Blackburn's cheap seats policy pays dividends

Talking Point
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The Independent Football

Paul Scholes will not have been the only Oldham Athletic supporter to be concerned when Wayne Rooney was injured in midweek.

Those Latics fans who have already bought a season ticket for next season have a lot riding on England's World Cup prospects as the club have promised a full refund on any ticket purchased by 29 May if Fabio Capello's side win the tournament.

The scheme is one of many innovative ways clubs are countering the impact of the recession and trying to fill their grounds. The best method, however, is the old-fashioned price cut and the Premier League's best was announced this week. Blackburn Rovers' new adult season tickets start at £209; £11 a match. That is not only the lowest in the division, it is cheaper than most Football League clubs. Barnsley, at £299 (£13 a game), believe they offer the best deal in the Championship and only a handful of clubs in Leagues One and Two will be lower than Rovers.

Rovers' season tickets were £10-a-match this season. They sold nearly 20,000 and, with Manchester United, Everton and Arsenal still to visit Ewood Park, already average crowds of over 25,000, up 6.5 per cent on last season, the highest in seven years.

There will be those who argue that £11 is about right to watch a Sam Allardyce side, and that Ewood Park is still one-fifth empty, but the initiative is to be applauded, and has been rewarded with an impressive home record. "The impact is massive," Allardyce said, "the evidence is in our results."

Elsewhere, Sunderland charge £49 for juniors, while many Football League clubs allow children in for free, though ages vary. Yet there are still clubs with high prices and empty seats. They should wake up. Add in the incidental spending, on merchandise and food, of the extra fans, and cutting prices adds up.