On behalf of all York City fans, the Supporters’ Trust calls on the club board to rethink the ticket prices published yesterday. Whilst we would not normally comment on operational matters, the overwhelming feedback from fans has raised some serious concerns.
In December 2020, the Trust gave consent to the stadium lease and matchday agreement on the basis that it represented a positive step forward for the club’s commercial viability. As widely publicised by the club over many years, the reduced overheads and new income opportunities were expected to put the club on a more secure financial footing going forwards. In that context, the substantial price increases faced by some fans seem unjustifiable.
Lack of discount offers and group options
With price increases of up to 50%, a huge opportunity to attract new fans and encourage old fans back is likely to be lost. The lack of early bird, young adult, family or group discounts will make supporting the club unaffordable for too many fans. The new digital ticketing system should easily facilitate fans paying in instalments, but the lack of such an offer is yet another missed opportunity. Our average attendances have decreased by 30% in the past 8 years and this downward trend is now likely to continue.
Price hike is a false economy
We’ve heard from many long-standing supporters, some of whom have held season tickets for over 50 years, saying they just can’t afford to renew this season. At a time when many fans are struggling financially, an increase from £14 to £20 for those that have tirelessly supported the club from the David Longhurst stand for decades is unacceptable. The overwhelming feedback is that prices are simply too high for the Tier 6 product on offer. Given the various new match day income streams, the pricing policy appears to be a false economy.
Transport & Parking
It is clear that perceptions surrounding transport and parking at the LNER Community Stadium are a significant barrier to many fans continuing to support the club. The lack of information from the either the football club or City of York Council has only helped to fuel those concerns. The Supporters’ Trust has been gathering the relevant information from various parties and will publish a travel and parking guide shortly.
The club’s £105 seasonal parking pass directly contradicts an assurance the Trust received that the club’s 400 spaces would be provided on a match by match basis. The seasonal pass clearly favours those that can afford to pay in advance. The “all the best” message is loud and clear to everyone else.
Given Vangarde’s recent announcement that parking would be available for 6 hours on matchdays (with validation of a minimum £5 spend) the club’s parking charge policy is also rather uncompetitive.
Inaccurate pricing and technical issues
Fans have reported that the launch of season ticket sales have been far from smooth, with the advertised prices not being correctly reflected on the ticketing website, fans not receiving the relevant codes from the club and the helpline not being answered. Those previously holding multiple season tickets have also been limited to buying only one. This poor customer experience will undoubtedly contribute to a further reduction in take up.
2019/20 Season Ticket ‘Resolution’
Last year we understand that the vast majority of 2019/20 season ticket holders waived their right to a refund on the basis of various commitments made by the club in a statement on 18th August 2020. Many have reported that they have since heard nothing. We call on the club to honour their pledges to these dedicated fans at the earliest opportunity.
Not too late to think again
The Trust recognises that the move to the new stadium may present a degree of uncertainty in preparing budgets for the season. However, the ticket pricing policy clearly illustrates a growing disconnect between the club board and its loyal supporters. The substantial average price increases will only serve to alienate the club’s core support, dissuade family groups, outprice young adults and ultimately undermine the viability of the club.
Any price increases should be fair, proportionate and affordable. Introducing a ‘bums on seats’ approach would reap much greater rewards and so we call on the club board to think again urgently.