I’ve been a Manchester City Fan for over 25 years. It would be fair to say I’ve seen some ups and downs - and until a few years ago, mostly downs.
But Manchester City – and football as a whole – has changed beyond recognition since I first pulled on a blue shirt and stood at Maine Road.
Talk to any fan who loves going to football and ticket prices are a big issue. To my club’s credit, they have kept home ticket prices – especially for season ticket holders – under some sort of control. The chatter on the fan forums, websites and pubs has, in the past couple of seasons, focussed on the staggering cost of tickets for away games.
This weekend’s City game at Arsenal has brought to life this issue that threatens the very soul of English football. With tickets at the Emirates on sale at a toe-curling £62, City fans have voted with their wallets and will be staying this end of the M6 meaning the return of almost 1,000 away tickets.
City are guilty too, charging £50 or more for visitors to come to the Etihad. The only club I’ve been to where visiting fans didn’t feel like we were being fleeced was Wigan, weighing in at a not so shocking 30 quid, not bad for a club that actually turned a profit last year.
So I’ve started a Change.org petition calling on the Premier League to introduce at £30 cap on away ticket prices. This may be trivial to some – but to me it’s a crucial intervention that could make a real difference to the future of football.
The atmosphere in the stadium is one of the biggest attractions to fans going to football matches and something that has made the Premier League one of the best club competitions on the planet. Pricing ordinary fans out of away matches threatens this in a very real way.
We may make a difference, we may not. But what is certain is that the web gives football fans of all clubs the chance to come together and protect the game we love. It’s supposed to be the people’s game and lord knows we throw enough money at it to genuinely be able to call these our clubs. We owe it to ourselves to take a stand before it’s too late.