David McNally defends Norwich City pricing for FA Cup tie with Luton Town
David McNally has defended Norwich City’s cup ticket pricing – over the bizarre allegation of seats being too cheap.
The visit of high flying Blue Square Conference outfit Luton Town to Carrow Road in the FA Cup fourth round later this month will cost adults £10 and those under 16 £1 for the privilege.
And some Hatters fans believe those prices will deprive their club of the bumper pay day that facing Premier League opposition should bring.
Gate receipts from FA Cup ties are divided equally between the two clubs and while both sides discuss proposed prices, it is the hosts that have the final say.
Luton were making no official comment on Wednesday but it is clear they had been pushing for higher ticket prices for the tie, which takes place on January 26. They have been given the 15pc allocation of 4,000 tickets they are entitled to under FA Cup rules.
“I’m really surprised anybody is frustrated when clubs are offering tremendous value for money to supporters of both clubs for an FA Cup tie,” said McNally.
“We thought long and hard about what the pricing policy should be. The prices have gone down really well with our supporters and I’m sure they have gone down really well with the majority of Luton Town supporters.
“We look at the competition, the round and our opponents – who are doing very well but are non-league opponents. We also take into account past experience and we’ve had plenty of cup ties at Carrow Road this year – some we priced effectively, others we perhaps made a mistake on.
“We had a good run in the Capital One Cup and now we’ve got another home tie in another competition, and we also need to take into account economic conditions. It’s not easy out there, cash is really hard to come by and this game will be played prior to the first monthly payroll after Christmas. So we don’t think most people have lots of spare cash.
“But ultimately we price every game with a desire to fill Carrow Road.”
The Canaries have admitted getting their pricing wrong previously this season, when £30 adult tickets for Tottenham’s League Cup fourth round visit in October were roundly criticised by City fans. The game was played in front of less than half Carrow Road’s home supporter capacity.
But McNally did not feel criticism was due of City’s policy this time around and that Luton will benefit from a packed stadium.
“I know how to make money and I know how the money works, and I can assure you that our pricing policy in selling out Carrow Road will be much better for Luton Town and for Norwich City than it would be if we got the prices wrong as with Tottenham,” added McNally.
“We believe a full Carrow Road will produce as high a return as possible for Luton Town compared to the place being half empty with tickets at £20 and lots of disgruntled supporters saying that Norwich City have got the prices wrong again.”
The Hatters, who are pushing for promotion back to the Football League this season after a three-year absence, have made significant progress since the financial crisis that saw them sink from top-flight hopefuls into non-league action – a point backed by last week’s signing of York City’s Jonathan Smith for £50,000.
Following the ticket price announcement, Luton confirmed some fans had criticised how cheap they were – “We have received feedback from supporters indicating they believe the club is losing money with Norwich’s pricing policy,” said Luton’s statement – and moved to help them make up for any perceived shortfall.
In response the club has devised a system for fans to make an additional £5 donation to Luton’s youth development programme along with their ticket.
The Canaries have experienced their own financial issues over recent seasons, but it is a moot point how far English football’s elite clubs have a duty to help out those below.
“We are very mindful of the football family and we are conscious of trying to help as many clubs as he can within the region,” added McNally.
“We are conscious of the importance of looking after them and let’s not forget three years ago we were not in the best financial health ourselves, so where we can we will help. But we think we have got it right here.”