Often Partisan

Improving Future Attendances at St Andrews

It’s always a thorny issue but ticket sales and attendance have been in the news a lot at Blues recently. Tomorrow marks the start of a trial period whereby Blues have equalised the prices between matchday and “earlybird” sales, cutting a fiver off the price charged for tickets sold on the day of the game. It’s a step in the right direction but is there more that can be done?

Before I go any further I want to emphasise how ticketing and attendance is an emotive subject – everyone has their own individual reasons for what they do and whilst there is no law saying you have to like those reasons it is courteous to respect people’s opinions and their right to exercise their prerogative as they see fit. Furthermore, I would also like to emphasise that I am in no way speaking for everyone – these are my opinions and my opinions alone.

I have to admit that I was surprised by Blues’ move to remove the earlybird discount and make it the same (lower) price regardless of when a ticket is purchased. I was under the maybe mistaken impression that this wasn’t achievable but clearly the club have done what was required to ensure that something that a lot of people hated has been removed – albeit for a temporary period at first. I’m guessing that for the change to come into effect permanently there will have to be improved takeup of “walkup” sales to show that it was something that was keeping people away.

I guess the most surprising thing is that according to the statistics the club have supplied me with walkup sales haven’t been exceptionally affected this year. A quick glance through the stats available show that a similar amount of people have bought tickets on matchday to last year for similar games – which would maybe say that the £5 extra wasn’t the main reason for lower attendances. Based on the figures I’ve been given the problem seems to be much deeper than price; it would be fair to say that season ticket sales aren’t as good as they were last year and my worry is that some of the people who haven’t renewed have given up going altogether.

The way I see it, there are three principal factors that affect attendance. Firstly, what’s going on on the pitch. I think it’s safe to say that if your side is playing like Brazil circa 1970 and scoring goals like it’s going out of fashion more people will turn up than if you’re playing dull, dour, negative hoofball. Secondly, what’s going on off the pitch – as an example it’s no surprise to me that Leeds United and Blackburn Rovers are having massive attendance problems because of their problematic ownership situations. Thirdly is value – not price, but value. People want to believe that they’re not getting ripped off, that they’re paying a fair price for what they are to receive and that they aren’t being pushed into paying something that is more than they need to.

If you take this into account then the only thing the club’s ticketing staff and their superiors can affect is the third one – and because of this, this is what I’d like to concentrate on with regards to long-term changes. I’ve obtained prices for what Blues fans will pay for away trips this season where they are available and currently, the cheapest ticket (barring the £20 terraces at Peterborough which are a special case) was £23 for the Cardiff game on Tuesday night. Most prices are around the £25-£28 mark with Ipswich charging fans on the day £33.50 and Leeds United an extortionate £36. This says to me that Blues are in the right ballpark for what they are charging as tickets for Huddersfield (Grade C ) will be £23 in the Tilton whilst Leicester (Grade B) will be £28 for the same seat.

However, what I would like to see at Blues personally is a doing away of categories. I don’t go to St Andrews to watch the opposition – I go to watch Blues. It’s my belief that a set price – say £24-£25 for every game in the season would tell people in advance exactly how much they would have to pay; it would be easier for Season Ticket Holders to see the value in their season ticket purchases and no game is overvalued or undervalued. I’d then add that the first four games on TV would benefit from being the games that “local offers” (of which Blues are limited to four per season) would apply to and all those games would be a £5 cheaper (as an example).

I’ve got a few more ideas like this, but they are my ideas, and I’m not egotistical enough to believe that everyone will agree with them. I have therefore decided that during November I will be promoting two ticketing surveys on this site – one for ST holders and one for non-ST holders. I’m going to put together a series of questions so I can better gauge what Blues fans want, and then once the surveys are complete I will post my analysis (as well as the raw data) so that everyone else can see what has come from it. Furthermore, I have met with the club and I have obtained agreement from them that they will also take the data and use it to help base their ticketing decisions for the season 2012/3. The surveys will be anonymous and will ask for no personal information whatsoever; all they will be will be about your opinions on ticketing, pricing and how the club can better fill the ground.

