Norwich City’s season ticket price rise is difficult to justify
- Credit: Dave Rawcliffe/Focus Images Ltd
As news items go it was written in a breathtakingly audacious way at which the big-six energy companies could only marvel.
After all, they’re organisations that know a thing or two about continually increasing their charges.
When Norwich City announced their 2013/14 season-ticket prices last Wednesday on their website I struggled in vain to find the words “price” or “increase”.
Now whether or not you feel rises are justified, the club could at least be a bit more up front about things.
Rather than the repeated use of phrases such as “best possible prices”, they could have admitted they were actually increasing them.
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Despite Look East and Anglia’s unerring ability to always find some embarrassing characters whenever they do vox-pops in the middle of Norwich, we’re not all stupid – we can understand the concept of prices going up.
If it was a nailed-on certainty that City were going to be playing Championship football next season I can see that they’d need every available source of funding.
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But when you’re on the brink of sharing in a vastly-enhanced domestic television deal the fact that you’re trying to take even more money off your supporters stinks, in my opinion.
On an individual club level, the Canaries could have looked back to 2003/4 and 2009/10 and decided to reward their supporters for past loyalty when things were tough.
That, to me, is what “our club is run rather like a co-operative” should mean.
Given that you can take “owned collectively and managed for just economic benefit” as a definition for co-operative, I don’t think hiking up prices in a not particularly wealthy part of the country during a recession when plenty of people won’t have had any pay increase, never mind anything like the 6pc extra I’m now being asked to pay, exactly qualifies.
If this club is “run rather like a co-operative”, perhaps we can have some sort of loyalty system for regular supporters.
How about a discount on the not-exactly-value-for-money programme or being given free admission to pre-season friendlies?
The amount raised from these prices increases is a drop in the ocean of Premier League television riches.
Let’s say you make £1m. That’s a figure in the Championship which could land you a signing which might make all the difference between bouncing straight back or staying down for a second season.
In the Premier League it would pay a journeyman striker £20,000 a week despite the fact that they might not get you many goals, but in transfer terms it wouldn’t even buy you all of one of Gary Hooper’s limbs. It simply won’t have any real impact.
One might also suggest that the academy donation is designed to provide funds that could be found from within the Carrow Road budget.
To me, it smacks of the club’s desire to control every aspect of footballing life in Norwich. What was wrong with having a voluntary body out with the club raising funds for this exact purpose?
I used to buy Foncy raffle tickets, but after not reclaiming my season-ticket rebate in 2009 I won’t be making this donation.
When all’s said and done though, the club know that they can get away with this. A policy of making casual seats much more expensive than season tickets means that most people will renew simply because it’s become so cost-effective.
Even if you only go to half the games it’s worth your while. And then there’s the saving of all that hassle of actually obtaining tickets as well.
So although the club don’t tend to issue any immediate renewal figures it’s a fair bet that more than 90pc will eventually renew.
And as for those who can’t – or choose not to – well, that’s modern football, even if they were loyal supporters who stuck by the club during the dismal 2007/8 and 2008/9 seasons.
• WEEKEND COULD HAVE BEEN A GREAT DEAL WORSE
A dismal result on Saturday, but I can live with a scoreline like that at Anfield.
Lose 5-0 at QPR and that would be cause for concern, but when you start losing players such as Sebastien Bassong at Liverpool and also have only one forward it was always going to be one hell of an uphill battle.
The weekend could have been a whole lot worse.
Both Aston Villa and QPR sacrificed winning positions, so they’ll see draws as scant rewards, while it was a disastrous result for Newcastle.
We’ve suffered a recent double whammy of injuries coupled with playing a lot of the top eight.
But Saturday wasn’t a fixture which will decide our future – better to concede goals like that at Anfield rather than at home to Aston Villa, Fulham, Reading, Southampton or Swansea, say. By which time you’d also hope that we’re able to welcome the likes of Bassong and Whitaker back into defence
nInteresting that it wasn’t just on the field that City appeared to be suffering from second-season syndrome – there was a much lower away following than a year ago.
It might have been the bad weather, the ticket prices or the cost of cost-country travel on this particular occasion, but you suspect that if City fans get a third season of Premier League football the only way it’ll be hard to get an away ticket is if the club deliberately take a low allocation.
• HATTERS NOT AS ‘MINNOW’ AS SOME MIGHT THINK
On the back of our current league run, even I – someone who dearly always wants to see the Canaries have a decent FA Cup run – might normally be prepared to sacrifice a place in the fifth round for a few crucial points.
But this isn’t a normal cup tie.
What with plenty of meetings with Luton over the years, it doesn’t at all feel like a league versus non-league meeting – taking on Macclesfield would have been a very different prospect, for example.
But that’s what it is – and the embarrassment potential is unlimited.
There have been only six post-war cases of old Division One clubs losing to non-league opposition, and the most recent of those was Coventry’s loss at Sutton in 1989.
So nothing in the Premier-League era then, and can you imagine the likely headlines were such a thing to happen at Carrow Road this Saturday? They don’t bear thinking about.
In the past Manchester United’s failure’s to beat then-Conference sides Exeter or Burton at the first time of asking might have provided some short-term red faces, but were City to take Luton too lightly and lose it would set an unwanted Premier League record which would be a stain on the career of anyone involved this Saturday.
Unlike past non-league Cup opposition – Paulton Rovers, say – we are not facing a team of butchers, bakers and candlestick makers.
Luton are a full-time operation who can make life difficult for us if we do not show the same levels of professionalism seen at Peterborough in the third round.
• WHAT IS IT ABOUT TV AND SUNDERLAND?
So, another Sunderland match selected for live screening by Sky. That’s five in a row now. It simply defies belief. Who makes these decisions?
If recent league meetings are anything to go by it could be a comfortable and forgettable home win. It’s a game that won’t be of real significant interest elsewhere.
You can make a much better case for any of our other three fixtures in March being selected – the visit to Old Trafford simply because it’s Manchester United, while Southampton at home and Wigan away could both have a huge bearing on the relegation picture.