Issue Has lowering prices really been for the good of the club?

As told by The Writers of BfB, Dave Pendleton, Paul Firth and Adam Hepton

Events on Saturday as the club remembered the fifty six people who died in the fire of 1985 were both touching and upsetting and as the afternoon unfolded Bradford City fans were shown in many lights with an impeccability observed minute’s silence at the start of the game and an ill-advised pitch invasion that culminated in an aggressive taunting of the visiting Northampton Town fans at the end.

City’s fans are welcome up and down League Two charged £20 a time as the biggest away support in the league but the reduced cost of following the club at home sees City operating on a reduced budget the money that used to go to Valley Parade perhaps being spread around the division by our away support which has run into trouble down at Exeter last season while witnessing problems caused by other fans down at Luton last term.

We consider these events and others as The Barry Articles asks the question…

“Has lowering prices really been for the good of the club?”

Dave Pendleton Bantamspast Curator & Former City Gent Editor

I’m disturbed by the implication of this question as it seems to suggest that those who misbehaved on Saturday were poor and are only at Valley Parade because of the cheap season tickets. Of course, it is total nonsense. Remember the much more violent scenes when City played Cardiff on the last day of the season in the 1990s? There were no cheap season tickets that day. The question even mentions trouble at Exeter last season – our longest away trip and one hardly likely to attract those on the breadline. I could go on to mention last day pitch invasions that have taken place for decades, or the 1970s and early ’80s when Valley Parade was notorious for hooliganism. The fact that we were shocked by Saturday’s events tells us that we have moved on significantly since those dark days.

The cheap season ticket deal has been the best thing to happen to City over the last decade. It has kept our support levels high and has brought football back to the people. We should be immensely proud. Frankly, if ticket prices were raised all it would do is bring in the same income with less people in the ground. Even if we did suddenly enjoy a windfall would that automatically translate to success? Last season tells us that there nothing is guaranteed by throwing more money into players’ wages. Football has to break its unsustainable wage inflation. It has to start somewhere, so why not Valley Parade? As I’ve written before I would even reduce the matchday admission prices. Then football would really have been brought back to ALL of the people and not just those committed enough to buy season tickets. There are many Bradfordians who cannot even afford our cheap season ticket deals and yet they are denied the chance to support City by ridiculously high matchday admission prices. £20 for Division Four football is far too high – another reason to try as hard as possible to sort out once and for all the ownership of Valley Parade.

I hope we keep the cheap season tickets and continue to be a beacon for the rest of football. The obscenity of wages in the Premier League has caused a trickle down effect to reach right down the divisions. Of course, at Valley Parade there are few, if any, on unsustainable wages. That is a good thing, even if it costs us success in the short term. The fact that our club is operating within its means is another thing we should be proud of. We can hold our collective heads up high – despite the hundred or so idiots who let down the Bradford City family on Saturday. Bad behaviour is bad behaviour and has nothing to do with the price of tickets.

Adam Hepton One of the first BfB Writers

Die-hards of the club will buy a season ticket no matter what, unless something terrible happens in their lives and they cannot do so. A cold hard economic fact is that most fans (of any club) do not fall into this category.

The club has increased the gross number of people attending games, but its core fanbase remains the same. These “casual” fans are perhaps even more demanding, and it is not cheap tickets that will get them to stay and become a die-hard fan: it is making them feel special.

With less money coming in, and the money spent on facilities and stadium security not being increased to match the amount of attendees, the matchday experience is suffering: we have terrible food and drink offered to us at a premium, and we have to suffer the club’s name being tarnished by morons rushing at the away fans.

The club has decided that more people who might well go to Leeds or Huddersfield next week coming through the turnstiles is preferential to providing adequately for those who’ll always come – but you don’t get awards or column inches for doing that, do you?

Paul Firth City fan and Author of Four Minutes To Hell

Talking to supporters of other teams, they are all amazed at our season ticket prices. They suddenly realise we’re not a ‘big spending club’, despite our comparatively massive gates. Such media reporting as we attract is favourable – pricing football for the masses.

The original impetus came from the fear that normal pricing would produce a poor atmosphere in a huge stadium. Sometimes we wonder whether the existing atmosphere is worth it – see the original ‘Barry’, as in booing. Now we wonder whether we really want some of those who could not otherwise afford to come regularly.

Although we clearly don’t want the mindless idiots, the answer is not to increase prices just to try to keep them out. Some poorer fans are still true fans; some better off fans still ran on to the pitch.

The board must conduct its budgetary process every year. It wants the best income it can achieve, to provide the highest viable player budget. It is a delicate exercise. How many would still pay another £10 a season? £20? £30?

We need to attract families. They are the next generation of supporters. We need to remind all fans that we are special. We can have low prices and proper supporters.