current prices: £299-£449. Next season TBC
What fans should offer: £10 deed poll so they change their name to 'Kay' toemulate famous fans Peter Kay and Vernon Kay (no relation), £299 plusan extra £5 to buy a little gift for Megson to bring a smile to hisface, £500 to spend on elbow-sharpening tools for the players, £1000 tosponsor Kevin Davies' pre-match meal.
With only the FA Cup for comfort now, Stamford Bridge is a cold and lonely place. The harsh reality is that they are third best domestically despite somehow making it to the last four of the Champions League.Minor trophies mean nothing to Russian billionaires - expect the windof change to bite deep down the King's Road.
Actual 2009-10 prices: £635 - £1,125
What fans should offer: £1,000to keep the ageing squad in warm milk and slippers, £2,000 if it meansthey can find out where THAT Norwegian ref lives, £5,000 if it helpsthem find a legal loophole to force UEFA to replay THAT semi-final,anything because they can afford it and they all drive 4x4s.
It's hard being Liverpool's second strongest team but at least they have reached a final this season which is more than the Red half of the city has. David Moyes continues to deliver the goods against the oddsdespite the continued celebrity support of Claire Sweeney, Freddie Starr and Tom O'Connor.
Actual 2009-10 prices: £399-£586
What fans should offer: £500 just to see Tim Cahill, £750 to keep Marouane Fellaini at the club, £1,000 to speed up Mikel Arteta and Phil Jageilka's recoveries,£2,000 to keep hold of Moyes, £5,000 to do a double over Liverpool,£10,000 if it gets Rick Parry back at Anfield.
They escaped relegation on the final day last season and now they stand onthe verge of European qualification. All hail the avuncular Roy Hodgsonand his Craven Cottage marvels. Right on the Thames, Fulham's groundis a great place to watch a game.
Actual 2009-10 prices: £285-£799
What fans should offer: £10because they have an American called Clint and he's not THAT Americancall Clint, £300 plus a £50 surcharge to leave every match by punt,£500 to keep paying the debt to Chelsea for taking David Mellor offtheir hands, £1,000 in the hope you might get a seat next to celebrity fans Hugh Grand or Pierce Brosnan.
It'sbeen a roller-coaster season for 'Champions League hopefuls' Hull butwinning just two matches this year has rather put a crimp in it. TheTigers are falling faster than the interest rate and look doomed - butyou never know.
Actual 2009-10 prices: £380-£450
What fans should offer:An extra £5 per game as a Rugby League tax, £500 to make sure DavidLloyd stays away, £1,000 so they get a free house with every season ticket.
It'llbe 20 years without a title come 2010 and even though Rafa Benitez has made Liverpool far more competitive in the Premier League, the great sides of the 70s and 80s hated being second best.
Current prices: £650 - £750. Next season TBC
What fans should offer: Nothing- they were beaten in Europe by Chelsea, knocked out of the FA Cup byEverton, lost in the League Cup to Tottenham and were held at home inthe Premier League by Stoke, Fulham and Manchester City, £500 if it means ITV will tape over the goal that knocked them out of the FA Cupwith adverts, £1,000 to seal the door to Rick Parry's office forever, £10000 if it gets rid of the feuding American owners.
The Blue half of Manchester is basking in mid-table safety, hardly thestuff of dreams for a club so wealthy. Last season's Sven footballingfiesta , a double over United and Benjani's 25-mile-wide smile havebeen replaced by the Robinho sideshow, two losses to Fergie and amiserable away record.
Current prices: £388 - £626. Next season TBC
What fans should offer: Nothing - they're the world's richest club and should get in for free until they actually win something worth paying for.
The team that could have won the Quintuple might have to made do with a Quadruple instead. No shame there. Yes, we all love to hate Ronaldo,yes we all love to scoff at Fergie's rubbish goal celebrations, yes they're London's favourite club, but Manchester United will equal Liverpool's League titles total this season and could move to withinone European Cup as well.
Actual 2009-10 prices: £513-£931
What fans should offer: Theprice of a ticket minus the cost of the train fare from London, £1,000to keep Ronaldo, £2,000 to keep Ronaldo and Tevez, £3,000 to keep Fergie's smirk at the expense of a ranting Rafa.
Boro'snumber looks up - just 26 League goals all season has seen to that -but at least in Steve GIbson they have a wily chairman who won't bepressing the detonate button on manager Gareth Southgate just yet. Theyare always going to be the most unfashionable North-East club no matterhow hard they try but at least Steve McClaren's gone.
Actual 2009-10 prices: £370-£525
What fans should offer: £500to buy 20 goals before the season starts, goals that can used at anytime of the season to convert draws to wins, etc, £1,000 to implant bionics into Bernie Slaven and get him leading the line again, all their worldly goods and possessions to get Afonso Alves away from Teesside.
