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Saints Talk Sense About Stadium Expansion
Thursday, 18th Sep 2014 11:23

Saints have been talking to the Daily Echo about their plans for St Mary's and they seem to be talking sense rather than brash promises.

The Daily Echo headline is "Saints keen on stadium expansion" although reading the story it actually is more "Saints talk sense about stadium expansion" rather than making big statements about adding extra seats Ralph Krueger has said that at the moment Saints are comfortable in the current stadium set up.

He has however laid down firm guidelines about what would be needed before Saints started to consider expanding the ground.

“Within the stadium structure, I think we’re happy,” he said.

“Once we have no seats empty for a multiple row of games we’d love to look at expansion, but we’re still fighting to make sure the seats are filled every game.

“We’re sure we have a product where that’s going to be happening on a regular basis, but within the building itself we’re looking at opportunities of developing stronger segments, also in the restaurants and the VIP sections and so on.”

These are sensible words from Krueger, but the ball now is very much in Saints court, prices increased greatly with promotion to the Premier and the new board admittedly in its early days, in advisedly increased prices both for individual tickets and season tickets.

This increase along with the turmoil of the summer led to far less season tickets being sold than the previous season and a big season ticket base is the key to a healthy average attendance.

In 2012/13 the average for our first season back in the top flight was 30,874, last season that reduced to 30,212 and so far this season we have averaged 28,638 for our two league fixtures, just over 1,500 down on last seasons average.

This isnt all doom and gloom as the opening two fixtures with respect to the two teams involved were not the most attractive, last season our opening two games saw an average of 29,195, so given the turmoil of the summer the actual drop in fans has not been massive and with the increased excitement of recent weeks that figure could be pushed up a little with the next game.

The major problem i see it for Saints is attracting supporters back, many fans who were season ticket holders prior to the Premier League promotion have stopped going because of cost and are watching the games in one of the many pubs around the City that put on the games with a feed from foreign sattellite tv stations, this threat should not e taken lightly, when Saints play at home there could be several thousand watching the game in this way all within a few miles radius of the stadium itself.

The issue here is cost, when you are looking at paying £34 or more for a ticket to watch unattractive teams play it is a lot of money when you can watch it in the pub for free and even after a few drinks still have £20 in your pocket from what you would have spent on a match ticket alone.

But Koeman is talking sense and he is right when he says that before we talk of increasing capacity we have to have the demand there for more than just the visit of a few big clubs, we need to create a culture of going week in week out, offer cheaper season tickets that do give substancial savings on the cost of buying tickets individually, statistics show that a season ticket holder will not only guarantee you a figure but is more likely to spend money on merchandise and food and drink etc.

Someone who did not renew his season ticket in the summer will probably this year pick and choose his games, he is likely to go to less than a dozen games and spend about £400 in buying tickets, that being the case you would be better in the long run given the extra financial peripherals to sell him a season ticket for £550, an extra £150 is better than an empty seat for 7 games.

So Saints job is to do what many football clubs have not yet woken to, that is realising that football supporters are not cash cows to be milked, indeed over the last few season tickets have gone up each season, just because the club could do so, like other clubs just seeing how far they can go before they start to lose fans, it could be said that price has been reached.

Saints now need to put in place measures that attract fans back and keep them going wek out, Brighton despite being in the Championship increased their average last year by over 1,000 to 27,283, they did so by not only making season tickets cheap but making them affordable by 12 monthly payment plans etc, we need to be looking at doing this rather than asking fans to stump up large sums in one go.

We need to make the match day experience more atttractive although in fairness Saints have already had a few initiatives in this area.

Some fans will be disappointed in Krueger's words they will point to the half baked plans put forward over the past two years, plans which never really gave any reasoning either how the seats would be filled let alone funded, Krueger has been very open and transparent here, he has put the ball in the fans court, fill the sets we have and then we can consider more !

Now the ball has to go back into his court, make it easier financially for the supporters to come, build our hard core base back up and create the culture that makes going to St Mary's a given rather than an option.

Photo: Action Images

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Scummer added 11:38 - Sep 18
Nick, can you clarify whether or not it is illegal for the pubs to be showing those games? It is one of those grey areas I have never been sure of.

From a moral standpoint, if broadcasting EPL games is actually legal then I would like for the city pubs to agree to not show the Saints game and just make sure that is the Sky Match Choice extended highlights game in the evening. That seems a reasonable compromise to me.

Saints would benefit from a larger stadium and the greater income from an FFP perspective.