I hope that if enough people take part, then positive change can be affected and maybe, just maybe Blues fans will be happier with ticketing policies in the future. In the meantime I would like to urge fans who can go to the Huddersfield game to take advantage of the offers available – the ground doesn’t look as nice empty as it does full and I’m a believer that the team play better with more of us behind them.

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32 Responses to “Improving Future Attendances at St Andrews”

  • Art Watson says:

    Yet another balanced article with lots of thought provoking ideas.

    I particularly agree with your comments concerning value as most of the successful UK supermarkets use this strategy to entice more business.

    However it’s imperative that people enjoy the full experience and what goes on and off the pitch has a significant influence on attendances and there lies the main problem.I think despondency with some core supporters is the main driver for empty seats and this will not go away until we change the owners and success on the pitch returns to St Andrews.

    Bottom or mid table positions will just lead to even lower gates even though it may be affordable to attend.

    • James Black says:

      I’m tired of this old yawn about the owners keeping people away. Under the old owners, who to be fair did a lot to make watching us more affordable, we had poor attendances then too. 9th in the premiership we had poor attendances. The reason the stadium is half empty is because many prefer to do other things these days but instead of just saying they want to do other things they stay away and invent reasons why they don’t go. Like I said 9th in premiership and was still half empty. I believe the crappy excuse then was they didn’t like Brady and Sullivan. After that they was claiming Mcleish brand was boring but boring or not we was again 9th for a period of time. Tired of those that can’t accept we are not a well supported club and have not been so for years. Stop blaming owners if you don’t want to go then stay home and play with your computer if you prefer. Don’t keep up all this constant it’s the owners. Tired of that crap. I live thousands of miles away and cannot go anymore. But their were times when I lived in Birmingham that I didn’t go cuz I got sick and tired of moaners all around me. In truth that was my poor excuse and I accept that was an excuse. Drive out the negos and maybe we can start to enjoy St Andrews again. Bring back the fun and much of it is down to your own attitude. I think some enjoy moaning more than they let on.
      We only had good gates when their was big discounts even 5 pound sometimes and the kids for a quid didn’t even fill the ground sometimes. And guess what. They was moaning then too.

  • Bluemat says:

    I’m a ST holder for a good few years now. First and foremost i am a supporter so whatever happens with the club i will be there to watch. That doesn’t mean that i always enjoy going to watch. At the moment even having paid £400 odd quid for the ST i’m not buying into whats going on, on the pitch and with the current manager and its a real struggle to get myself into the ground. I’m not a fair weather supporter, i still attend and i never boo but i can empathise with some people that have little money choose to go to a game and then watch an absolute shower on the pitch. For example whether its right or wrong some fans maybe 50/50 whether to go to a game or not, so they watch one of our televised games that have been nothing short of dreadful, who would honestly pay money to go and watch that? I do believe that we over achieved last season, i didn’t/don’t expect us to be up and around the playoffs this season (even before the season started) but i still see no excuse to how bad things are on the pitch. I don’t expect to see total football every week sometimes you have to be dirty and grind out a draw or nick a win but in all honesty this season we currently stand on 11 points i believe and we are lucky to have those points. Some supporters have to be realistic yes we had a result away to Brighton but it was 75-80% backs to the wall, we have a better team then that, i personally think. For me, fans are not buying into this managers tactics, everybody bought into hughton, it wasn’t perfect but there was a plan and there was a noticeable strategy, it couldn’t be more opposite this season. KRO!

    • nicky wicky says:

      bluemal blues are currently on the same points as they were on at the same point last season. last year we had the distraction of europe, so you can’t say that we overacheived and are not going to be up near the play-offs or automatic spots. It would only take the team to go on a decent run and they would be up at the top. Last year Reading came out of nowhere to win the Championship title when everyone thought it was going to be won by West Ham or Southampton. Last season Blues drew at Brighton, this year they won. There are going to be unexpected results.

