Cheapest season ticket | Most expensive season ticket
1) Manchester City: £299 1) Arsenal: £1995
9) Fulham: £449 4) Fulham: £999
20) Arsenal: £985 20) Hull: £405
Cheapest matchday ticket | Most expensive matchday ticket
1) Newcastle : £15 1) Arsenal : £126
18) Fulham: £20 4) Fulham: £75
20) Chelsea: £41 20) Hull: £30
Published recently, the ticket price table highlights some rather surprising statistics and places Fulham as somewhat average when compared to the rest of the league.
A table that you would think presents a correlation between the expectations / success rate of a club and the high prices you would expect to pay to witness it first hand, are contradicted by 2012 Premier League champions Manchester City, whose season ticket price is incredibly cheaper than League 2′s Newport County.
As aforementioned, the prices at the Cottage are relatively average. What is interesting however is the extent to which the polar opposites are divided. £999 for a season ticket is, in my opinion, far too much to pay to watch any team at any level. Fulham do combat this however by offering a more reasonably priced season ticket costing £449, but why is there such a drastic difference in price? The same goes for the match day prices. Fans can pay a high-end £75, or alternatively £20, depending on where they sit in the stadium. So what is the difference?
Well, as is the way with grounds that feature large poles, ‘restricted viewing’ areas offer tickets at discounted prices for obvious reasons. Fulham’s cheapest seats, as expected, are located on the edges of each of the four stands. From here season ticket prices begin to average out with the Hammersmith End offering the cheapest, followed by the Johnny Haynes Stand, and then the Riverside.
It is from here however that we move to the second, and real reason, as to why there is such a difference in price. Coined the ‘Prawn Sandwich Brigade’ by ex Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane, the centre of the Riverside stand – namely VL, WL, W – is where the corporation seats are situated – the seats that cost an extravagant £999.
No longer new to the world of football, with each Premier League ground featuring its own equivalent, corporation seating presents the games progression from a working class sport, to a world-wide money making industry. From a business perspective the change is positive as higher prices mean more revenue for the club, but with season ticket prices continuing to rise, how long will it be until the traditional fan is forced from the club in place of further corporation?
If the divide is maintained this won’t happen. As long as the popularity for high priced seating at the Cottage does not influence regular seating prices, then I have absolutely nothing against a fan who wishes to spend their money on what they consider to be the best and most expensive seat in the ground.
In some ways this divide is being respected as a £550 difference between the most expensive and the cheapest season ticket on offer at the club is huge. In other ways it isn’t however, as this difference does not acknowledge the fact that both the high end price and low end price have increased since last year – deeming the difference, in some sense, irrelevant.
Is it all doom and gloom? I don’t think so. Like most problems in life that instigate public annoyance, solutions, or compromises at the very least, usually surface to make things feel a little better. Stoke City, who recently announced that they were providing their fans with free travel to away games for the entire season, have taken a positive step to combat the problem.
In some ways Fulham have already followed Stoke’s lead, as those who travelled away to Sunderland recently will know. With coach travel to the North-East paid for by the club, fans enjoyed free breakfast and lunch before each being given their own free Fulham shirt. A great gesture from the chairman, and a hopeful indication that the club does indeed acknowledge its traditional fan base.