The Chairman discusses the Club’s new ticket prices.Some supporters have written to the club "Tell Us" and “Members” email accounts, to express their dissatisfaction about our recently announced ticket price increases. I regularly monitor these addresses and take full responsibility for the poor way that we communicated this news. But I think it is important that we break down some of the myths associated with ticket pricing, and tell you clearly where the money goes……
PLAYERS & COACHES -
We all love them but can we afford to pay for them? Player cost inflation is through the roof, with the expectations of management, coaching and playing staff adding double digit rises every season to our cost base– a trend which shows no signs of letting up. Agents now proliferate the game and clubs are obliged to pay their costs as well. Although we have resisted these charges in the past, our push for promotion meant that we had to invest over £33k in these fees alone last year; that is the equivalent of two entire match gate receipts. Player relocation is another significant expense, which amounted to over £50,000 last season. These two costs were nearly 25% of our average home gate receipts for the entire campaign!
The tax burden continues to rise, and supporters often forget that for the average £20 ticket price, the clubs only actually receive £16.66 after VAT. By the time you deduct rates, PAYE, NI and tax on energy costs, half of your revenue is spent before you even open the gates. Staff working in London also need to be paid a higher salary than the rest of the country- in the last few years salary costs at the club have doubled, based on the new London minimum wage and added social security costs.
STADIUM DEVELOPMENT –
This close season we are investing another £3 million developing the new North Stand facilities. This will accommodate the visiting fans in one area of the ground behind the goal, and will include their own 600 sqm dedicated bar. The new development will also benefit our home fans, who will be able to enjoy the use of the whole West Stand; there will be access to double the bar and catering facilities that were previously made available. We are also nearing completion of the new £5m Imaging Centre, which will be the first of its kind in the UK. It will provide on site state of the art MRI, CT, Ultrasound and Digital X Ray facilities. The completion of these two projects will bring total site investment up to some £35 million, and provide a sustainable cost base for the business to be enjoyed by future generations.
The sale of our former home to the Education Funding Agency netted around £14 million, which after costs and taxes will leave us with a little over £10 million. We could of course blow the whole lot on one or two glorious seasons, but is that what supporters really want? It's certainly not my style, so we have invested in The Hive as above and reduced bank debt (I will be writing to you more on banks at a future date). Our business model is unique and is proven to work - we have invested in businesses which fund the football teams and academy, and this is what allows us to compete with some very well supported teams.
We are now in a very strong position to maximise our potential, but need to mount a strong challenge on the field to move to the next level. This is our intention, but to get there and stay there the manager needs funds on a regular basis - not a one off windfall gain. The Hive gives us this opportunity due to the seven day operation it provides, and we must build on this if we are to bridge the gap with the other larger clubs we face in League 2.
OTHER CLUBS PRICES –
People look at some Premier League clubs and compare our prices with them, but this really makes no sense when everyone knows they receive over £100 million a year in broadcast subsides. It is also wrong to compare us with our colleagues in the same division. How can you compare us, when we have to compete with clubs who have 18,000 crowds (ten times our home support), or alternatively have an extremely low cost base further North? The simple truth is that London has become an island within England when it comes to the cost of living and working, so whether it's theatre, restaurants or shopping, everything costs more in London.
OUR PRICES -
The Hive membership has been frozen; only costing from £1 per month and £1 a ticket for under 14s. We have yet to announce our family stand membership pricing as we want to get this right. Tickets have gone up by £2 which is about right too.
Memberships have had the largest increase. This is because we reduced prices when we were relegated to the National League, and as a gesture of goodwill did not increase them last season - even though we were promoted. However the fact we kept prices frozen for three years is a good thing, and should not now be used to unfairly attack the Club.
THE DILEMMA -
We have always prided ourselves on our strong relationship with our support base, but we do have a dilemma and some are quick to find a stick to beat us with.
All staff mix with the fan base. Everyone here is approachable and our memberships are not just season tickets, but regular interaction with events for staff, players and members alike. At this Club we are one and should never allow ourselves to be divided.
The final decision on prices is mine and mine alone, and I have to consider all aspects of the business so the question is -
Do we meet the demands of the players, and invest in our squad to try and keep pace? Or do we keep our prices low and accept that most of our players will move to other clubs?
Last year we tried various pricing promotions, some as low as £2 per game. Generally we saw little change in attendance, and all this proved was that the only thing that really affects our support is winning football matches. We need to win games and grow our support base, so winning is the thing that matters most. That means maximising our revenue.
I have set up another one of our famous supporter surveys for members only (so as not to have external influence) and you have until Tuesday evening to respond. If I have judged the mood wrongly then I will reverse the increase in membership prices.
It’s a difficult decision and we don’t want to alienate our supporters, but we also want to be competitive. So, faced with the same dilemma, what would you do....?
Voting details are below.
We will be sending Barnet FC members an e-mail shortly, with a link to a Survey Monkey questionnaire. Members will have until Tuesday evening to answer the following question:
What would you like to see happen with membership prices for next season?
CHOICE 1 - Increase prices to improve squad as per the manager's requirements.
CHOICE 2 - Keep prices the same and maintain the team as best you can.
We look forward to receiving your responses.