Great idea from a great club!
From Hoddle and Waddle on Top of the Pops to the dubious D-list appeal of Celebrity Soccer Sixes, football taking inspiration from the music industry has not always ended happily. But non-league FC United, the club born of opposition to Malcolm Glazer’s takeover of Manchester United, is hoping to buck the trend by replicating Radiohead’s ground-breaking “pay what you like” business model in a new way forward for the game.
The club, which recently narrowly missed out on securing their fourth successive promotion, will become the first to offer fans the chance to set their own price for their season ticket. In doing so, the board hopes to boost revenues without raising ticket prices across the board.
The team’s general manager, Andy Walsh, said the decision to launch the scheme, with a target of raising £125,000 in revenue, was in keeping with the ethos of the club. For 2008-09, when FC United played in the Northern Premier League Premier Division (three tiers beneath the Football League), season tickets cost £140. The hope is that those who can afford to do so will choose to pay more, subsidising those who pay less.
“The Premier League clubs have put up prices regardless of the ability of people to pay,” said Walsh. “Those that can afford to pay continue to pay and those that can’t fall off the end. Ultimately that will undermine the game of football, which has always been about inclusivity, not exclusivity.”
Walsh added: “For many, when prices go up there is no alternative. We’ve demonstrated there is an alternative model that puts the supporter at the very heart of the football club rather than on the fringes.”
FC United has maintained average attendances of more than 2,500 throughout the four years of its existence – far higher than is usual at that level of football but lower than some of the more optimistic forecasts made at its formation. The club is not quite going as far as Radiohead, who offered fans the option of downloading In Rainbows for nothing, by recommending £90 as a minimum. (Guardian)
I have nothing but respect for those who run FC United and this idea is a clever way to deal with a problem that will effect a growing number of football clubs in the coming season and that problem being the recession and how it will impact on the average football fan. Whether you like it or not and whether you love the game or attend just for the hell of it going to watch a game or paying for a season ticket is in many ways a luxury and many people will simply not be able to justify the expense given the constraints placed by the financial down turn.
Clubs lower down the pecking order will be the most greatly affected by this problem and perhaps FC United’s idea could in some way be applied elsewhere? Either way i hope that this idea brings the club even more in the way of support and that in a few seasons time they can find themselves in the Football League itself.
If your interested in getting down to Gigg Lane for a game or perhaps considering joining the club and purchasing a season ticket i strongly advise you CLICK HERE!