  • Kaje says:

    Agree with all, Almajir, but I’m of the opinion that the sole reason our gates are so low is the awful performances and results we’ve had to watch at home this season.

    If performances improved and became consistently good, we’d see more fans in the stands.

    And before anyone suggests it’s a catch 22 scenario – it isn’t. A lack of fans would not affect performances. They’re professionals and play as such regardless of the number of people watching. Add to that the fact smaller teams win infront of 2,000 and the fact they play behind closed doors games and win – and it’s clear that particular argument is invalid.

    Improve the performances and results (with or without Clark) and the fans will flood back.

    As one of the greatest Russians that has ever lived once said;

    “Simples!”

    • Blueboy 88 says:

      Totally agree , if we were top of the league & scoring goals for fun the place would be rocking regardless of a £23 or £28 ticket price.

      Success breeds success….
      In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.

  • tony says:

    I used to drink pre match with 10 season ticket holders ,this season there is only 2 of us that have renewed and from the others only 3 attend home games.The biggest bug bear from everyone is the feeling that they have been continually ripped off by the club.Right or wrong i know alot feel the same and paying the current prices to watch inept performances won’t bring anyone back.Unfortunately i think for alot of people the enjoyment factor was slowly strangled by the previous board and the new hairdresser has kicked it right out the door.The answer is ,well i don’t know and i’m sure every club is suffering to a degree from reduced attendances .Football is an expensive sport to go to now and with limited incomes fans make a decision to do other things.

  • Grim says:

    One of the major things that puts me off is the negative attitudes of fans on matchday. Really winds me up when I’m down there and people are more concerned about complaining about the owners and money than they are about supporting the team. That should be left at the gates in my opinion.

    Hate having to sit next to some clueless old fart who moans about everything a certain player does. I’d much rather watch from home and actually enjoy the game than have 5 or 6 people sat around me ruining it. The fans have gotta be the least enjoyable thing about football.

    • James Black says:

      Grim thats exactly the experience i used to have. Makes it not a fun day. They always find something to moan about no matter what.

  • Masaccio says:

    Saw an advert in the Evening Standard last night for west ham v man city, ticket prices start from £49!

  • Art Watson says:

    I’m not sure of the average gate while we were in the prem but I suspect it was circa of 26000 and the average ticket price would have been much higher than it is now.

    This supports the argument that whats on offer at the moment is not attracting the main core supporters .I even think that many supporters are not too bothered about what’s going on behind the scenes its more about the lack of success on the pitch and discounting the ticket prices will only make a slight difference.

    • James Black says:

      If i remember rightly Art in the premiership we averaged around 21000 and more often was as low as 18000 so i wish people would stop forgetting that this is not a new problem. Where do they get these figures of 26000 average are you kidding me.

  • sam says:

    Good piece, I completly agree about banding, it’s about watching Blues not the opposition. The beauty of football is the unpredicatblity so status/position of oppostion doesn’t always correlate to the level of football on the pitch. One set fee of say £23 and people would know where they stand and make decisions based on set price.
    Staff with an IQ higher than 10, carpets, adequate seating, flatscrrens showing classic games/goals would make the ground bars more attractive and for reltively small cost (one of Zigic’s sleeps) be incorporated making the match expierence a more positive one.
    Basic things such review/change of layout of toilet in/out system are easily done but are not which increases the feeling of not really being listened or cared about!
    I mean why would you have the door out of the bogs 3 foot wide and leading straight into the fans queing to get in., arggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh

  • Matt says:

    I’d say money has a big part – Birmingham has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, money is tight at the moment and getting tighter for many. While prices are about average for the division, they still aren’t cheap – I’d say they’d need to be more like a tenner to take that out the equation, more like going to the cinema than going to the theatre.

