Date: 20th April 2014 at 7:23pm
Written by:

Last month, the club consulted Season Ticket holders on proposals for season ticket price rises for next season.

The Dons Trust have apparently been contemplating undertaking a comprehensive consultation exercise on ticket pricing for some time now but in setting budgets for next season the club needed an immediate answer. So they went ahead with their own survey.

In introducing the idea in the Chesterfield programme (reproduced on the Official Site at http://www.afcwimbledon.co.uk/news/article/eriks-page-1415969.aspx), Erik was quite clear: “This isn’t ‘We are putting prices up’ but ‘How would you feel about us putting prices up by a specified amount that would make a difference?'”

In the survey emailed out a few days later, however, the emphasis was quite different. It was also revealed that the “specified amount that would make a difference” was a whopping 15% price rise!

I was unimpressed by the tone of the survey: telling season ticket holders you are considering putting prices up by 15% and asking ‘Will you still renew your season ticket; yes/no?’ conveys the underlying thinking behind the approach which seems to be to push prices as high as possible but just short of being prohibitively expensive for most.

Although I ticked ‘yes’, I would renew, that does not imply any support for an inflation-busting 15% price increase which would see our top season tickets become more expensive than the highest priced season tickets at some Premier League clubs this season! (Hull’s most expensive season ticket is £405, while WBA’s top ticket is £449 according to this: Click Here).

Surely the more appropriate question would have been more along the lines of ‘Would you support a 15% season ticket price rise; yes/no?’ That’s the more crucial issue: do you consider the proposal is reasonable and justified – not will you still cough up anyway!

Some might argue this would be like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas but I think your average Wimbledon supporter is a little bit more discerning and appreciates the bigger picture.

Yes, we punch about our weight financially and by rights we should be candidates for relegation each season based on our playing budget, which at around £1m is in the bottom 5 in the League.

Yes, there are some bigger calls on the club’s finances – such as the drive to achieve EPPP category 3 status, the development of proposals for a new Community Stadium at Plough Lane, or more immediate investment into revenue-generating facilities at Kingsmeadow, which represent a longer term investment than, say, paying a striker’s wages for the next 6 months.

And as Erik says: “This is about the bigger picture, not short-term objectives or recent results.” I’m not convinced that simply driving ticket prices sky high is the right approach.

Will this not hit donations to the ‘We Are Wimbledon’ fund? The fund aims to top up the club’s playing budget by up to £400k per season through regulation donations bit it hasn’t quite had the desired impact and currently (only) rakes in an extra £60k per season through regular donations.

In other programme notes, Erik has previously complained that the WAW fund, although adding to the club’s playing budget, has also diverted revenue from other areas of the club. As the WAW funds are ring-fenced to the first team playing budget, the Plc Board has no discretion over where to direct this cash. Given this, I wonder whether a big price rise represents a move by the Plc Board to regain control of the club’s finances.

A large season ticket price rise hitting 2-3,000 season ticket holders will be more effective at generating extra revenue and, while WAW donations may suffer, if the effect of this is to simply move revenue from targeted funds into general income, over which the Plc Board has discretion, then I can see the temptation for the Plc Board to see this as a happy side effect – where the Dons Trust board stands on all of this isn’t clear, as far as I can see.

When my season ticket renewal forms hit my doormat a couple of weeks ago, it seems that, in the event, the club has proceeded with a 10% season ticket price rise. Only a cynic would speculate that the ‘consultation’ exercise was merely a matter of managing expectations – when you raise season tickets prices by “only 10%”, after asking views on a 15% price rise, it looks more palatable and you can claim that you’ve listened to what people had to say.

I posted off my renewal post today, along with a new applicant form for my son, who’s now old enough to start coming to games more regularly. What does that tell you? Football fans are mugs and will pay as much as they can afford to follow their club. I would have hoped the club I own would stand out in not abusing this loyalty.

Given the increased cost, I will certainly have to look again at whether I can afford to continue contributing to the ‘We Are Wimbledon’ fund in future. It’s a shame, really. I was rather looking forward to buying a brand new Admiral kit!

This site is looking for bloggers, so if a fan can offer us a genuine opinion from someone that supports them we would love to share it with the masses!

To email your own unique article/blog for publishing
***CLICK HERE***

Join The Vital Debate