Last season Newcastle United were one of only 2 clubs in the Premier League (alongside Manchester City) not to publicise a clear policy on ticket pricing.
They do not categorise the 19 opponents to visit St James’ Park into groups and state how each group will be priced in each area of the stadium. Every other club had this detail on their website from the start of the season.
I sent a question to the last fans forum to ask why this is, but it wasn’t included, at least not in the minutes released. The situation has continued into this season and it makes it difficult to see how ticket prices are evolving at the club.
To allow a comparison to be made, for every home game last season I recorded the ticket prices in the Gallowgate, Leazes end & East Stand. The major revelation by the end of the season was that in some locations it was actually cheaper to buy single tickets for every game than it was to have a season ticket.
I’ve continued the process this season and for the first 3 games found that ticket prices had not changed. Southampton prices matched last season exactly. Arsenal tickets didn’t go on public sale last season, but the member prices this season matched the member price from last season. Watford, of course, didn’t visit us last year (more on the strange pricing strategy for this game later on).
But with today’s Chelsea game, the first clear change in ticket pricing has become evident. To the clubs credit, it’s a price reduction, However, the reduction will only benefit those who aren’t season ticket holders (obviously) or members (unfortunately).
Here’s the comparison.
It can be seen that across all age groups ticket prices for members of the general public have been reduced between 4% and 11%
Whenever I write about ticket prices at the club I receive many comments back. It’s one of the areas I get most opposition on my views, because the perception is that under Ashley prices are coming down and that’s a good thing.
Here again, prices have come down and I’ve no doubt commenters will state that this is unequivocally a good thing. However, to be clear, my issue is not with a price reduction.
As the Chelsea example shows, ticket price reductions for the public are not reflected in ticket price reductions either for season ticket holders or members. The most dedicated fans might assume they are getting the better deal but in fact, it’s not always true. 2014/2015 season tickets in the East Stand for an adult were £710, Membership and 19 singles in the same area would cost £673 and if you give a season ticket holding friend or member the money to buy you a ticket for the derby then you’d still see all games for £704. As mentioned, we already knew this situation existed, where a casual supporter pays less than one committing their hard-earned cash to supporting the club longer term, but this is exacerbated by the further reductions described above targeted only at the casual fans.
The complete lack of transparency over ticket pricing at Newcastle means any price fluctuations go under the radar of anybody not willing to cross check every individual ticket price season after season.
In Mike Ashley’s shop (and now the Newcastle club shop) prices are inconsistent by design in order to confuse and mislead. This approach seems to be getting duplicated for Newcastle tickets. Occasional £5 ticket offers give the impression of good value and are widely publicised to generate as much positive perception as possible, but in reality only serve to complicate matters.
Here are some examples of last season’s junior ticket prices in the Gallowgate – £5 Man City, £13 West Ham, £15 Burnley, £18 Everton & £23 Chelsea.
Chelsea should be the top priced ticket, but other than that none of those prices that make any sense to me in relation to each other. Each of these tickets may very well provide good value individually, but if I have a budget and can go to see one game, I might logically assume that Burnley would be a cheaper option than Man City, and without the means to compare, I’d have to go on that assumption.
This brings me back to those Watford tickets. The situation looks to have worsened this year with Newcastle seeming to have introduced yet another price band for their recent visit. It places them above the prices paid for the West Brom, West Ham, Hull, Leicester, QPR and Aston Villa games last season.
I can’t understand what puts Watford in a higher strata than any of these other clubs? Why would Southampton and Arsenal ticket prices be unchanged, Chelsea reduced and Watford introduced at a 15% premium?
The club should be strongly encouraged to formalise and publicise a logical pricing structure that allows supporters to make informed choices and transparently shows the saving that committing to Newcastle United long-term provides.
My completed overview of 2014/2015 ticket prices remains available here.
My ongoing overview of 2015/2016 ticket prices is being updated here.