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Burnley FC Blog: Fans face tough choice over football 'luxury'
‘IT’S too expensive’ is one reason for fans staying away from football.
‘We’re not getting value for money’ or ‘I’m not paying to watch that’ are among others causes for the decline in attendances up and down the country.
With no sign of the recession abating then big decisions have to be made by individuals and families about where income and earnings are spent.
Football has become a luxury, without the guarantee of quality that you would expect from luxury labels like Lamborghini – as an outlandish example.
Down the years clubs have tried to find a reasonable way around boosting attendances, without upsetting the regulars.
Kids for a Quid, incentives for cup clashes, five games for the price of four. A chairman’s Premier League Pledge even. You name it, somebody will have either thought about it or tried it.
Burnley’s opponents on Saturday, Derby County, went trans-Atlantic in their search for the secret to bigger crowds, and came back with the idea of trying ‘Dynamic Ticketing’ which proved successful at baseball team San Francisco Giants.
It may seem controversial on paper. Season ticket holders pay a set price, running the risk of missing out on discounts, for the privilege of knowing they keep the seat of their choice for a full term.
But following reassurances they will not be out of pocket because the price structure will not fall below their average cost of a game, they have given their blessing to the new venture.
It involves the categorisation of games in order of popularity, takes into account time of year (Boxing Day being one of the most popular days in the calendar) and weather conditions, and how people might be put off going out in freezing temperatures, and it calculates prices accordingly.
It has the backing of the Football League too. And it’s working with attendances on course to achieve a 40 per cent increase this season with regular crowds of around 26,000.
Between them Burnley, Blackburn and Preston achieved just 31,883 in their last home game. The Deepdale gate of 8,132 was North End’s lowest in the league since the 1990s.
It’s a results business, of course, and relegation in recent years has not helped anyone’s cause.
In addition, the population of Derby is bigger than Burnley, with fewer clubs on their doorstep vying for attention.
But maybe it is possible to use Saturday’s visit to see how the Clarets could take a leaf out of their ticketing structure book.
It sounds a lot less complicated, with more long-term benefits, than the ‘Going for Gold’ scheme aimed at boosting the East Lancs derby gate at Turf Moor.
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