The Premier League’s 20 clubs will consider a cashback loyalty scheme for travelling fans as an alternative to the £30 ticket price cap, in an attempt to break the embarrassing deadlock over away ticket prices.
The failure of club chairmen last week to reach the two-thirds majority required to impose a cap is understood to stem from a philosophical division over whether chief executive Richard Scudamore’s organisation should have any form of central control over the prices clubs charge.
A number of clubs feel there should be no central control, but the Premier League does believe there is a big enough consensus on the issue to ensure that away ticket price reductions will be announced ahead of the new £5.1bn TV deal kicking in next season.
One of a number of options before club chairmen meet again next month will be a cashback scheme, allowing supporters to accumulate credit up to a substantial sum – possibly £200 – by following their club away. They would then be able to cash that in for vouchers, bringing substantial reductions in the costs of matches they subsequently choose to attend away from home.
The attraction of this option is that it would not involve the Premier League – which admits that a breakthrough in away ticket reductions should have been achieved by now – imposing a price from the centre.
The idea of a centrally imposed £30 cap is not dead in the water. It is thought quite possible that clubs, who will be more aware than ever of the need for a breakthrough after the furore of the past week, will actually settle upon the across-the-board figure. The challenge for the Premier League as an organisation is to resolve the differences of individual clubs on this issue.
Those clubs who believe vehemently that capping is the solution are understood to be resistant to alternatives. That is creating resistance to quadrupling or quintupling the £200,000 a season a club must invest in an away match pot – and imposing a new stipulation that up to £1m generated by each club must be used exclusively on away ticket subsidies.
There is thought to be frustration within the Premier League organisation that a solution which suits at least 14 clubs – the mandate required for action – cannot be reached despite most clubs agreeing that the problem should have been resolved by now.
Liverpool’s fans, who secured a walkout of 15,000 fans over £77 home tickets, have published new images of a grossly restricted view they claim is being offered holders of the £9-a-game tickets on offer to children, as part of the stadium ticketing arrangements. At least a third of the pitch area is obscured.
Football Supporters’ Federation chairman Malcolm Clarke said the controversy over price increases at Liverpool may secure a breakthrough on away prices. But he said he did not believe a united campaign to force down home prices would work, despite the walkout at Anfield.
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