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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Newcastle, Swansea & WBA Agree Twenty’s Plenty

Newcastle have secured agreements on their innovative reciprocal ticketing proposal with Swansea and West Brom. The scheme will see away supporters of all three clubs paying more affordable prices for tickets at their 2013/14 fixtures. Newcastle fans attending both away games at Swansea and West Bromwich, will benefit from a saving of £44 on these alone, with ticket prices at Swansea previously set at £35 now costing £20 whilst the £39 ticket for last season’s game at West Brom will now cost just £15. Swansea and West Brom fans will be charged the same amounts for their visits to St James Park under the reciprocal agreement.

The Premier League recently launched the Away Fans Fund to reverse falling away attendances, with all 20 top flight clubs now ring-fencing £200,000 each per season over the next three seasons to assist away supporters.

John Irving, Finance Director at Newcastle United, said: “Ticket prices are too expensive generally across the Premier League and we believe the right way to encourage people to attend, and to therefore fill stadiums as the Away Fans Fund intends, is to look at charging reasonable prices.”

Newcastle’s innovative management team also lobbied the Premier League for the abolition of the prohibitive “sale only/sale or return” method of selling away tickets, which the Premier League duly ended in summer 2013 as part of efforts to halt a decline in away attendances.

Everton have proposed a raft of familiar measures surrounding enhancing the experience of all fans attending Goodison but specifically, for Everton’s own away support, £5 ticket reductions at the four away games over the festive period in addition to offering all junior Evertonians travelling to Stoke on New Year’s Day the opportunity to purchase their ticket for just £1. It is not known how many junior Evertonians usually travel to Stoke or if Stoke City has agreed to provide extra tickets for what one would expect to be a sell-out fixture for Everton’s legendary and sizeable travelling support.

John Irving continued, “While we respect the right of clubs to choose options which suit their individual circumstances, we believe there is room for clubs to work more closely to try to charge a fair amount rather than discounting very small amounts on match tickets in isolation. We are delighted to have reached an agreement with two of the first clubs we spoke to, West Bromwich Albion and Swansea City, and we applaud them for taking part. As prices indicated last season, fans of some clubs continue to pay far more than those of others and we hope this initiative will lead to a fairer system which can ultimately benefit all supporters.”

By contrast, in the face of some criticism to what so far appears to be Everton’s somewhat meagre proposals, CEO Robert Elstone said, “Just to be doubly clear on the Premier League’s instructions, they asked us to commit at least £200,000 of existing money, at our discretion, to ideas, activities and events that would fill visitor's sections. It was left to us and it was our money. “I’ve just been in a meeting talking about being a fan-led club. It’s undoubtedly our aspiration, and our away fan's initiative underlines our commitment to making sure our actions speak louder than words.”

Indeed, actions are ultimately what you are measured on but great news, we’ll be looking out for those actions and we’ll be looking forward to a democratically elected fan’s forum who will make proposals rather than listen to them.

In the meantime, for those still confused as to why the "away fans fund" was suggested by the Premier League, here's a short explanatory film from the New York Times, as action speaks louder than our words - obviously!

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