One Premier League club has taken the very progressive step of ensuring that all their travelling fans will pay no more than £22 for all away tickets in the coming season.
If you are clued up, you should be able to guess which one.
If you are not clued up then I’ll give you a clue, it’s not Newcastle United!
Yes, step forward Swansea City, who have decided to subsidise all away tickets, so that their fans spend a maximum of £22 if they are an adult, kids only £10 and other concessions £15.
Altogether they estimate the deal will save fans a minimum of £300,000.
When I said no surprise which club, the reason is simple.
Swansea City are owned by fans, 20% of the club is owned by ‘ordinary fans’ through the supporters trust, whilst the other 80% is owned by businessmen who are also fans. All of them coming together when the club was on its knees not very long ago, putting in the money to save and bu the club, leading to what they have today.
If ever there was a club that shows up Mike Ashley’s cynical running of Newcastle United, it is Swansea City.
Apart from looking after the supporters with initiatives such as today’s. They show ambition on and off the pitch to try and make their club the very best it can be.
Pursuing the best commercial deals instead of an owner who takes free advertising for the benefit of himself and his retail empire.
Swansea’s net spending easily outstripping Newcastle’s despite a far smaller turnover, with players such as Wilfried Bony, Bafetimbi Gomis and Andre Ayew ending up in Wales as Ashley wouldn’t compete for them.
On the pitch, Swansea won the League Cup two years ago, whilst under Mike Ashley the club policy is to get out of the cups as quick as possible by playing weakened teams.
Then in the Premier League, due to their progressive and ambitious policies they ended up finishing 8th last season, 17 points clear of Newcastle. They are now an established Premier League club and have league finishes of 8th, 12th and 9th in the last three seasons.
In contrast, Newcastle have almost been relegated in two of the last three seasons.
Swansea’s announcement today
In a new fan initiative, the club has agreed to subsidise the price of every ticket for all away fixtures in the Barclays Premier League this season purchased through its Jack Army membership scheme.
It means the Swans will remain true to its pledge that no adult will pay more than £22 for any away fixture this season, while concession prices will be capped at a maximum of £15 and kids just £10.
With adult ticket prices at some grounds costing in excess of £50, the club’s subsidy is set to amount to a £300,000 saving for supporters across the 2015-16 campaign.
“As a fan-owned club, we are well aware of how expensive it is to follow the team to away games, especially with the increasing transport costs,’’ added Swans Supporters Trust Director, Huw Cooze.
“But this ‘True to 22’ pledge means an adult can now watch every one of our away games in the Premier League for a total price of £418. That’s more than £250 cheaper per adult than the amount we believe it would cost this season without our subsidy.’’
***Much is made by Newcastle of their ‘reciprocal ticket’ policy. With this they agree with opposition clubs to reduce prices for certain matches, meaning a lower price is paid both when Newcastle play home and away to that particular club, benefiting fans of both clubs.
However, this has been entirely funded by the Premier League away fans initiative. To try and encourage more away fans, every Premier League club was allocated £200,000 per year from the central funds for three seasons (2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16) to fund free buses, cheaper tickets etc, the money has to be spent on something that stimulates more away fans going to games.
Mike Ashley mostly targeted clubs that usually bring the fewest fans such as Southampton, West Brom and Swansea, in the hope that lower prices would bring both more away and home fans to St James Park for those games. Rather than say a match against Sunderland which will always be a sellout, instead charging the best part of £50 for when Sunderland visit.
Swansea are doing something that will hopefully embarrass other clubs into acting in a similar way.
It is sheer greed what is being charged now, considering the size of the TV deals. Then in a year’s time the TV income will grow further by tens of millions for every Premier League club, so if it sheer greed at the moment…I’m not quite sure what you will be able to call it then.
Swansea achieve everything they do despite bringing in tens of millions of pounds less a season than Newcastle, their home crowds only around 40% of NUFC’s and of course their wider fanbase far smaller as well than United’s.
When people say ‘careful what you wish for’ when Newcastle fans say they want rid of Mike Ashley, they really do need to give themselves a shake.
A club like Swansea shows up Ashley’s running of Newcastle for what it is. Just imagine if NUFC was run on the same lines as the Welsh club but with all those extra resources to throw at it…