Pay what you want

Blue seats

The guilty verdict In Carson Yeung’s trial is not going to make an immediate difference to Birmingham City FC and there are others more qualified than me who can write about it. So I’m going to write about something else today: a way to increase attendance at football games by cutting the price of tickets.

About eight years ago, some Birmingham City season ticket holders were upset by the special offers on match tickets. The club had said they would save a certain amount by buying season tickets rather than buying match by match.  But all the special offers meant they weren’t saving that much.   

I recently heard part of a discussion on this topic, on a football phone-in on Radio WM. All the Blues fans I heard talking about it said they would not mind other fans getting cheap deals on tickets if it helped to fill some of the empty seats. I certainly wouldn’t mind.  At the Nottingham Forrest game, I enjoyed the atmospheres created by the larger crowd that cheap tickets had brought into the ground.

Some clubs have tried something more radical than cheap tickets: pay-what-you-want tickets.  Mansfield Town tried it in 2010.  Their attendance was around 3,000 and they wanted to boost the numbers.  It worked and they got more than 7,000 there to watch their game against Gateshead. Unfortunately they lost 0-2. The BBC report1 includes a video of interviews with unhappy fans after the match. One fan who paid 2 pence said she didn’t think it had been worth it!

Gloucester City tried a similar scheme for their game against Barrow AFC last month2. The attendance went up to 421; it was 294 the previous game.  But they lost, 1-3.

I realise it would be impractical to try this sort of scheme at a larger club.  That’s a pity because it would be interesting to know what fans would want to pay to watch Birmingham City.

  1. Attendance doubles as Mansfield fans pay what they want
  2. Barrow Game To Be ‘Pay What You Want’

3 thoughts on “Pay what you want

  1. Shane Ireland

    It happens at Brentford once or twice a season actually, and they near sell-out every time.

  2. Robert Hughes

    Some race courses have, for some time, allowed free admission to meetings, making there money from food, concessions etc. I don’t suggest that this would be appropriate for most football clubs but it has resulted in significantly raised attendances and (hopefully) a fresh trench of people who find that they enjoy going racing, rather than just watching it on TV. I certainly think that all children, up to the age of say 16, should invariably get in to football grounds free. they are the next generation of fans after all.

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