LesVivian added 12:19 - Sep 18
With the amount of TV money, and the selling of club merchandise bringing in millions, it's time Saints, and other clubs to abandon the idea of making money through the gates! Reduce admission prices across the board, and have a full stadium every week! There is at least one generation of football supporters who cannot afford the riduculous prices, who consider supporting a team means watching it on Sky, or on the internet, probably at the pub! Let's not lose any more young supporters by putting the cost of attending matches out of their reach. Some of the tremendous amounts of money going out of the game to agents etc, could be diverted to reducing the financial burden on potential fans, and, for that matter, into the grass roots of football! Wages caps?

spitfiresaint added 12:46 - Sep 18
I rang St Mary's on Saturday morning for two tickets for the Newcastle game, one for me and one for my 11 year old son. Two seats side by side in the Chapel Stand came to £72. Common sense prevailed and I tuned in to Solent instead. COYR

BoondockSaint added 13:44 - Sep 18
Letting season ticket holders pay in two installments is reasonable, but I doubt the club wants to get into the bookkeeping nightmare of monthly installments, which would be just buying two games in advance and could stop at any time-they want to know how much money is coming ing before each window.

Promotions such as lower prices for kids or giveaways (paid for by sponsors) are good ways to get people to bring their kids and they will likely spend more money inside on kids(programmes, shirts, food, etc.) than they would on themselves.

Scummer: I don't know about the UK, but a similar situation sprung up in the US: NFL home games are only broadcast locally if the game is sold out 48 hours prior in order to help teams sell out (this may change soon). Sports bars grabbed the satellite feed and put a screen on each table and letting the customer pick the game they wanted. NFL said they would sue for theft of product (which it was)-bars across the country threatened to boycott Budweiser, the NFL's main sponsor. NFL backed off. I doubt pub owners are looking out for anyone but themselves and will continue to show Saints games.

slynch added 14:19 - Sep 18
For St Nick and anyone else who can't speak Krueger: Krueger is an Americano-European language that juxtaposes words that don't belong together to create an illusion of sense when there is none and purvey an illusion of information when there is none, and is designed to create great enthusiasm for nothing at all.

“Within the stadium structure, I think we’re happy”
Means: I thought it was a good idea and we had a meeting and they told me there's no chance.

“Once we have no seats empty for a multiple row of games we’d love to look at expansion,"
Means: I was told if something which has never happened, happens then they'd let me have another meeting and then they'd say - put the prices up.

“We’re sure we have a product where that’s going to be happening on a regular basis,"
Means: there's a football match on every other week

"but we’re still fighting to make sure the seats are filled every game."
Means: There's a football match on every other week so we're not going to be doing anything different.

"but within the building itself we’re looking at opportunities of developing stronger segments, also in the restaurants and the VIP sections and so on.”
Means: We're gonna paint the cafe and put the prices up for the oiks, and put in a bigger screen in the bar for the toffs.

When Krueger arrived at Saints in March, he described finishing the training ground as “priority one”, with improving the stadium “priority two”.

Means: Krueger suggested the ground should be enlarged and the he was told: why don't you STFU about the stadium, for the fifth time we're spending the money on the training ground.

Whatsforpud added 17:20 - Sep 18
In the days before live TV, sponsorship, and commercial sales, the only form of income was the cash collected at the gate, although I'm not sure what happened to that money when players were restricted to a maximum (£20pw?) wage. However, I would imagine that the cost of attending a Premier League match is higher in real terms now.

Clubs should be judging the price of tickets to ensure that the ground is full every time. I don't know what the average income is for each match, when taking in season tickets and concessions. It is perhaps around 750k. Multiply that by the number of matches, and you get nowhere near the TV income (77 million last season I read).

I believe that it is important to fill grounds every time, even if some turnstile income is sacrificed, as TV and other income will more than compensate.

saintmark1976 added 21:01 - Sep 18
Honestly Nick it is not rocket science.

Outside of the top Six or so clubs who win everything and can charge what they like,Premiership football is becoming just too expensive to watch live.

Unless clubs realise this then gates will diminish over the longer term.As spitfire saint posts £72 to watch Saints who have not won a major trophy since 1976 play Newcastle who are perennial under achievers is just not acceptable anymore.

Do the board at Southampton care? Personally I doubt it when they can get millions from Sky.Have they any intent to make the ground bigger? Again personally I seriously doubt it. Indeed why should they?


GeordieSaint added 20:45 - Sep 19
Last time I bought tickets I paid for 5 in one go over the phone. I was charged£2 per ticket booking fee which is an absolute liberty. When I complained that I was paying almost £200 and an extra £10 for the privilege I was told rather snootily that I could go online and do it myself for only £1 per ticket but the seats wouldn't be together. If this was any other business in the world you would simply take your custom elsewhere.

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