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Opinion

Newcastle United owners have got the pricing wrong this time

8 months ago
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I know that for many fans, any criticism of the Newcastle United owners is a big no no.

Well, this isn’t even really a criticism…

More a case of simply pointing out that the Newcastle United owners might have got something wrong, misjudged it.

On Friday (7 July), the club announced details of the two home pre-season friendlies:

The schedule for the Sela Cup, presented by VisitMalta, is:

Saturday, 5th August
Villarreal CF v OGC Nice (kick-off 12:30pm BST)
Newcastle United v ACF Fiorentina (kick-off 3:30pm BST)
Newcastle United Women v West Bromwich Albion Women (kick-off 6pm BST)

Sunday, 6th August
OGC Nice v ACF Fiorentina (kick-off 1pm BST)
Newcastle United v Villarreal CF (kick-off 4pm BST)

TICKET INFORMATION

‘Day tickets for Saturday or Sunday will be priced at £30 for adults and £15 for concessions.

Weekend tickets will be priced at £55 for adults and £25 for concessions. This package is available until Monday, 31st July and to secure the discount, both games must be purchased together and contain an equal quantity of tickets at the same age band (eg one adult ticket for Saturday bought with a junior for Sunday will not qualify as a package).

Matchday prices will be £35 for adults and £20 concessions, strictly subject to availability. These games are anticipated to be busy and supporters are encouraged to buy early to secure tickets.’

I must admit, I thought the prices were a bit over the top but thought I would check on what was the case 12 months earlier.

Almost exactly a year earlier (5 July 2022), Newcastle United announced a similar double header of home pre-season friendlies:

A 7.45pm kick-off on Friday 29 July against Serie A club Atalanta, then 3pm for the La Liga Basque outfit Athletic Bilbao on Saturday 30 July.

As for pricing of these Newcastle United friendlies tickets, some fans were upset that the new Newcastle United owners were charging £20 and £10 concessions for each pre-season home game (£35 adult and £15 concessions packages if you bought both friendlies).

Fifteen minutes ahead of those home friendlies going on sale in July 2022, NUFC Twitter fan account Toon For Change posted this photo:

Whilst when I was getting tickets online myself, that same morning I logged onto the Newcastle United ticket site at 10am…

 

A friend of mine joined the queue a little later and he was 13,000+ to get hold of those pre 2022/23 season friendly tickets.

At those prices of £20 and £10 concessions for each of the pre 2022/23 friendlies and £35 and £15 concessions if you bought both, when things calmed down after the initial queues, we saw St James’ Park crowds of 40,596 against Atalanta on Friday 29 July 2022 and 46,856 against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday 30 July 2022.

Very good crowds I would say. Good opposition in both games but not exciting opponents that any Newcastle fan would have been paying specifically to see.

For the upcoming pre 2023/24 season friendlies, I would say at best, Fiorentina and Villarreal are no better than same level as last summer, when it comes to attracting NUFC fans to come and watch games. Basically, Newcastle United fans will be paying to come and watch their own team.

So anyway those £20 and £10 concession prices of July 2022, have now become £30 and £15.

Whilst the two day price has gone from £35 and £15 concessions in 2022, to now £55 and £25.

So say if you are a family of four, two adults and two kids, last summer it was £60 to watch one Newcastle friendly and now it is £90.

For say one adult and one kid / concession it was £50 for the two NUFC friendly package last summer, now it has risen to £80.

I think the Newcastle United owners have got this one wrong.

The demand for any competitive Newcastle United match has now gone through the roof BUT a friendly is a friendly. It would be different maybe if you had real glamorous opposition with big name players but that simply isn’t the case. This is very much just a chance for fans, especially families / kids, to get along and fill St James’ Park for an outing in the summer holidays, before the proper stuff kicks off a week later.

I know it is dressed up as a pre-season tournament BUT absolutely nobody would have been willing to pay extra if having the choice, to also have the other Nice, Villarreal and Fiorentina matches that don’t involve Newcastle United, thrown in as well.

No disrespect either to the Newcastle United women’s team BUT the fact remains that for their competitive matches at St James’ Park, it has only been a few quid to watch them. I think a great idea to have them playing as well BUT not if then used to try and justify the vastly increased prices.

When these pre 2023/24 season friendlies went on sale, I didn’t see any significant queues either in person at the box office or online.

Considering how well the team have done finishing fourth and Champions League imminent, plus both friendlies this time through the day on a weekend, I think fair to say that the expectation would have been to easily have higher crowds than was the case for the July 2022 Newcastle United friendlies.

Instead, having looked online at the ticket sales so far, I can’t see these Newcastle United friendlies getting even anywhere close to last July’s crowds.

I hope I am proved wrong.

I don’t have a massive problem with the club charging whatever prices, within reason, if demand exceeds supply. It is the way of the world and does mean maximising money into the club.

However, if the pricing leaves tens of thousands of friendly tickets unsold, then it is a massive negative.

My understanding was that the Newcastle United owners had senior staff regularly meeting NUST committee members (and other NUFC fans?) on a regular basis, well if these prices for Newcastle United friendlies have been discussed with fans who told the club they were a good idea, then maybe a wider range of Newcastle supporters need to be consulted on these type of issues.

I think the price of tickets for Newcastle United friendlies look even more bizarre when you consider the recent announcement from the Newcastle United owners on prices of cup tickets for next season:

So, an adult ticket for one friendly costs the same as one for an FA Cup match, whilst in the Carabao Cup it equates to what and adult AND child would pay???

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