Fans furious as St Albans City announce ticket price hike
- Credit: Archant
Football fans have exploded in fury after St Albans City announced a price hike to watch their heroes.
The National League South club, who play in the sixth tier of English Football, have said that adults paying on the door at Clarence Park will now pay £18 on the door - 20 per cent higher than last season's £15 charge.
It is the highest price in the division and does not compare favourably with nearby league clubs.
Luton Town's prices during their run to the League One title last season began at £18 and only rose to £26 depending on the opposition.
The prices, which also see concessions pay £12 and U16s £8, apply to all league, FA qualifying rounds and county senior cups.
Should Saints reach the first round proper of the FA Cup then the on the gate price for adults increases to £20.
People who join the club's membership scheme or who buy tickets in advance will get them slightly cheaper at £15.50 and £16.50 respectively.
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According to the brief statement on the club's website the decision was made because "the club operates at a substantial loss every season and the costs of running the club (excluding players) continue to increase".
But while the increase itself was not wholly unexpected, the official announcement has brought derision from the supporters with fans besieging social media in the hours after the announcement.
One person said: "Supporters feel alienated and away supporters will boycott our home games. Will the increases prices see a larger playing budget and better players? No. Bad decision."
Another said: "Why does the club feel it necessary to have a membership scheme? Not needed for average crowds of 800."
And a third added: "Those prices are far too high for the level and quality on show. Pretty sure every club in NLS makes a loss too but I don't see them over charging their fans?"
Even supporters of other National League South clubs lambasted the increase.
One fan of Dulwich Hamlet call the decision "deluded" before adding "that's one club I'll remember to avoid the away game for next season" while a Tonbridge Angels supporter said it was an "absolute joke".
The two supporters' organisations at the club released a joint statement condemning the increase.
It said: "Stand By Your Saints and the Saints City Trust wish to make it clear that we strongly oppose the new ticket pricing structure, believing that it will have a detrimental effect on both fans and match day revenue.
"Members of both organisations met with Lawrence Levy [co-owner of the club] and Leigh Page [club secretary] to discuss the proposed pricing structure for the coming season.
"In addition to expressing significant concerns regarding the proposals, we put suggestions to the club whereby revenue could be increased and savings on outlay made without increasing match day prices.
"We are all grateful to the owners for the commitment they show by underpinning the running costs of the club. But we fear that the huge contribution a family club can make to the community, making match days accessible to all fans, will be undermined by the price increases.
"We acknowledge that discounts are available for those who are able to buy in advance on line but this will still exclude groups of people, often the very people we would like to welcome to Clarence Park.
"The revenue raised on match days via the club shop, ground raffle and bar takings will, we believe, will be impacted on by the admission price increase.
"We urge the football club to reconsider this matter."
Lawrence Levy, however, wanted to encourage fans to look at buying tickets earlier than usual.
Speaking on his way to a league meeting, he told HertsAdSport: "The overheads and cost of running the club went up last season.
"But we are encouraging people to buy tickets in advance for a lower cost, which they can do from their phones and on the morning of the game.
"If people still want to buy on the day they can but we are also encouraging them to buy a membership."
He also said he hoped to hold a fans forum before the season started and agreed to give a full and frank interview with HertsAdSport on all aspects of the club at a later date.