A long trip to an away game in January is enough to put off all but the most foolhardy fans. Midweek matches are especially difficult, usually involving time off work or a gruelling shift after sporadic sleep on a coach. To compound this, some travelling fans are being charged more the corresponding home-end tickets.
Newcastle United, whose fans will be charged £35 for one such Tuesday night in January, a 510 mile round trip to Norwich, want to put an end to this. The club has bartered partnerships with Hull City, Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion to guarantee low away costs. More clubs are encouraging other clubs to join in, unfortunately Norwich City are amongst the clubs to have declined.
Last January, the Football Supporter’s Federation launched their Twenty’s Plenty campaign for a nationwide upper price limit. The Federation believes away fans are vital to the atmosphere of English football, but the increasing costs of travelling and tickets are keeping fans at home. FSF’s chief executive Kevin Miles called the announcement a “significant breakthrough in turning the concept of affordable prices for away fans into a reality. We would urge all other Premier League clubs to follow the lead of these clubs, both by taking up this offer and extending similar arrangements to other fixtures too” (Football Supporter’s Federation website).
An average away trip for Newcastle fans involves a 447 mile trip (more than any club) paying £10 more than their counterparts do at St James Park. So the Tyneside club, in addition to paying for disabled supporter travel contacted other clubs to enact mutual low costs. Swansea and Hull City have agreed to £20 tickets (£5 concessions) with the West Bromwich agreement coming at a wallet friendly £15 per ticket.
Last season, out of 18 clubs surveyed by the Guardian Newspaper, only Arsenal’s gate receipts were bigger than TV revenues. Moreover, a newly negotiated television deal has increased club revenue by an estimated £14 million this year. In light of this, more fans may believe their clubs can and should afford this new policy. A long return journey after an all too familiar defeat is never easy, but this scheme might at least make the cost more bearable.
Image from the Independent.