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Foxed Off – Rovers Fans Frozen Out of ‘Fans Fixture’

 

Remember the good old days? Remember when you could go to the football, have a few pints beforehand, have a pie at half-time, stop off for fish and chips on the way home and still have change from a fiver? No, neither do I. Modern day football is expensive. Therefore these halcyon, and to an extent made-up, times of cheap and easily affordable professional football matches are set to remain a relic of times (and imaginations) past. That is until now. All praise Leicester City who have announced that this Saturday’s match is a Fans Fixture with heavily discounted entry for all at the Walkers Stadium. Yep come one, come all and get in cheaply… unless you support Doncaster Rovers.

 

Leicester City’s club website has been boasting about this weekend’s imminent Fans Fixture, like a work colleague who won’t shut up about their up-coming skiing trip, crow-barring a mention of the incentive and the game into each and every news story in the last eight days. However, save for a small “Local Promotion Only” sub heading three lines down on the initial proud announcement of “The return of the fans fixture” the Foxes have not been so keen to advertise that this only applies to those fans decked in blue.

 

Tickets for Leicester City supporters for this game are priced at £10 for adults, £5 for under 18s, and £1 for under 8s. In addition to this, season ticket holders at the Walkers Stadium can purchase tickets for family and friends at a further reduced cost of £6 adults, £4 for under 18s, and £1 for under 8s. So a couple of weeks ago, having heard Leicester City had a cheap ticket deal running for this game, I rang up the Keepmoat Stadium to get my place secured early. Expecting to pay £20 for my two adult tickets I was more than a little surprised to be charged a significantly more expensive £52.

So while Leicester fans will be streaming in with their loose change rattling in their pockets the pricing structure for Rovers fans attending this game remains as follows and you can add £2 more on to each of these charges if you have the audacity to try and pay on the day;

£26   Adults
£22   Seniors 60+
£16   Under 22’s
£10   Under 18’s
£5    Under 12’s
£3    Under 8’s

There are two questions to be asked here and the first, ‘is this fair?’ can be given a definite and short two word answer. The second, ‘how is this allowed?’ leads to a decidedly more complex answer. Clubs in the Championship are permitted by the Football League to offer up to four price promotions a season in an effort to increase attendances. However, there is no Football League ruling which insists that offers should apply to both home and away fans, instead its up to clubs themselves to weigh up the moral implications.

Doncaster Rovers have already offered promotional ticket discounts at two matches this season, with both November home fixtures – against Millwall and Swansea City respectively – subject to special offers. On each the club endeavoured to made tickets for away fans cheaper. The match against Swansea City saw over 13,600, including around 700 visiting supporters, take advantage of a £10 adult and £1 child ticket offer. At the previous home game against Millwall Rovers did run a ‘family discount’ offer for two adults and two children which was available only to home supporters, but to give balance the club did afford the game category ‘C’ status enabling fans of both clubs to purchase adult tickets for £15.

The Football Supporters’ Federation has been made aware of the pricing issue at Leicester City this Saturday and in correspondence with one Rovers fan the FSF have made it known that they fully support the use of ‘Community Days’ as a way of reducing prices for particular games” and applauds clubs for introducing them. However the FSF went on to add that their only complaint against such days centres on “clubs [which] do not offer these discounts to Away Supporters. [The FSF] cannot understand why clubs would treat what are in effect their guests for the day in this way.”

This not the first time a club has made ticket price special offers only available to home fans and the FSF has already been working to challenge this concept. To date they have been using the indeterminate nature of the Football League’s own policy against them by making the case that the Football League’s ruling on discounted tickets (printed below) is at odds with their own Anti Discrimination Policy.

“Discounts or special promotions (in each case for one match only) made available to supporters of the Home Club must also be made available on a similar basis to visiting supporters provided always that each Club shall be permitted to designate four (4) matches per season as ‘local promotion’ Matches where this regulation shall be deemed not to apply.”

