On the day that football supporters marched on the headquarters of the Premier League and the Football League to protest against the rising cost of tickets, Newcastle United announced they had struck a deal for reciprocal pricing on away tickets for the new campaign.
The Football Supporters’ Federation says the fans’ anger stems from prices rising far faster than the rate of inflation. Members of supporters’ clubs from various Premier League sides were due to meet the top flight’s chief executive, Richard Scudamore, to discuss their concerns.
But Newcastle announced a deal with Southampton, a trip that would be one of longest for their travelling support, so that away fans for both fixtures between the clubs will pay only £25 for adults (£5 for under-18s and over-65s) compared to last year’s original prices of £37 and £22.
That agreement was followed by another deal with Stoke City whereby adults would pay only £20 and concessions £5.
Newcastle had led the way with the innovative scheme last season after the Premier League set up a fund of £12m. Every every top-flight club put aside £200,000 each season to make games more affordable for away fans.
The fund was established as a result of the Football Supporters’ Federation’s “Twenty’s Plenty” petition, which called for away tickets to cost no more than £20.
Aston Villa have also set up a subsidy for tickets to a minimum of five away games this season, and have arranged for free coach travel to midweek games against five of their most distant opponents.
Their own reciprocal agreement, which includes the two games against Hull City, will mean adults will pay £25 and juniors £10. Villa will pursue similar deals with other clubs.
In addition, travelling fans will receive a £15 voucher which can be redeemed against the cost of a home ticket or merchandise.
Meanwhile it was revealed that Arsenal failed to fill an average of 6,550 seats at each game at the Emirates Stadium last season. The club’s policy, in line with many others such as Manchester United, is to declare how many tickets they have sold for each game rather than how many seats were occupied.
A Freedom of Information request to the Metropolitan Police Service in London showed that the Met recorded an average attendance of 53,788 at the 60,338-capacity ground for all matches, an occupancy of 89.1 per cent compared with the figure of 99.1 per cent given by the club. Hence there was a total of 173,945 empty seats over the course of the season.
An FOI request to Greater Manchester Police revealed that the force had similarly recorded considerably smaller crowds at Old Trafford than Manchester United posted. In one case the disparity was almost 25,000.