We recently received the exciting news that the price of a ticket to see City at the Etihad is increasing by a huge margin this coming season. Not only is this terrible news, it also make little to no sense and affects the fans where it hurts most – the wallet.
Rising ticket prices are not new. This is a facet of the modern game whether we like it or not. In some mawkish, sepia toned view of a past paradise, ticket prices were available for 50p (or whatever money old people used back in the day), but to expect that now is taking naivety to hilarious levels.
Modern football is, for better or for worse, a business, and the fans represent an often alarmingly loyal bank account for club owners.
So why the anger and disappointment among the City fans? After all, our ticket prices are lower than many and the cost has increased at a slower rate than many of our rivals. We all knew prices weren’t going to go down. So why does this all feel so disappointing?
Well, to put it simply, because the owners and the club do not need the extra cash.
The main worry for them is, of course, Financial Fair Play. City publically failed it this year and have accrued the sanctions of which I am sure we are all well aware. However it has been stated by Khaldoon that the club is on course to be in profit after this season due to a combination of on field success, an obscenely bloated television rights deal, and Tom Glick’s commercial magic. So why are they taking yet more money from the fans?
The wage bill has been a major concern for the club. Indeed, City pay more to the staff than any other organisation in world sport. However this situation is partly alleviated by having some of the old Mark Hughes era deadweights finally off the payroll. In addition, current players are being renegotiated onto new contracts which emphasise a lower basic wage and higher bonuses, such as Samir Nasri reportedly taking a £40,000 per week pay cut to stay at City. So why are they taking yet more money from the fans?
The club has taken some quite extraordinary steps to get City fans, and others, onside these past few years. The PR operation is a slick, well oiled machine. The fan events such as City Live. The promotion of youth through a hugely expensive academy. Relatively cheap season and concession tickets. The proposed house building project in East Manchester. Even the dignified way in which the club is run in stark contrast to almost every other regime in the past 25 years or more. When the whole world is against you, it makes perfect sense to keep those who are already your friends onside as much as feasibly possible. So why are they taking yet more money from the fans?
Times are hard and it is saddening, and maddening, that fans such as Howard Hockin might not be able to afford to see their club for much longer.
I understand FFP. I understand that no matter the promises of breaking into profit, the fear of failing to meet the guidelines a second time and maybe being evicted from the Champion’s League must loom large in the corridors of power at City. I understand that any more revenue, no matter how insignificant ticket sales may be in the grand scheme of things, must feel like a comfort. Like insurance.
I understand the reasoning behind all of this but there does not seem to be a convincing reason why the club is taking yet more money from the fans beyond simple greed.
Thoughts on this issue are very much encouraged and welcome in the comments.
Written by Alex Timperley who is on Twitter