Let them eat cake: Refreshment prices at Carrow Road and other grounds

PUBLISHED: 12:06 04 September 2010 | UPDATED: 17:31 10 September 2010

'What we need,' said the editor, 'is an authentic piece of investigative journalism. A really hard hitting article that would not be out of place in the News of the World or the Volkischer Beobachter.'

By HAMILTON NEMO

“What we need,” said the editor, “is an authentic piece of investigative journalism. A really hard hitting article that would not be out of place in the News of the World or the Volkischer Beobachter.”

“OK Boss,” said I, “I will do some research and come up with an expose to lift the lid on the recent increase in the price of refreshments at Carrow Road.”

Is McNally the new Marie-Antoinette?

First stop Carrow Road, in the City stand. The new prices charged to punters at the refreshment kiosks prior to kick-off are:

Cup of Tea £2

Pie £2.50

Sausage Roll £2

Beer (Lager) £3.50

These prices have increased by about 25% compared to last season. Now I understand what Mr McNally meant last year when he talked about the increased financial revenues accruing if City were promoted. And I naively thought he meant increased revenue from TV appearances, gate receipts, and prize money!

I resolved to find out how these prices compare with other comparable outlets in the Fine City which compete for the hard earned pennies fans can afford to spend on comestibles. In Morrisons, which many fans pass on their way to the ground the prices of these items are Coffee £1.09, Sausage Roll 89p, Pie £3.29 (and it comes with chips, peas and gravy). Cheapest can of Lager 1.20.

The Co-Op at Thorpe Station where the trains disgorge trainloads of famished supporters, offers sustenance at very low prices. A pie is 75p and a sausage roll 57p. Both admittedly are sold cold. A can of lager is £1.20 and a coffee 89p.

Even In the “cholesterol special” fast food vans outside the ground, a cup of tea costs £1.50 and a burger or hot dog £3. And after an exhaustive but enjoyable sampling exercise in local pubs (there are some benefits to being a fearless investigative journalist) I can report that the cheapest pint within staggering distance of Carrow Road is the Wetherspoons pub on Riverside, aka the Queen of the Iceni, where a pint of Lager of your choice retails at £2.60.

And how do prices at Norwich compare to those at other clubs? At Watford a cup of tea costs only £1.10. A pint of lager (probably the best lager in the world) is £3.40, a matchday pie £3.20, and a sausage roll £2.50. At the Emirates Stadium a cuppa is £1.70, a pint of lager £3.70 and a pie a whopping £4. They don't do sausage rolls at the Arsenal. At Underhill (Barnet's ground) the fare on offer both on the pitch and in the tea hut, is more modest. A cup of tea is £1.50, a pint of lager £2.90, a pie £2.20 and a jumbo sausage roll £2.50.

And in my quest for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, I even donned dark glasses, a false beard, and a bogus Sheikh costume, adopted an affected Arab accent, kept my fingers crossed that no one would see through my disguise, and ventured boldly through the gates of hell into Poorman Road. I took my pet cat with me. I am pleased to report that no one saw through my disguise. In fact there very few people present at all since the attendance was well below 20,000. There was plenty of room to swing my cat, and indeed swinging the cat was much better fun (for both of us) than watching the unmentionables stumble to yet another bore draw at home to Burnley. Being true sportsbeings, my cat and I dutifully applauded Burnley's last minute equaliser. Most of the home supporters had left the ground by then.

On our way out of the ground, I noticed one lonely, brooding, unshaven Irishman savagely kicking his dog, muttering “bloody Jon Walters” in a barely comprehensible Cork accent as he did so. My cat (who doesn't like dogs) applauded this act. “He's keen” I thought. But I digress. At Poorman Road the prices of a pint is £3.40. A pie is £2.80 (but a special pie is £3.30). A cuppa is £2.

It would appear therefore that several football clubs charge more for refreshments than do local retail outlets. It seems that whilst Norwich has raised prices, the prices are not excessive, but merely in line with those charged by other clubs. We do not charge higher prices than our competitors.

Norwich is by no means the only club to take advantage of fans' loyalty and the fact that once inside the ground they are literally a captive audience, to charge them a higher price for snacks than those on offer outside the ground. The prices quoted above are for the simplest food and drink in the cheapest areas of the grounds. I hate to think how much is charged for a prawn sandwich in the top restaurants at Old Trafford (£700 million of debt to service and all contributions welcome) or for a meal in the gourmet restaurants at Stamford Bridge (divorce settlements are expensive these days), or Man City (just spent £130 million in transfer fees on new players, now all we have to do is pay their salaries), or Liverpool (new stadium and new team to be paid for, bank loan and two disgruntled former owners to be paid off).

So before setting out for Carrow Road for the match, and mindful of the Bank of England's remit to reduce inflation wherever possible, I asked myself, to tea or not to tea, that is the question. In the end I decided to boycott the official refreshment kiosks, to self cater, and save money by bringing my own sausage roll (£1 from Tescos) and flask of coffee (negligible costs).

In this age of austerity, if many more people follow my example and tighten their belts, the club's dream of increasing revenue from catering may prove to be no more than pie in the sky. Maybe the board will then be forced to eat humble pie...with no chips and no pint to wash it down.

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