Reasons for the rise in ticket prices given by Saints chief

PUBLISHED: 11:42 18 July 2019

St Albans fans during St Albans City vs Stevenage, Friendly Match Football at Clarence Park on 13th July 2019

St Albans fans during St Albans City vs Stevenage, Friendly Match Football at Clarence Park on 13th July 2019

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Spiralling costs and the threat to the team are the main reasons for the increase in ticket prices that has caused plenty of outrage among some St Albans City supporters according to co-owner Lawrence Levy.

Manager of St Albans Ian Allinson during St Albans City vs Stevenage, Friendly Match Football at Clarence Park on 13th July 2019Manager of St Albans Ian Allinson during St Albans City vs Stevenage, Friendly Match Football at Clarence Park on 13th July 2019

Prices to gain access to Clarence Park would rise by £3 for those paying on the gate, going up from £15 to £18.

Buying in advance, even on the day, would see a smaller rise with fans using mobile technology to buy tickets for £16.50.

And speaking with manager Ian Allinson to HertsAdSport Levy explained the rationale.

He said: "Our income levels in the club, even with sponsorship, are not sufficient to keep the club sustainable.

St Albans City FC co-owner Lawrence Levy and CWC Group director Robert Hepwood present the plans for a new Saints stadium to St Albans Chamber of Commerce.St Albans City FC co-owner Lawrence Levy and CWC Group director Robert Hepwood present the plans for a new Saints stadium to St Albans Chamber of Commerce.

"If the bar brings in £30,000 in a year, that's a great year.

"Our playing budget is roughly in excess of £200,000 and probably closer to £250,000 a year. That's a standard playing budget.

"When the club needs money, John and I get an email from our accountant saying can you put some money in.

"Generally that starts December or January but last year it started a lot earlier, around October.

St Albans FC owners John McGowan and Lawrence LevySt Albans FC owners John McGowan and Lawrence Levy

"You're not putting in £100 either. You're putting in £10,000 or £5,000 and this is a regular thing John and I do.

"We don't have the ability to generate the non-matchday income that other clubs do.

"We sat down and thought about ticket prices. We hadn't put them up in four or five years and I know there were complaints when we did that last time.

"But we wanted to do two things. We want to automate our ticketing systems and become ultimately a cashless club.

"We also wanted to bring in a membership scheme which would offer benefits to our members.

"We decided to put them up by 10 per cent to £16.50 and let's incentivise people to come in on the day.

"I originally thought people wouldn't use their phone and would still pay cash at the gate so we've put in a disincentive to make sure people pay in advance.

"So we made the on the gate price £18.

"But in actual fact everyone uses their phone these days."

Allinson added: "The bar was open on Saturday for the Stevenage game and the last time it was open was May 11 so we've just gone two months without any income.

"We spend £1,000 on water bills a month, it was £7,000 to replace the boiler and it's £12,000 a year in training costs, just so we can have an artificial surface to train on.

"It costs £3,000 to get a coach to Truro for example.

"They are some of the little things nobody sees in terms of hidden costs."

When asked could they do anything else, Allinson's reply was stark and to the point.

"Reduce the budget," he said. "That's the simple solution. We'd end up with a lot of also-ran players and we are trying to attract the right type of player.

Levy added: "That's always an option but we are trying to be a progressive club.

"We could have a no-budget situation and get relegated but then crowds would go down and even if we were charging £5 a game, we'd have a deficit.

"The whole thing is a balancing act."

They also need to appease the authorties to avoid being expelled from the league.

"Once a year we have to commit to fund the club to a level that they deem necessary," said Levy.

"They look at our revenue and our accounts so they know what we lose and then they ask John and I, to personally guarantee the losses that might be expected.

"This year we have agreed just over £100,000 between us and that includes factoring in the ticket price.

"The catastrophe of a club going bankrupt during a season is huge."

Allinson added: "At the start of the season if you haven't got anybody to do that, they will question whether you can finish.

"And if they think you can't they could say you can't even start.

"It happened a few years ago when Salisbury City went bust at the start of the season and the league ran with 21 teams.

"And they do that at stages throughout the year. This is where Truro have come into trouble in the past."

It was also confirmed that a fans forum would take place at the club on Thursday, August 1. More details on that will be published by the club.

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