Having attended every home game since around the age of five, and since the age of twelve only missed a handful of away matches here and abroad, I feel that I can write this piece with some justification given the recent announcement by Everton that they have made the decision to take a reduced allocation of tickets for our fans for our next fixture at Loftus Road on March 3rd.
This season, taking an average ticket price of £32 per game which is a reasonable price for an adult ticket to watch a top flight football match I will spend around £608.00 on match tickets for away matches alone. Throw in travel costs and before I even begin to take into account food and drink costs whilst away I am looking at a spend of around £1500.00 plus to see my beloved Everton play away from home.
Don't get me wrong here, everyone reading this will probably ask "well why do you do it? You don't have to do you?" and I won't disagree. But, I want to. Everton Football Club are a way of life for me. Everything in my life revolves around Everton from my holidays, what I do at weekends, everything. Plus, I actually really enjoy it - the travelling, the banter with the lads, seeing weird and wonderful places that I never would have known existed were it not for Everton. Finally, the loyalty rewards. We are 90 minutes away from Wembley and obviously there will be some sort of ticketing priority scheme as there were in 2009.
Anyway, Queens Park Rangers.
Last week, Everton released this statement clarifying the decision to take 1,700 tickets for the game at Loftus Road one week Saturday. The way the ticketing arrangement works between clubs usually is the away side purchase a full allocation of tickets offered by the home side. Then, any tickets which are not sold by the away side are sent back to the home side for re-sale to home fans/away fans who travel on the day etc. and the monetary difference is sorted automatically between clubs. QPR have decided this isn't going to be the case.
What QPR have done is told Everton that any tickets we decide to take to sell to our fans would be given on a "guaranteed sale only basis." This means any unsold cannot be returned and not refunded. The away end at Loftus Road is two-tiered. The upper tier holds 1,700 supporters and the lower 1,300. If that's their perogative then fine, but then you go and put a price on each ticket of.......... £45.00. Not only that, but you then try and mask it by saying for every adult attending an Under 8 can go for free. Get a grip!
First of all, I only expect to pay above £40.00 for "big" games, i.e. Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea - established Premier League teams with good grounds which Everton fans want to go to. And that is just above £40.00.
Secondly, I really don't know who QPR think they are!! They were promoted in May after years out of the top flight. They are not a West Ham United or a Wolves, a yo-yo club, they left the Premier League in 1996 (when I was 13) and sunk even lower before finally returning by winning the Championship FIFTEEN years later (I was 28 when they won the league last season). Most of the current Premier League clubs don't even dream of charging what they are charging away fans to attend a game. The most expensive in the league are Chelsea, which is probably to be expected given they are located in the "richest" part of the UK, Arsenal, which is again to be expected given their location, history, and fantastic new stadium, and West Brom, which is unexpected but then its only just over an hour away.
The ground itself I went to back when Craven Cottage was being rennovated. Its an old style ground which is very tight, close to the pitch and creates a good atmosphere - the sort of ground I look forward to going to. However, thats about it. Theres obstructed views everywhere, the access to it is poor, and at six foot five inches tall I dont reckon I'll be fitting into them seats without the poor chap in front of me having his shoulder blades replaced by my knee caps!
The train fare on 3rd March from Liverpool Lime Street to London Euston was at cheapest £78 return making the trip to watch my team cost the sum of AT LEAST £128.00. Add on food, drink, travel in London and you're touching £200.00.
I really hope QPR go down this season. I don't like Mark Hughes. I don't like their new owner and his obsession with Twitter and the media, I don't like Paddy Kenny, Anton Ferdinand and I think Shaun Derry is just weird. And I don't like being ripped off. So, QPR, I hope a reality check is in order this season, you dive like a kamikaze World War II pilot into the Championship and see if the likes of Scunthorpe, Burnley, and Bristol City will stump up £45.00 each.
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