Matthew Bazzell of the Arsenal Black Scarf Movement was one of five fans representatives who were yesterday granted a meeting Premier League chairman Richard Scudamore. Here, he reveals how it went...
As you would expect, Richard Scudamore is impressive in a Tony Blair sort of way. He looks you in the eye when you speak to him and is tactful and considered in his responses.
I asked how he personally felt about the fact that so many fans had been priced out of football. In other words - did it bother or in any way or upset him that the ‘gentrification’ of football comes with a price. He looked a bit put off by the question and stopped looking me in the eye. The jist of his reply was – no – not as long as stadiums were full.
We are realists and doubt if yesterday will achieve very much. Here are my conclusions:
- Home ticket pricing is unlikely to change because currently most clubs are well attended.
- Away ticket pricing however is becoming a worrying issue for the Premier League.
Scudamore is slightly concerned that away attendances are down by around 9 per cent because he wants to sell a TV package to the world which boasts full stadiums.
The five reps who met him were fans of clubs who get charged grade A prices for virtually all away games. The point was made that following a rich club does not mean you are rich yourself. Why should we pay grade A prices to watch teams who are categorised as grade C when they come to our home grounds?
Scudamore told us that the clubs we support represent the top end of ticket pricing and implied that generally things were good elsewhere. I challenged him on this because most fans I talk to would dispute this. Before we entered the Premier League offices we were confronted by a fan from Brighton, a Championship club, who told us that he had enough of the cost and was on the brink of giving the game up. Dissatisfaction over ticket prices goes way beyond the Premier League and on our march yesterday there were more fans from Leicester City than Chelsea or West Ham.
The Manchester United rep brought up the impact high ticket pricing has on atmosphere. Vocal fans are priced out while those who pay resent what they have had to fork out - so instead of singing, they fold their arms and expect to get value for money. Whatever Scudamore says, the typical English football ground now lacks noise, passion and energy.
Scudamore tried to be positive and brought up the fact that most clubs have frozen their prices for this coming season. But this simply does not wash because it is a freeze on something which is already obscenely overpriced. Even if clubs reduce prices by £20 many people could still not afford them. Some supermarkets put their prices up, only to put them down a week later and boast of a saving. Overall, Scudamore’s main message was that he had no say on the issue and for us to go and talk to our clubs.
You can follow Matthew Bazzell on Twitter @MatthewBazzell