    The other thing is hope – we’ve had some of our big hopes fulfilled in the last 10 years, first it was all about finally getting back up -we did it, then about beating the Villa – we did it, then maybe some luck in the cup – we did it! Europe, bonus! what else is there to hope for? seems unlikely we’re ever going to compete with the Man City’s of this world, so we’d be resigned to being a Stoke/Fulham/Wigan at best – just getting by each year – we did that too, and after the first yo-yo the decline in attendance started. Maybe we need to suffer a few sorrows before we get our desire back as fans, maybe we figure we had our end of the road already? not alot of hope coming from the owners either.

    For me this will take some turning around – no idea how, I guess new owners is the likeliest way, but it seems these days that half of the championship clubs with reasonable support have already had a foreign buy-out splashing the cash to get up, so how much hope will that bring?
    I’ll keep watching and going when I can though, stubborn, sucker for punishment that I am.

    • DoctorD says:

      Spot on Matt — that’s a lot of sense you’re talking. In a strange way, it doesn’t help that it’s so easy now to watch highlights of matches on the BBC or even on the club website. Why watch the whole ghastly game when you enjoy the two minutes of best bits on the telly or laptop. And of course, you can get just as much banter staring at websites like this one. I personally think this site has made me more of a fan than before — it’s an oasis of sanity where most people have time for what you say. So al, I’m blaming you for falling attendances (kidding).

  • The Flying Pig says:

    I feel that there are many factors impacting our attendances just now and these are well covered above. To extend one point a little further, I just wonder about the current perception of the game of football in general and the impact that is having on our attendances. By this I mean:
    1 The contempt for the paying supporter in terms of stupid kick-off times.
    2. Outrageous wages paid to average footballers resulting in increased ticket prices to people who simply cannot afford it.
    3. My percepiton is of contemptuous behaviour by managers too – MON walks out on the Vile and yet sues them; it is reported today that Lambert is doing the same – I’m not privvy to the contracts, nor the circumstances and I recognise that both of those mentioned here may well have a perfectly reasonable case and have been wronged – I’m just saying my perception is that this is different to the treatment supporters would expect.
    4. Clubs continuing to put out second rate teams in certain games whilst not forewarning the supporters of this – there’s plenty of examples of this locally. If I buy ‘smart price’ baked beans, I expect a different “product” and do not expect to pay the same as for Heinz.
    5. The TV companies are the only entity to whom the PL/clubs give any respect,

    Whilst football supporters are not the same as a normal consumer, perhaps this insiduous incremental chipping away at the supporter is starting to have some impact. The authorities are fond of talking about the product – perhaps they need to look at the constituent parts.

    Despite all of the above, I shall be there tomorrow! KRO

  • tamuffblue says:

    All the above are bang on – there are so many reasons why attendances are low not just at Stans but all over the spectrum – Vilers get 10000 below cap for their only derby of the season – Cardiff new ground – owners – Bellamy etc etc as you say Leeds And I am of the opnion that Football fans as a whole are absolutely pissed off with being ripped off – You make a great point abount catagory games – couple of seasons ago Leeds at home Cat A – 30 odd quid yet they were bottom of the league at the time of match – It does not surprise me about West Ham as it was the same bunch that started this whole thing off !!!!! Football MUST get its house in order otherwise the demise is just on the horizon –

  • bluenoseneil says:

    The fact of the matter is that whether you pay £5 or £100 to watch your team play you are NEVER guaranteed good football, and that’s the unpredictable element of the game.

    I have to say that over the years I have seen Blues play terrific football and I have seen them play utter toss, and the only consistent thing that links them is there’s ALWAYS some smart-assed fan sitting no more than a few rows away who thinks he can run the team better than anyone else.

    The frustrating part is that I always seem to get a seat near him (even though they are different people each time I think) and one particular game this guy ranted on and on about Redmond and screamed every time he made the tiniest of errors. Do you know which game this was? Our Europa League qualifier against Nacional….arguably one of Redmond’s best games in a blue shirt.