It was this argument which enabled the FSF to set a precedent on this very issue last month for the League One match between Huddersfield Town and MK Dons. Supporters of the Dons travelled to Huddersfield for a League One game having paid £21 for a ticket only to discover that home fans were being charged just a third of that price. Now whilst I and others would be of the view that this is a perfectly acceptable way to treat those who choose to follow MK Dons, it is the wider implications which are significant here.

Following an appeal from the MK Dons Supporters Association working with the FSF Huddersfield Town decided three hours before kick-off to drop the price for away fans to £7 to bring it in line with the cost for home fans. Huddersfield subsequently took the decision to refund the difference those fans who had already paid the pre-advertised  full price to attend. However, the fact that MK Dons supporters only counted for 87 of the 12,773 crowd in attendance for the game will presumably have made that decision easier to make.

Though the FSF have now been in touch with Leicester City regarding the price of tickets for Doncaster Rovers supporters this coming Saturday the Foxes have as yet shown no inclination they are set for a change of heart. According to feedback from the FSF’s communication with Leicester City the club are convinced that as they are playing by the League’s rules there is no issue here  and as Rovers ticket sales are poor (708 out of an allocation of 999 at the time of writing) they feel that cutting the price won’t change much.

Obviously this defence misses the point somewhat in that many Rovers fans have discovered that they are to be charged more than two and half times as much as home fans and have duly chosen not to attend in principle. Over on the Viking Supporters Co-operative messageboard many Rovers fans have declared they will not attend the game in view of the pricing policy, whilst many others claim they have already secured tickets for the home sections of the stadium. The latter of these approaches is of course an inevitable consequence of having such significantly higher prices for away fans.

So, what is the upshot of this? Leicester City will without doubt have an increased home attendance for this game and the added home fans coupled with an effective price-imposed limit on away attendance they are also likely to benefit from a heightened match atmosphere as well. However, they have also increased the likelihood for trouble as should Rovers find the net the sight of many a person in the home end jumping for joy is not likely to sit easy with the natives, as we have experienced ourselves in matches against Leeds United at the Keepmoat Stadium.

It seems that City are unlikely to renege on their decision and offer discount to away supporters, despite the news that Leicester Supporters Group the Foxes Trust have vowed to raise the issue in a meeting with the club today. As such it falls on Rovers fans to make their displeasure known and ensure that Leicester’s failure to offer this ticket incentive to away fans becomes as widely acknowledged as their official media’s hype of their kindly ‘fans fixture’ promotion. A “club-initiated supporter-focused match” is how Leicester City’s website termed this fixture, but their effective discrimination against anyone without an LE postcode certainly challenges the notion of ‘supporter-focused’.

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Discussion

10 thoughts on “Foxed Off – Rovers Fans Frozen Out of ‘Fans Fixture’

  1. While I agree with the gist of the story, somebody told me earlier this week that the Football League recently revealed that Doncaster Rovers did the same thing twice last season – discounted tickets for home fans and full price for away fans.

    I am going to Leicester tomorrow and have paid full price. Do I resent paying more than home fans? Definitely. Can I complain about a club doing it when my club do the same thing? Absolutely not.

    Posted by Wayne | December 10, 2010, 3:13 pm
  2. I’d be surprised if that was the case Wayne… I’ve mentioned the two offers this season in the article, but cannot recall any cheap ticket offers for home games last season. And I usually take advantage of them too as I’m no longer a season ticket holder

    Posted by glenglenglen | December 10, 2010, 3:35 pm
  3. I’m a season ticket holder at Leicester, I don’t mind Leicester fans getting in cheaper than I do for 4 games of the season, after all if we win the games they may come back which in the long run is for the good of my club.

    Why should an away fan get in cheaper than a season ticket holder?

    Just get over it and yourselves.

    Posted by Hackneyfox | December 10, 2010, 3:43 pm
  4. Bristol City last season was a £5 discount. I don’t have the other game to hand at the moment.

