Norwich City chief discusses Wigan pricing, Sky coverage and ‘phenomenal’ away supporters
- Credit: Tony Thrussell
Chief operating officer Ben Kensell has hailed the ‘phenomenal’ away support Norwich City have benefited from this season, as he explained full details of the trip to Wigan being shifted to a Sunday midday kick-off.
Due to the awkward early kick-off time in Greater Manchester, the Canaries have moved to subsidise tickets to half price for their away fans, to £7.50 for adults and £2.50 for under-18s, and taken £10 off coach travel to reduce the price to £20.
The move has been made to ensure City can fill as much of their 5,000 allocation as possible on Sunday, April 14, for what could be a crucial stage of the promotion race for Daniel Farke’s team.
“Firstly, it’s been phenomenal support all season away from home so it’s not just about Wigan,” Kensell explained at Carrow Road this morning.
“Wigan for us was a really significant fixture, it’s fourth from the end of the season, it could be a massive game in the run-in. But from our perspective we negotiated with Wigan straight up that we wanted the maximum allocation that we could possibly have.
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“We managed to secure the 5,000 then we managed to negotiate the price, to bring that down, because we know how hard it is for fans to travel up and down the country, they’ve done it with us in their thousands this season.
“So we got that price down to £15 for adults and we got together as a club and thought, what better way to endorse the away support than to subsidise that further.
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“The fact that it has moved to a Sunday means that we should subsidise travel, so what we’ve decided to do is to make it £7.50 for adults, £2.50 for U18s, and we’ve also subsidised travel as well.
“So it will be an early start and we’ll cheer the boys on, that’s what we really want.”
The game being chosen by Sky means the coaches will be leaving Carrow Road at 5am that morning – and that six of the next seven Norwich matches are being broadcast live by Sky Sports.
While figures vary and are not published immediately, games shown on Sky in recent seasons have been worth six figures for home clubs but more modest five-figure fees for away teams.
That run of televised games kicks off with Friday night’s Carrow Road clash with Swansea City, with clubs having minimal sway in the decision of games being moved.
“In all truth we’re blessed to have the level of broadcasting that we’re getting at the moment, it’s a real financial income stream for the football club,” Kensell continued.
“Equally, we want to be on Sky because we want to be promoting our talents on the pitch but more importantly showcase how well we’ve done this season.
“So it’s part and parcel of football, where I have some sympathy is the fans that need to get up very , very early to get a coach at 5am to get to Wigan, to ensure that they cheer the boys on.
“Let’s be honest, the players know the sacrifice that the fans make, as does Daniel (Farke) and all of us at the football club. If we can give back something, albeit small then we’ve done something that we think is worthwhile and effectively supports them.”
Another factor in Sky’s decision to select so many Canaries games is the entertainment factor, with only West Brom’s games have featured more (124) than the 116 goals scored during Norwich matches this season.
“It’s really entertaining, I think that has an impact,” City’s commercial chief said. “It obviously helps that we’re near the top of the league at the moment and fighting for the honours at the end of the season.
“But we’re playing really well and entertaining the fans inside the stadium, but also those that are watching (on TV), so credit to Stuart (Webber) and the boys for that – long may it continue.”
City have averaged over 1,600 aways fans from their 19 away games during this campaign, with over 3,200 enjoying the 3-1 victory at Millwall which took Farke’s team back to the top of the Championship table on Saturday.
Asked about the impact of that large following, Kensell said: “It was massive, there were moments when it could swing the other way and the away support, 3,200 filling that end, the first time that Millwall have allowed their lower tier to be open this season – and we think we probably could have sold it again. We’ve got some phenomenal support.
“So in Wigan we’re hoping that we can take the full 5,000, cheer the boys on, we think it’s a competitively priced fixture now for the fans.
“We as a football club are proud to be able to support our fans by being able to subsidise the travel and part of the cost of a ticket.”
One of the decisions made in conjunction with the announcement of subsidised pricing for the Wigan game is that the traditional ‘away supporters party’ held at Carrow Road will not be held.
Kensell explained: “Actually it’s unfortunate more than anything, because we’ve got 1,650 on average who are travelling away from home, logistically it’s become impossible for us to host an away supporters party.
“What we’re looking to do, and we’ve communicated with our away supporters who will be disappointed with this, is facilitate an event where they can exclusively meet the players but it will probably be in pre-season, because we can logistically deliver that.
“Whereas at this moment in time we can’t because there are so many people that would want to go that event.
“So it’s unfortunate but the Wigan game is our way of saying to all supporters, than you for your support, come and join us and hopefully cheer the boys on to a good result.”
• For further details, and to buy tickets, head to canaries.co.uk