    As my Dad says “you pays your money and you takes your chance”. I just wish more people would take that chance as it appears Stans is turning into a graveyard recently.

  • chris says:

    Fed up with paying players rip off wages, tv bias, inept Prem League, FA & Football League and i deliberately don’t have sky or watch MOTD or shity Football Focus or skys Sat morning crap version and i hardly watch itv’s european footy either as most of it is predictable and boring.
    I think blues fans are some of the first to stop going and voting with their feet as they did about five years ago, now it’s taken another step.
    Even at work people talk about footy less including fans of all local clubs, there is a degree of apathy with all of them and i think this stems from the monopoly of the prem top 10 and fans of all clubs know that unless they have a miracle like Blues in 2011 they have NO HOPE of winning anything or even getting into Europe.
    So it becomes pointless going if the hope has gone and to a degree the hope has gone at Blues as we see a board not investing in the team but they want to see fans invest each match.
    tehy want our money but very little is spent on transfers as we are buying bargain basement, just like Ratners, remember them?
    The fans know it will only get worse unless we get new owners. We know come Jan another player or two will be sold and we are heading in Cov’s direction as this is the path they have followed, eventually you have no assets left to sell unless you buy youngsters to improve and sell, but all we buy is over the hill players on high wages who worth is decreasing not increasing as they get older.
    Even last game wolves had lowest gate for over five years

  • Art Watson says:

    Chris.

    Excellent summary as to what’s wrong with football and I suspect you have captured the mood of the missing Blues supporters beautifully.

    Success on the pitch will put more bums on seats but this won’t happen without investment and commitment from the owners.Sorry to say under the current regime this wont happen .

    It’s as simple as that.

  • Paulo says:

    I suspected that on the day sales were never going to fluctuate as much as season ticket sales, so I’m kind of guessing that the ex-ST holders have simply got tired and lost faith. Thats really a sign of the times, as the days of standing and crowds of tens of thousands have long gone ..but then, it was pretty simple to buy a ticket and make the choice of going down on the day.
    Now it’s expensive and so is everything else. So I do guess that value for money also means ..I will only go down the blues when they are going to win a match. Well, I dont want to see anyone penalised for buying a matchday ticket so it’s good to see the club listening! I also think the ST offer to buy a ticket for 1/2 price for Huddersfield was a good move also, as it saved a mate a load of cash!
    But really, we need a lot more fans to give the team a massive push. It seems the play off (against blackpool) was a long time ago.

  • james says:

    Our attendances have always been gash – FACT!

    Bar our first 2 seasons it’s been the same old tired excuses from some our “fans”

    My dogs in hospital
    Its cold
    I aint payin to watch that shite
    Its a toss up between the kids and the football
    My priorities have changes
    I can’t have a smoke anymore.

    But wait – Play off final/away day in Europe and its the following;

    The club are a disgrace, they should be much better organised
    I aint been down since 1634 and cant get a ticket
    I was on the phone for 4 hours and still couldn’t get a ticket

    Blah blah blah

    I applaud the club for encouraging higher gates but the facts are our fans are now like the rest of modern day football fans; fickle.

    My first game was in 1987 against Tranmere Rovers and we had about 9000. Facts are we love to preach about how we have the record attendance for away fans at wembley/a million in Bruges – lets face it we have 20,000 fans who can’t be bothered OR will use any excuse not to go down the match. Some of my dads mates who come out with the classic ” not been since the semi final against fulham, or the vast majority missing fans classic ” we aint in the premiership.

    We have some unbelievable supporters but the majority are ar5eholes that love to moan and don’t support the club in the dark times.

    16000 tomorrow max

    KRO!

    • James Black says:

      From one James to another i could not have said that any better myself. Tired of em James. One reason some don’t go is cuz they sick of sitting next to mr angry no life who hates the world. Oh boy but good post James.

  • andy says:

    David Sullivan was always moaning about the apathy of Blues supporters. He once cited the apathy as a reason for not re-developing the main stand.

