Difficult decision over Norwich City’s season ticket prices

By this time last year Norwich City fans had already had at least a month to digest the planned season ticket prices for 2011-12 and make a decision on whether to sign up. In the end a staggering 20,000-plus decided to do so.

On the face of it, it would be easy to argue that as long as Norwich stay in this division, fans should expect a price rise.

The basic marketing model of supply and demand would suggest that while Carrow Road continues to be full week in week out, the powers that be can afford to increase prices.

It might also be argued that this season’s rates were set on the basis of another year in the Championship – and didn’t rise once promotion was secured – so should do now.

A more cynical way of describing it might be that Norwich should make the most of their current success while they can. Make hay while the sun shines.

However, where there’s a boom, there is all too often a bust, something which rings even more true in these more austere times.

McNally and Co need to consider that almost every one of its supporters is facing rising costs elsewhere in their lives during what continues to be a very tough economic time.

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And it’s often at these times that people start to reconsider the luxuries in life – and following Norwich City is certainly one of those. The club has no way of knowing at which point families will feel the need to go through the heartbreaking conversation in which they try to explain to their Canary-mad son or daughter they can no longer make such regular trips to Carrow Road.

There’s also no way of knowing whether, should we stay up, the appeal of the Premier League will wane during a second term. That has, after all, happened to other clubs in this league.

One thing is for certain, there can’t be a Norwich City fan out there who feels they have enjoyed anything less than value for money in the last two and a half seasons. But does that automatically mean the money they pay should rise?

Even this can be turned around by the fact it wasn’t so long ago so many fans stuck by the club through thin, hoping to see a return to thick. And then of course there was also the great season ticket rebate, which all those who were dead set against it would do well to remember paid for a certain Mr Grant Holt to sign on. I hope that before the final decision was made the club took a long hard look at how prices compare to other teams in the league.

That’s exactly what I did and the results left me somewhat surprised.

I decided to compare the price of a season ticket in the equivalent to the Barclay Stand at all 19 other top flight grounds for the 2011/12 season.

The results showed that Norwich fans currently pay the ninth highest season ticket prices for that area in the league.

It’s cheaper to follow Norwich than clubs like QPR, Manchester United, Sunderland and Newcastle, but not Manchester City, Everton, Aston Villa – and pretty much all the struggling North West teams.

There’s one easy explanation for this – and that goes back to supply and demand. Many of the clubs offering cheaper prices do so because they sell few season tickets and are desperate to attract more custom.

I also did a quick comparison of how prices compare for under-21s. The cheapest under-21 ticket for Carrow Road this season was �61 or �36 for under-12s.

To be honest, this compared really well with other clubs and only Swansea, Stoke, Wolves, Bolton, Aston Villa and Blackburn appeared to provide such family-friendly deals.

What I found really interesting was the idea that you could use the table of prices, compared with a club’s league position, to evaluate value for money provided by clubs. Could you argue, for instance, that QPR provide the worst value for money because they sell the fifth highest priced season ticket but are currently 18th in the league? On the flipside, do Stoke fans get a better deal because they have the fourth cheapest season ticket to watch a team in eighth position?

And does the old adage ‘You get what you pay for’ ring true for Blackburn, Wigan and Bolton fans, who pay the cheapest amounts to watch the worst teams?

Speaking to Norwich fans on Twitter it seemed that they were prepared to consider a small price rise, but nowhere near as high as six per cent announced by some clubs last season.

Personally I’d say that rings true for me too. At the minute I pay an average of �18.41 per game and it would be good to keep that below the �20 threshold.

At the minute we provide the ninth most expensive ticket, but the team is ninth in the league. Pretty good value for money there, then.

Well how about some sort of payment by results method where Norwich fans pay more the higher up the league we finish and vice versa? Mr McNally it’s over to you.

• Season ticket prices behind the goal (League positions in brackets)

1 (5) Arsenal �951

2 (7) Liverpool �725

3 (3) Tottenham �690

4 (4) Chelsea �595

5 (18) QPR �549

6 (2) Man Utd �532

7 (6) Newcastle �450

8 (12) Sunderland �435

9 (9) Norwich �423

10 (1) Man City �405

11 (11) Everton �399

12 (15) West Brom �399

13 (10) Swansea �383

14 (14) Fulham �379

15 (16) Wolves �370

16 (13) Aston Villa �360

17 (8) Stoke �344

18 (19) Bolton �285

19 (20) Wigan �250

20 (17) Blackburn �225

• What a difference a few weeks can make. As has happened so often with players under Paul Lambert, one minute Steve Morison looks completely off form, then he’s given a bit of a break and comes back with aplomb. One of our manager’s best traits is that no player is ever able to rest on his laurels or get complacent. Keep the noise down about it but Morison has arguably become our most prized asset.

• Want a clue as to why Blackpool went down despite having the same number of points at the same stage this time last year? Well the names James Beattie, Sergei Kornilenko, Andy Reid and Salaheddine Sbai tell you all you need to know. Desperate for help to keep them going they plumped for two has-been and two never-have-beens in the January transfer window, none of whom had the quality required in the Premier League. The problem is it took the manager several games to find this out, by which time the rot had started. I suspect that provides as much explanation as anything why Lambert is reluctant to simply buy for the sake of it.

• Anyone else pick up on West Bromwich Albion manager Roy Hodgson’s ridiculous pre-Saturday comments about television crews not filming gaffers? Irate that footage of Hodgson repeatedly banging his head against a dugout in frustration had become what we like to call ‘a youtube sensation’, he told how cameras should only be allowed to focus on what goes on on the field of play. What a ridiculous thing to say when I’m sure he’s paid handsomely enough to be able to cope with a little bit of ribbing. Did anyone else notice how regularly Match of the Day focused on him during the brief highlights of our game on Saturday? A bit of mischief making, I feel.