Who would ever have guessed that Manchester City visit to the Emirates to play Arsenal was the tipping point for many supporters. The £62 ticket had arrived. The shock waves would reverberate throughout the game. £nough is £nough said the fans. A movement was born……………
A little over two years ago in the summer of 2013 the FSF launched its benchmark campaign to make “football affordable for the travelling fan” with “reciprocal” deals with opposition clubs, preferably capping tickets at £20.
Some two years later we attempt to rewind the tape, to the beginning to try and understand what if any progress has been made.
In the summer of 2013 a delegation from The Blue Union travelled down to London on a bright and sunny June morning. It was the day that all football supporters relish. The day the fixtures are released………
How ironic it was our opening game of the season was announced was Norwich away. A visit to Carrow Road is always one to look forward to for the well travelled supporter, however we didn’t expect to pay the extortionate £56 for the privilege.
The demo left Hyde Park bathed in sunshine with representatives from across the length and breadth of the country from throughout the whole of the football pyramid. We may have been divided by Club colours, however United by a good cause.
The delegation met the Premier League and a full and frank discussion ensued.Lots of points both parties agreed on……… others we didn’t. The pleasing thing was there was lots of common ground and a healthy respect towards each other. Jaw jaw rather than war war was always going reap dividends. Little did we know what was around the corner
It was somewhat surprising when In August the Premier League announced that £200,000 per club would be made available for the next three seasons. This money was to be spent on “enhancing the away fan experience.”
That equated to £4 million to be shared between all of the Premier League stakeholders on initiatives to enhance the away fan experience.
It wasn’t until October before Everton announced how it was going to spend its £200,000 per season. We had concerns when Everton spent a portion of this money on decorating St Lukes Church and on hiring Portaloos for the Fan Zone in the Park End. Our call was always going to be for the reduction in ticket prices would be the only way all traveling fans could win.
A number of quite high profile events ensued with ourselves and the Liverpool Supporters Union, Spirit of Shankly at the forefront of the campaign. Fans of other clubs became more confident and the campaign gathered momentum.
During the Everton Shareholders AGM in the Philharmonic Hall, Chair of The Blue Union, Dave Kelly asked Bill Kenwright if the club would be willing to enter into reciprocal agreements with clubs. He asked Bill ” would you prefer 700 Geordies paying £45 or 3,000 paying £20 ?”
At the start of the 2013-2014 season Everton contacted all of the other Premier League rivals asking if any of them would consider entering into reciprocal agreements. In total four clubs responded to Everton request. Newcastle United, Swansea City and A N other.
We entered into a reciprocal agreement with Newcastle and Swansea but sadly the tickets for our opening game of the season against Leicester had already gone on sale. The fourth club remains a mystery, Everton promised to share this with us, but haven’t.
Dialogue continued, it eventually reached the stage when the Premier League stopped challenging our arguments and agreed with most of our points. Meetings took place and on one occasion we took part in a conference call on a coach on the way to our mid-week game against Chelsea in February.
The Football Supporters Federation continued to put pressure on the Premier League and put forward the case that the new Broadcast agreement would enable the clubs to fund the “£20s plenty” demand that we had made. We met the Premier League Officials prior to their meeting with the Owners and Chairman. Richard Scudamore was going to individually present all the Stakeholders with our demands.
We reconvened later that afternoon. It was agreed in principle that all the individual clubs would meet locally with supporters groups between July and November to discuss the best way forward. It came as no surprise when the Premier Leagues Bill Bush informed the delegation from The Blue Union, and FSF National Council members Dave Kelly and Simon Magner that Robert Elstone wouldn’t meet with them.
The £5.3 billion broadcasting deal will be further enhanced later in the year when the Global Broadcasting deal is announced. All the clubs are due to receive a 70% uplift in the Broadcasting revenues so they can comfortably afford to make concessions of ticket prices.
Many of you will also be aware that all the Premier League clubs have received a £1.2millon windfall due to Norwich City’s return to the top flight. The Blue Union passed an emergency motion the FSF at its AGM calling for the clubs to spend this money on introducing the £20s plenty” a year early, rather than wait till the new broadcasting deal kicks in at the start of the 2016-2017 season.
Last week news reached us that Swansea City would not be entering into any reciprocal deals this year, but would be capping their away match tickets at £22, meeting the demands of the £20′s Plenty campaign.
This windfall, is an unexpected one. It will not have been factored into any budgets for the coming season. We wait to hear back from Everton and the other “Stakeholers” in the Premier League if they plan to repay the loyalty shown by travelling fans.
Last week news reached us that Swansea City would not be entering into any reciprocal deals this year, but would be capping their away match tickets at £22, meeting the demands of the £20′s Plenty campaign. If Swansea can do it, surely the other Premier League Clubs can afford to follow suit?