On 14th August supporters once again marched on the Premier League and Football League Headquarters which brought the issue of ticket prices back onto the media's agenda.
Fans from dozens of clubs were involved and a delegation met with Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore and representatives from the Football League. Fans from dozens of clubs were involved in addition to Ian Stirling (MUST Vice Chair) and Duncan Drasdo (MUST CEO) from MUFC there were strong contingents from Liverpool, Everton, Newcastle United and Sunderland along with fans from Southampton, Crystal Palace, Cardiff City, AFC Wimbledon, Leyton Orient, Nottingham Forest, West Ham United, Chelsea, Leeds United, Brentford, Arsenal, Chelsea, Stoke City, Spurs, QPR, Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday, Plymouth Argyle, Bristol City, Doncaster Rovers, Bradford City, Norwich City
MUST Banner at demo outside Premier League HQ
As previously MUST was recognised as a crucial fan group to have in the delegation for the meeting with MUST chief executive Duncan Drasdo (DD) being invited to attend the meeting with Richard Scudamore (RS) and other senior PL staff.
Some key points which DD argued in the meeting:
- While stadium occupancy may be a priority for the PL itself, the clubs are too interested in maximising short term return which leads to higher ticket prices even if attendance is slighly reduced as a result. More significantly higher prices come at the expense of a passionate atmosphere created by supporters who feel valued by their club (reciprocal loyalty) rather than simply expendable and exploitable customers.
- RS agreed it is in the PL's interest to promote full stadia and passionate atmosphere as they are crucial to the hugely valuable TV Rights that the PL sells on behalf of the clubs.
- Worth note the sale of TV rights is a highly regulated auction rather than a negotiation by the Premier League so this restricts what they can offer/stipulate to broadcasters
- DD argued that the PL needs to incentivise clubs to take measures to promote full attendance, atmosphere, bigger away allocations (and fully taken up), more younger fans etc.
- He said this could be achieved by ringfencing part of the TV rights deal for distribution to clubs with the best record on these issues. It needs to be financially worthwhile for clubs to reduce ticket prices and offer cheaper and larger away allocations as well as more concessions for fans in the crucial 16-25 age group who are being lost.
- This is easily achievable given the size of the TV revenue compared to income from ordinary match going fans.
- RS argued it is difficult to persuade clubs to do this but DD countered that provided the right formula was created which worked in favour of at least 14 PL clubs (the number required for a majority vote) then this could be a win-win for majority of clubs and all fans.
- DD argued that Barclays don't get full value out of their PL sponsorship because they aren't engaging with the fans. Either they and/or a new "Fans' Sponsor" might get considerably greater value from sponsoring a fund to reward clubs with the best fan friendly policies.
A slightly blurred photo taken just before the PL meeting started