    • James Black says:

      And he was right Andy. 5 pounds admission and kids for a quid wasnt bad was it. But of course they still moaned and the stadium still wasnt full.

    • James Black says:

      I wouldn’t waste my money developing a stand where there are no fans either. But dont tell me. Its the view from the Kop of having to look at the old stand that keeps them away.

  • Aussiebrum says:

    For me I will always buy my ST as long as I can afford it. I don’t care if I can’t get to a single game as thats my little way of supporting my team.

    In Australia ST holders get free admission to the pre season friendlies, maybe that’s worth considering and there are no half season ST’s.

    I’d like to see any big game like major cup ties, play off games etc. be limited to ST holders ONLY (maybe 2 ticket limit per ST) so that 100% of tickets go to those that provide the serious financial support to the club.

    KRO,

  • James Black says:

    If we can hand out firearms for people who ruin our st andrews experience by endlessly moaning so they can shoot themselves as they are not happy with life anyway then maybe people will come back who used to have a nice time watching a game.

  • Chris Smith says:

    My dad stopped going regularly due to work. Refused to go under Bruce as he said he didn’t want to watch hoof. Came back for a Newcastle away game when my sister was at uni and we’ve had season tickets ever since the following championship season. Problem is have is that I get fatigue. Didn’t want to watch this season so soon. After the non stop of last season, euros and Olympics. I was on nights from December till june, late games i had to leave early. Week games I missed.

    I want a football law. All games get played at 3pm on Saturday. No exceptions. Also you play at home one week and away the next. Television for highlights only. Or something like that anyway, see how much gate attendances change.

  • Munch_kin says:

    Reading through all the comments above it’s obvious that the fans are still passionate about what’s going on at St Andrews and rightly so, it’s inspiring to hear the Kop in full voice on match day and the players must hear it too and it must push them for that extra couple of percent effort than if they were playing to an empty ground. I admit that I’ve been moaning that I’m paying the same price for my ST as I did when we were in the premiership as they’ve kindly “frozen” the prices since then with no reductions but it did cost two of us £92 to go to Brighton (for the ticket and on the coach) so it does become expensive trying to support the club and go home and away at those prices each week and the Leeds gate price is astonishing at £36-put the travel on that and you’re paying a fortune out which isn’t down to Blues but still hits the rapidly emptying pockets of the fans. As a ST holder I wondered how others felt about comments bantered around/discussed that the club were more interested in putting new bums on seats with lots of offers but not helping the ST’s with offers etc as they’ve already got those bums on their seats?

  • Roy Smith says:

    Why am I, an ex season ticket holder who never used to miss a match and who still is passionate about the Blues a stay away fan?
    Borrussia Dortmund, champons of Germany for the last 2 seasons, a team who played Manchester city off the Etihad park this week offer season tickets starting at less than £180.
    Blues start their prices at £400+
    German clubs are associations where fans are “shareholders” of the team, likewise in Spain.There is a feeling that fans are part of the club. Here it is made very clear that I am simply a customer and nothing else.
    On the basis that the Premiership is referred to as having 3 divisions within it, that makes Blues at best a 4th level team so how can they feel justified in charging me more than the champions of Germany?
    As a customer I go to Sainsburys as long as they charge me an acceptable price for good quality produce. If I have been made to feel like a customer at Blues I will only go there if they do the same.
    So how can Blues get me back as a regular fan again? Make me feel part of the club again and stop ripping me off
    By the way Dortmund from a much smaller city than Brum get 80,000 fans every week so they must be doing something right.

  • bluemaximus says:

    Please… everyone read this

    http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/Cost-football-tickets-s-time-fair-play-turnstiles/story-16994960-detail/story.html

    Then tell me heart doesnt rule heads. English mentality is taking it up the wrong un from crooks. The Germans just wouldnt take what we take. How ironic theyre more liberal!

    Secondly, why hasnt English media reported this?


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