The Fog on the Tyne has been a real pea-souper this season and the manager's door at St James' Park has been of the revolving kind. Thefact that Hull and Boro are so poor will keep the Magpies up, notfootballing excellence, and surely 50,000 week-in, week-out Toon diehards deserve farbetter than that.
Actual 2009-10 prices: £300-£598
What fans should offer: Nothing- remember Dennis Wise?, £150m to buy out Mike Ashley, get some prideback in the city and wipe the smile off Sunderland faces.
From FA Cup Winners to the Championship in one easy step? Possibly butunlikely as Pompey's wobble on the pedestal continues. Staying up willcompound the joy felt by Southampton's relegation to the third tier,something not even Terry Fenwick could emulate while at Fratton Parkdespite his best efforts - but is it really enough just to laugh atSaints' misfortune? Yes, it is.
Actual 2009-10 prices: £500-£900
What fans should offer: £1,000to help fund a huge billboard outside Southampton's ground, bearingPompey's next home match 'Manchester United' with Saints clash againstYeovil alongside, and the phrase 'just one division above BurtonAlbion' across the top.
The long-throw merchants have survived in the top flight by making The Britannia Stadium a fortress. Hooray for Nick Hancock, boo to Robbie Williams and all cheer Tony Pulis for keeping a proper football club upwhere they belong.
Current prices: £334 - £499. Next season TBC
What fans should offer:£5 tax to fund local rivals Crewe and Port Vale in their basementmini-league, £500 to make sure Rory Delap's throwing arms never gettired, £1,000 to ensure the remote-controlled balls he launches continueto find their way into the six-yard box.
Stillon the cusp of relegation, the Black Cats need three points to exorcisethe ghost of Roy Keane forever. It's not been pretty at the Stadium ofLight and if they do stay up, big Mick McCarthy's Wolves will begunning for them next season with a point to prove, but finishing aboveNewcastle and Middlesbrough to be the North East's premier club ishardly the stuff of legend.
Actual 2009-10 prices: £350-£465
What fans should offer: Nothing.Over 40,000 fans have endured a season of gloom and despondency andthey deserve a freebie - and throw in a stripey shirt and a picture ofBob Stokoe.
Football was fun with Spurs bottom of the Premier League and breaking recordsfor awfulness with every passing week.
Then Daniel Levy spoiled thingsby sacking Juande Ramos and bringing in Harry Redknapp. Now in the huntfor a European spot, Tottenham also reached the League Cup Final. Harryhas got them playing and get ready for a huge prima-donna flushing outin the summer.
Actual 2009-10 prices: £622-£1,640
What fans should offer: Nothingif David Bentley still has a squad number, £100 if Gilberto and Dos Santos are still there, £1,000 to seal a double over Arsenal, £25,000 toclaim a Champions League place at the Gunners' expense.
Manager Tony Mowbray has won a lot of friends this season for refusing toabandon his footballing principles in the
pursuit of Premier Leaguepoints. Sadly, the Championship looms large now but at least they arestill with a chance of staying up with two games to go. It's hard tohate the Baggies even though celebrity fan Adrian Chiles does present The One Show.
Actual 2009-10 prices: £299-£399
What fans should offer: Whatever the club wants to ensure the prudent Throstles get back to the top flight where they belong - remember how great Cyrille Regis and Laurie Cunningham were? And it would be greatto see the West Midlands have four teams in the Premier League.
They may be forever blowing bubbles but at least Hammers fans do havesomething to be rabid about at last. Gianfranco Zola has conquered the Upton Park Chelsea haters by producing a hard-to-beat attractive sidewho are a only a couple of players away from being a genuine force inthe Premier League. Or a called-in debt away from a ten-point deductionand life in the second tier. You decide.
Actual 2009-10 prices: £570-£810
What fans should offer: £800 if it keeps the Academy going, £1,000 if it keeps Millwall two divisions below them, £2,500 because of Sir Trev, £5,000 to ensure the Bobby Moore Statue outside the groundstays in pristine condition
The pie capital of Europe has been transformed from a Rugby Leaguestronghold to a footballing hotbed. Steve Bruce has performed another miracle. And they said it would never happen.
The Latics have not beentouted as relegation fodder once this season despite a recent wretchedrun of form. Dave Whelan deserves all the plaudits for what he's doneto a club he bought in the fourth tier 14 years ago.
Actual 2009-10 prices: £250-£295
What fans should offer: £250as long as they get their weight in pies every match, £500 if thehalf-time entertainment is Mido v Zaki, £1000 if it clinches a Leaguewin against one of the Big Four, £2,000 to help restore the Pier.