Are Brighton Ticket Deals The Right Thing To Do ?
Friday, 7th Sep 2018 09:18
Saints have taken an unprecedented step in the marketing of individual match day tickets by offering heavily discounted prices, but this has drawn criticism in some quarters.
It cannot be denied that there is an aura of negativity surrounding Southampton Football Club, over the past few years as large section of the supporter base has become disillusioned, whilst there are certain gripes that are justified, I would say that many are more the result of whispers being passed around on social media and growing in stature.
No one can deny that mistakes have been made, but so far those mistakes have not been fatal, yes last season almost saw us relegated, but we didn't go down and now we need to dust ourselves down and go again.
Some have complained that of late I have been very pro club and not taking them to task on that is going wrong, that is not the case, we have made mistakes over the past couple of seasons, some have been big ones, but most of the mistakes have been about the appointment of managers rather than transfers, as the Virgil Van Dijk situation proved a year ago, the club did everything in their power to keep the player, but ultimately it was beyond their control, Van Dijk proved to be a very nasty individual, that was not Saints fault.
Two seasons ago Claude Puel was not the man for the job, but he did get us to 8th and a cup final, in essence it was probably around 6th in terms of achievements in a season out of our 130 year history at least in the modern era, but that wasn't enough for some they wanted entertainment and with the club's top scorer and also top player both out injured for the second half of the season.
But this summer saw many desert the club in droves, unfairly I thought, one bad season out of five isn't bad and the club deserved the chance to show they had rectified the areas that were costing us dearly, in appointing Mark Hughes and a couple of key signings in weak areas, personally I thought that the club had done that, but many disagreed.
I hadn't any real issues with people withdrawing their support, that is their own personal choice, the only thing that hacked me off is that a large number thought that it was some sort of badge of honour to boast about it on social media, personally I don't see it that way.
In the summer I think the club failed to realise just how deep the supporters discontent was, they did nothing to try and alleviate the fans gripes, they froze season ticket prices and boasted that they had been frozen for four years.
That doesn't tell the full story though, prices were hiked up season after season under Cortese and were too high and indeed still are, after the woes of last season it needed a price cut to bring the feel good factor into the supporter base.
That didn't happen and now the club have suddenly woken up to the fact that there are going to be a lot of empty seats for some games, without 3,000 Brighton supporters it could have been far far less.
Brighton is going to be one of those games, a look at the online ticketing system reveals that this could well become the lowest crowd at St Mary's for a Premier League game ever, yes there are factors behind that, a televised game on a Monday evening is perhaps the most hated day for football amongst supporters of every club, but it is more than that.
So Saints have finally got pro active in selling tickets and are offering two deals to tempt supporters.
The first is a groupon deal where two tickets for either the Itchen or Chapel stands can be bought for £50 a saving of 24% .
The second deal is more controversial in that it is asking season ticket holders to sell tickets for them and some find this a little unsavoury in that those that have stayed loyal and paid out a big chunk of money for a season ticket have been asked to lure back those who have stopped going by buying £15 tickets for them.
Although there is a sweetener for the season ticket holder of a £6.50 food voucher it still grates for some that they are being asked by those staying aswa to let them watch the game for £15 whilst the season ticket holder himself is in real terms paying between £30 & £40 to see the same game.
I have no real issues with the reasoning behind Saints actions, they need to try and get bums on seats and to lure the waiverers back, but not at the expense of season ticket holders, there are only so many games you can do this before the cost of buying a season ticket is not cost effective against the cost of watching 19 games with a few ticket offers..
If Saints had thought this few they should have introduced a system where for every £15 ticket sold the season ticket holder gets a £15 discount of next season's ticket, this has a two fold effect, it means the season ticket holder not only does not feel alienated that someone is watching the game for half the price he is paying, but it gives him the chance to reduce the cost of his season ticket for next season therefore making it far more likely that he will renew again.
Just as much as we need to try and get the missing fans back, we need to realise that those who stayed loyal need to be looked after as well and not feel alienated.
So in answer to the headline question, Yes discounting tickets is the way forward if you don't disadvantage season ticket holders financially and therefore alienate them and have both halves of the support hacked off with the club for differing reasons.
Perhaps the American way of doing things would be the way forward where they have what is called forward pricing, that means that you take the match day price of say £38 for a game and then increase of decrease the price depending on demand. But the minimum price is always the pro rata rate a season ticket holder would pay.
So for instance someone who bought a ticket for Burnley in February now could do so for the discount price of £30, equivalent to the season ticket holder price, this would also make being a member very attractive if you made it members only till the normal period before a game.
Then the price could increase depending on demand, for Burnley as the match approached if demand became heavy then the ticket price would increase and in theory could rise to a rate higher than the normal price say £40 and could come down again in the days leading up to the match is some tickets remained unsold.
This works well in American sports and doesn't alienate season ticket holders, but encourages for fans to buy early for games they now they might want to attend.
But so far those that are responsible for ticket prices have not yet thought outside the box in setting ticket prices, either four months ago when season ticket prices were set, or now in slashing ticket prices for Brighton.
The club has made huge strides forward when it comes to trying to engage with the fanbase, but it is still a long way from where it needs to be, by forming the Saints Voice, a committee of elected Saints supporters to speak for the fans to the club of their concerns.
This is yet to truly find it's way and get underway and hopefully we will hear more soon about it (No I'm not on this panel so have no vested interest).
But ultimately what really affects the crowd is results and that is what we need to bring the fans back to the club, those of us who came to St Mary's in league one will tell you that the most satisfying thing about returning to the Premier League was having been there throughout the dark days.
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