    Posted by Wayne | December 10, 2010, 4:01 pm
  5. Hackneyfox,

    Its not a question of away fans getting cheaper than season ticket holders, but of away fans getting in for the same price as home fans choosing to attend the game.

    I’d be disappointed if Wayne is right and Rovers didn’t offer discounts to away fans last season. My point here is that clubs shouldn’t be able to charge away fans more than home fans hence flagging up the MK Dons at Huddersfield issue.

    Posted by glenglenglen | December 10, 2010, 4:07 pm
  6. glenglenglen

    I’m a season ticket holder, were you to be offered the chance of getting in at £10, you would be getting in for about half of what I pay, whether I chose to go or not.
    Quite rightly, should that happen, there would be uproar from the season ticket holders and many would not renew next year, thus what could have been a positive for the club becomes a negative.

    As a fan of Doncaster you should follow your team based on what you are willing to pay for an away ticket, not what it costs the home fans.
    You’re in for a rude awakening should you ever get in The Premier, the differences between home and away tickets can be huge.

    Posted by Hackneyfox | December 10, 2010, 4:38 pm
  7. And clubs are a business, away fans generally cost more to police than home fans, why shouldn’t clubs charge more?

    If I want to go an away game and can afford it then I go, I have no interest in what the home fans are being charged.

    Posted by Hackneyfox | December 10, 2010, 4:41 pm
  8. £20 for a season ticket at Leicester? What a bargain!

    Jokinga side, I cannot see how you can justify that fans should be charged more than twice as much as others to watch exactly the same thing from a similar vantage point. If I’m sat in a corner of the stadium at a football ground I would expect to be paying the same as the people sat in the opposite corner.

    I want to go to this game, and I am going. But that doesn’t mean I’m happy that the people sat the other side of some mesh netting have paid £16 less.

    We’ll all be in for a rude awakening should Rovers ever get to the Premier League as this is one of the recognised signs of a coming the apocalypse. That aside I’d be in for a tough decision at that point because I’d no longer be able to afford to watch the club I support. I try not to think of the implications of being in the Premier League… its a sepreate issue which doesn’t sit well with me.

    Posted by glenglenglen | December 10, 2010, 5:13 pm
  9. @Hackneyfox

    In response to your comment about uproar from season ticket holders, surely this applies to home fans also who are getting in for half the price that you paid. So why are away fans any different?

    If it was £10 for men and £20 for women (or different prices based on skin colour) there would be uproar and lawsuits flying around. Why should it be any different when charging different prices based on the team you support? It’s still discrimination, but instead of sex or skin colour, it’s based on where you live (or who you support). Both are watching the same game in the same location.

    I believe that DRFC have thankfully seen the light, and offered the same discounts to the away fans this season. As a season ticket holder, I wasn’t angry, or even slightly bothered, that Swansea fans only paid £10 this season (I’m not 100% sure of this, but I read that Swansea fans paid the same as home fans). The fact there was almost a full stadium with lots of atmosphere from both sets of fans made the day much more enjoyable.

    * Prices are for arguments sake only. I don’t know what the actual prices are for tomorrow, as somebody else bought my ticket.

    Posted by Wayne | December 10, 2010, 5:43 pm
  10. I’m an MK Dons fan (although not one of the pitiful number we took to Hudd’s) and this has been rumbling on for some time now at our club.

    Over the last few years (to the best of my knowledge) we’ve always extended the offer to away fans whenever we’ve done cheap tickets. Brighton & Orient being the most recent beneficiaries of £6 tickets (£1 for kids). However, we’ve always felt that these offers were never reciprocated when we happened to play away at a club doing something similar. Huddersfield was a chance for our SA to get their teeth into some very vague wording concerning the allowance of “home only” offers in which the FL’s Charter even appears to contradict itself, and as a wider point, at odds with Fair Trade Legislation.

    I think all we want to see is clarity on the issue.

    Posted by Camdenite | December 11, 2010, 9:08 am

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