2014/15 Season tickets: Are they a price worth paying?
The season ticket and matchday prices for the 2014/15 campaign at the County Ground were unveiled last week. Ron Smith gives his annual take on the prices…
Swindon Town chairman Lee Power has confirmed an increase of £1.09 per game will essential to “operate within our means” as the club “continues with our sustainable model”. The headline figures are an increase for season ticket renewals in the side stands from £350 to £375, where an increase from £320 to £345 awaits for Town Enders. Full-price tickets have also increased by £25 each. Junior and young adult tickets remain at an inordinately high price, while the cost of a family of four watching the Reds is now an eye watering £900.
Matchday ticket prices are the main change as these home fixtures will be divided into bronze, silver or gold categories (£23, £25 and £27 per game); presumably gold for Cardiff City, silver for Middlesbrough and bronze for Doncaster right..? If the games are divided equally into those categories it will mean that the matchday cost will not actually rise if you were mad enough to purchase an individual ticket for all 23 games; however, increased attendances to games in the gold categories will yield a greater financial return to the club than previously.
The cost of season ticket prices in the side stands has remained relatively flat over the past 10 years, not “spiraling” as some claim. The cost for a new season ticket holder is slightly lower than the £436 between 2004-2006, however the renewal price has substantially increased since 2011/12 and there is now a marginal early-bird saving of £40 compared to the full-price – this compares to a massive £140 saving in 2011/12.
While the Town End is a stand oozing atmosphere, however the sightlines are woeful, yet the renewal price remains only £30 less than the Arkells and Don Rogers. Supporters wishing to purchase in the Town End have been the hardest hit by numerous price rises over the years, from paying £195 to watch in 1994/95 to the current £385. The continual rises in prices in the Town don’t indicate that the club wants this stand to be regularly full and generating the atmosphere throughout the 90 minutes.
I know that I’ll renew. I can afford the extra £25, but perhaps there are a few, or even a hundred or so supporters whose decision to renew their season ticket by the end of March will not be so easy.
However, loyalty comes at a cost as the relative benefits of the season ticket is at the lowest level since the 2007/08 season. By calculating the number of matches a season ticket holder receives ‘free’ relative to the price of paying on the gate for every game, the benefits are at their lowest level for seven seasons for renewals and four years for new season ticket holders.
The table highlights how attracting supporters to purchasing season tickets has become a key strategy since the turn of the century. Throughout the 1990s the season ticket gained the buyer around three free games, yet by 2011/12 renewal holders could watch half of the games at the County Ground for ‘free’. Of course, while this table highlights the increasing value of the season ticket to holders, that has only become such a benefit owing to the doubling in the matchday ticket price in the period 1996 to 2014, of £12.50 to the current £25/27.
Andrew Black’s influence and finances fortunately allowed the club to provide attractive packages to new and existing season ticket holders between 2008-2012. This period was fueled by cash injections and equity as the income derived from supporters proved to be of less value. Attendance increased during that period and the football was largely successful, even relegation under Paul Hart was a ‘success’ in the manner of the abject failure that year. We all jumped on the bandwagon and season ticket holder numbers increased from circa 3,500 towards the 6,000 mark and have remained consistent over the past five or so years. But now with a change in strategy at the club who are really embarking on the sustainability model that Andrew Fitton employed, but without the financial backing, the early signs are that some discontent amongst supporters have led some to question their loyalty by renewing their season tickets.
A final table for you compares the value to supporters of their season ticket based on a renewal price in the Arkells or Don Rogers Stands. The cost is divided by the total league points won that season to give a crude indication of value compared to success on the pitch.
It has cost us an average of £4.71 per point to watch Town over the period 1994-2014 (excluding the data-less years). All the expected seasons of success (03/04, 09/10 and 11/12) offered good-value, but then so did a 19th placed finish under Steve McMahon in the Championship in 96/97.
In three of the four relegations suffered in this sample the cost exceeds in excess of £6 per point, however watching a relegated Town side was evidently better value for money in 94/95…
As for whether the 2014/15 prices are a price worth paying? That question can only be answered in May 2015.
By the way if you have the season ticket and matchday prices between 1998 and 2003 and prior to 1994 then get in touch