The Premier League clubs who have taken a lead in reducing away ticket prices were asked why they are charging booking fees which typically earn them £1.50 per ticket when they sell their allocation, compounding cost problems for travelling fans.
At least four leading clubs – Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea – impose booking fees of up to three per cent of the face value of away tickets, with supporters being given no option to pick up tickets from their club's ticket office. United charge a three per cent booking fee, which equates to an average add-on cost of £1.40 for their fans. In recent years the club have complained about the cost of Champions League tickets –£60 for the trip to Athletic Bilbao in last season's Europa League, for example – and still taken a booking fee.
Supporter organisations are reluctant to criticise clubs which have engaged fully with fans in recent months, ahead of announcing how they will use £200,000 each to reduce the costs of away travel under a new Premier League scheme. But the booking fees are a potential next target.
Of the five clubs who had not revealed how they would be spending their £200,000 they are compelled to invest in reducing away travel costs, Manchester City said last night that they are planning to introduce half-price away tickets to their season card holders at selected games this season. West Ham United said the issue is still under discussion. Everton said they may make an announcement today. West Bromwich Albion and Southampton did not respond to inquiries. There had been an agreement that the Football Supporters' Federation would be informed of clubs' plans by 30 September.
Newcastle United earned widespread praise for their plans, revealed by The Independent, to introduce reciprocal pricing, whereby a reduction for visiting fans to St James' Park would be matched by a partner club. Manchester United are reducing ticket prices for their own travelling fans, but that does not discourage clubs throughout the Premier League from making matches against them "Category A" and inflating prices for the club's supporters. Newcastle, arguably the most enlightened club in the top flight on pricing, on average find that other clubs hike prices by £10 when the north-east team visit.