When the club decided to announce their plans to put all six category A games up for sale this week all hell broke lose amongst Hammers fans who were either outraged at the prospect of having to pay hundreds up front to secure their tickets for the best games or, from those who have their season tickets and are indifferent to the effects these plans may have.
I count myself extremely luck to have had the privilege to hold a season ticket for most of my life, but I do sympathise with the supporters who feel they are being priced out of watching their beloved West Ham.
But David Gold makes a good point when defending the club’s decision to get these tickets on sale early.
He told SportsDirect News: “Yes, there are high prices of course but there are also low. We are adopting a balanced approach and there’s prices available for everybody.
Leisa Cohen disagrees, however, revealing here anger on Facebook last week and claims she will have to pay over £700 on category A tickets for her family next season:
But I get the feeling that there is a bit of an overreaction, especially after it was revealed that football in Germany’s Bundesliga, in places, around 90% cheaper than England. If we weren’t aware of that then would we be moaning so much? That will always be open to debate.
However, the bigger picture needs to be carefully looked at here. Firstly, Gold and Sullivan inherited around £100million of debt when the bought the club, which they have managed to cut down to around £70million in a few years. That’s good work but, there’s still a hell of a way to go.
Secondly, we need the income. Desperately. Without a good match day income then we will struggle to compete at the highest level, which David Gold has made clear on Twitter:
If west ham reduced there ticket prices to £20 and our competitors remained the same we would soon get relegated.
— David Gold (@davidgold) July 15, 2013
He has a point. The reality is that we don’t have enough income from other revenue streams that can warrant a price freeze or, most preferably, price drop. We just can’t do it.
When told that that you don’t see Manchester United being relegated, despite having cheaper tickets, Gold replies:
@JackGrantham_ Manchester United match day income is over three times greater than ours. That's why they will never be relegated.
— David Gold (@davidgold) July 15, 2013
Many fans will point to Manchester City, who currently have the cheapest season ticket in the Premier League. £299. Very good value for money. But they are the richest football club in the world. They do not need to rely on gate receipts every season. We do. The likes of Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool are all more expensive than us, though. The cheapest season ticket at the Emirates is £985, which is almost £100 more than our most expensive.
Secondly, quality of football. I’m not going to argue that fans shouldn’t be paying the prices they do to watch ‘average footballers’ and negative football. After all, most fans claiming that were the fans shouting from the roof tops that they were delighted with the way the club finished tenth in the Premier League last season.
The club have, if I remember correctly, just forked out £15million on Andy Carroll. A player every single fan wanted the club to sign. The owners gave the fans what they wanted. Yet when asked to pay a little bit more to watch him, it’s back to “we’re being priced out of the game.”. That may sound unfair and, honestly, I do not want it to come across in that way, but that’s it in a nutshell, right?
Lastly, the Olympic Stadium. We haven’t even moved in yet, but there’s still claims that ticket prices will only go ‘up’ when we finally get given the keys in 2016. That, clearly, is absolute rubbish. The owners have promised the fans cheaper tickets and, if I’m not mistaken, they have to keep to that promise under the terms of the tenancy. I may be wrong here, but weren’t we chosen as preferred bidders on the basis that create a legacy and make sport affordable for all? That’s cleared that one up then.
James Catlin was spot on earlier when he tweeted David Gold his thoughts, which the co-chairman acknowledged with a retweet:
@DavidGoldWHU @Jamiefoz98 – Once we do move, tickets will be lowered, gates will be higher, sooner we move out, sooner we can move on
— James Catlin (@James_Catlin) July 15, 2013
But, if you think about it, there’s a chance we could be playing in Europe when we move in. Maybe not before, but possibly afterwards. Will it be such a crime to begin charging more money for fans then? When each game is a sell out and the waiting list for season tickets is around 10 years long. I’m not so sure.
But where does it end? There are always going to be supporters who are unhappy with something. Supporters who feel they are being priced out. Supporters who hassle the chairman on Twitter every day, suggesting to him what players the club should buy and immediately expect him to pop to the shops and pick said player up in the sales for a fiver.
We sold out something like 16 home games last season but, all the while, we had supporters moaning about ticket prices. My guess is it’ll be the same again this season. And the season after that. And then forever more.
My tip would be take up the cheaper tickets instead. Of course that means having to watch West Ham against the likes of Stoke City, Crystal Palace and Norwich City but, correct me if I’m wrong, West Ham fans shouldn’t care who they’re going to see their beloved team play, right? As the long as the mighty Irons are playing then who cares?
I’d also like to take this opportunity to say how disgusted I am with some the comments made towards David Gold by our so called fans on Twitter over the past few days. There are so many fans who forget how much he and David Sullivan have done for our football club and they deserve the upmost respect for that. Of course there are times, such as now, when you may not pleased with his decisions. But, calling our chairman every name under the sun from behind your keyboard really makes you look like a bit of a plonker and, more importantly, an embarrassment to the club.
What do you think? Has there been an overreaction? Can the club rightly justify high ticket prices? Does David Gold have a point? Do the fans have a point? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.