Before I leave for university, my Dad’s girlfriend came to me with a proposal: surprising him with tickets for the last home game before my studies begin, after she was struck by him seeming ‘all emotional’ when seeing us fill out the London Stadium against Bournemouth last week.
As I jumped through the hoops to sort out this surprise, I was struck by how determined the club seems to milk us for money at every opportunity. In order to secure tickets for all three of us (I didn’t really want the girlfriend to attend but, as she is paying for it, I couldn’t exactly say no).
I had to make accounts for each one of us (you can only buy one ticket per membership), and I then also had to buy Claret Membership for their accounts in order to make sure they could get tickets. This meant shelling out £80 on membership alone. When I got to the checkout, the club then had the nerve to charge £1 for each account as a ‘non member fee’ despite literally buying membership with that order.
Obviously, when the purchase is £80, a £2 order fee isn’t a lot of money, but is there really any need?
When this step was completed, I then had to actually add us to the ballot. This meant using my main account and then adding their client reference numbers to the order. Normally, when you buy tickets, you will know there and then what you will pay, and whether you can afford it. Not so with this system.
The West Ham ticketing system makes you enter in your card details when you put yourself on the ballot, but it does not charge you until your tickets are confirmed (for obvious reasons). What the ticket office doesn’t make clear, however, is when you will be charged.
In the event we do get the tickets, is the club automatically going to be charging me £135 the minute our tickets are confirmed? What happens if I have a major expense on the day the tickets are confirmed due to unforeseen circumstances, and I do not have the funds in my account to buy all three tickets? Will the club put me into a massive overdraft?
Imagine this is a one off match this season, and we do not go again (a fairly likely scenario, due to a combination of ballot luck and university). This means that their membership, that was £40 each for a year, will have only been used for one ticket. This essentially means that their membership cost was also their ticket cost. This bumps up the price of tickets for the game for those two from £45 per ticket to £85 per ticket, far higher than essentially any non-hospitality ticket at the Boleyn.
As they have not been to the London Stadium before (and his girlfriend specifically stated we could ‘make a day out of it’), I make it a fairly likely scenario that we’ll eat in that ‘supporters cafe’, or eat some of the ridiculously priced food/drink and ridiculously priced beer within the stadium (I know that David Gold says that the stadium operators dictate the prices, but surely this could have been part of the negotiations), and maybe they’ll want some sort of souvenir from their first time at the London Stadium as well. How much will have been spent overall from my dad and his girlfriend on the day, including ticket prices and all the rest? £95? £100? More?
This is exactly what Davids Gold and Sullivan wanted with the move to the London Stadium. Unlike the Boleyn Ground, the LS isn’t surrounded with well established local businesses for food and drink. The closest thing we have is Westfield, and that’s closed to West Ham supporters on match days.
People like my Dad’s girlfriend are exactly who Karren Brady wanted to target with this move. It makes West Ham more accessible for those who are not actually fully committed to the club. Worried about having to stand throughout the game? The stewards will kick out any working class scum who dare to mess with your ‘entertainment’. Want a hot dog and chips from the concourse? That’ll be £7.20, please.
How many more people like us do you think will go to maybe one home game per season?
While I’m pretty sure that my Dad and I will go to more, I really doubt his girlfriend, who has never been to a football game in her life, will want to watch Crystal Palace at home in the middle of winter. How many more times will the club make their £100 from one person, and that’ll be it for the season?
As traditional fans are forced out due to measures, such as bans for ‘persistent standing’, how much will this trend increase as the years roll on? Where will ‘West Ham London’ be in twenty years time?
The way things are going, I can see the existence of a ‘FC West Ham’ being a concrete possibility by 2020.
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