Thanks to Leicester City’s fairy-tale run at the top of the Premier League this season will be remembered on the pitch as one of the most exciting ever. However, off the pitch the season has hit a more sour note. The season has been dogged by arguments about spiraling ticket prices that has left many fans fearing they will be priced out of the game they love. Today Hull City have announced plans they believe will solve this problem once and for all.
The row over ticket prices reached a head on Saturday 6th February when we saw what will go down as one the lasting images of the season. In a pre-planned protest at the club raising the highest match-day ticket price from £59 to £77 and unveiling a new £1000 season ticket, Liverpool fans decided enough was enough and staged the first walkout in the club’s 132-year history in the 77th minute. It is estimated that upwards of 10,000 of the 44, 179 supporters in attendance took part in the walkout. This meant they missed the on-field capitulation which saw Liverpool surrender a two-goal lead against relegation stragglers Sunderland to draw the match 2-2.
Although, the match will be remembered for more than the result. In what can be described as a clear victory for fan power, Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group announced a few days later that they were scrapping the proposed changes.
The success for the fans in their bitter struggle doesn’t end there as just last week the Premier League announced a 3-season cap on away ticket prices that will begin as the start of next season. This means that no travelling supporter will pay more than £30 to watch their team in the Premier League. Some clubs have even taken this one step further. For example, Arsenal has promised a £4 discount to all its supporters, meaning no travelling Arsenal fans or visitors to the Emirates will par more than £26 for a ticket.
Now though, Hull City are set to revolutionize a system that has been at the heart of football for generations. Their owner Assem Allam has announced that the club is seeking to replace season tickets with a new membership scheme.The Tigers are seeking to bring down costs for their fans. Currently the club’s cheapest season ticket is the costliest in the Championship (£531) while their most expensive ticket is priced at £606.
The proposals are for a three tier membership scheme that will be paid for for on a monthly basis. The cheapest of these memberships will be available for £21 a month. The scheme will dramatically reduce ticket prices for supporters as if they were to remain in the Championship next season prices could be a low as £11 per match and even if the club are promoted the Premier League, tickets would be available for as little as £13 a match. This would give Hull undoubtedly the cheapest tickets in the top flight should they get there. To put this into perspective an adult ticket to Hull’s next home fixture against Bristol City costs £27.
The club claim that the new scheme could see some supporters save as much as £282. Mr Allam added “The membership scheme is about rewarding the supporters for their fundamental part in this remarkable story and ensuring that, wherever the team start their new campaign, the club and the fans will be doing it together.”
With many football clubs now trying to find ways to get their fans back onside, they may well be watching Hull to gauge how successful such a scheme turns out to be. If successful, the way you buy football tickets could be about to change forever and if it brings down costs it will surely be for the better.