Sheffield Wednesday fans react to 2018/19 matchday ticket prices

Sheffield Wednesday supporters.
Sheffield Wednesday supporters.
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After Sheffield Wednesday announced their ticket prices for the new season, Sam Cooper asks fans for their views and investigates whether Owls supporters are paying the price of the Financial Fair Play restrictions.

Sheffield Wednesday fans have given their reaction to the club’s ticket and membership prices after one supporters’ group labelled them ‘eye watering’.

Sheffield Wednesday supporter Molly Shepherd-Boden pictured with former Owls' manager Carlos Carvalhal.

Sheffield Wednesday supporter Molly Shepherd-Boden pictured with former Owls' manager Carlos Carvalhal.

Wednesday announced their pricing structure for matchday ticket prices last week, which have been frozen for the fourth consecutive season, along with details of Owls Membership prices for the 2018/19 season.

The club has stuck with a seven-tier structure, which has been in place since 2015, with tickets priced as high as £49 for some games.

The cheapest ticket under the structure would be £20 for an adult but the team's first home game against Hull City on August 11 has been classed as a Category B game - the second highest - and will cost fans paying on the day at least £39.

Wednesday announced the prices on Twitter and the Football Supporters' Federation said: "More eye-watering away fan and match-day prices from one of the Championship's usual suspects."

Championship matchday ticket prices 2018/19.

Championship matchday ticket prices 2018/19.

The club also announced their membership prices this week. The membership, which entitles fans to discount and priority booking of tickets, is priced at £90 for adults - up from £50 last season.

It entitles fans to £5 discount per league game, with £10 off for at least two league games and, new for this season, the chance to buy tickets for £10 for the game against Preston North End on December 22.

But it would mean fans would have to go to 18 of the Owls' 23 league games to recoup the cost of the membership.

Lifelong Owl Molly Shepherd-Boden said she didn't have a season ticket as she couldn't commit to going every weekend and feared that attendances could soon drop if results don't go as planned.

Championship matchday ticket prices 2018/19.

Championship matchday ticket prices 2018/19.

She said: "I think it could turn out to be a situation where people will pay the prices if it's good football and the team are winning but that could all change.

"We could be left like Arsenal were last season where people get fed up of paying the higher prices because it's easier to justify when the team is doing well."

Molly, 20, of Treeton, added: "I think what the club has got to remember as well is that Sheffield is quite a working-class city so to ask a fan to pay those prices and take the wife and two kids, it's a bit too much.

"That said it's a business at the end of the day and I think we would all pay a little more if the club was doing well but it's hard to take when you are losing week in, week out so it could end up lowering the crowds."

Championship matchday ticket prices 2018/19.

Championship matchday ticket prices 2018/19.

After three years of unprecedented financial backing by chairman Dejphon Chansiri, the Thai businessman has been forced to cut costs this summer in order to ensure his team comply with Financial Fair Play (FFP) constraints.

Striker Jordan Rhodes - an £8 million signing in 2017 - has joined Championship rivals Norwich City on a season-long loan deal and defender Jack Hunt left for Bristol City.

And, perhaps the most obvious sign of Wednesday's challenge to balance the books so the club doesn't breach the regulations has been that manager Jos Luhukay is yet to make a single signing this summer.

The Profitability and Sustainability rules, which were enforced at the start of the 2016/17 season, state clubs cannot exceed losses of £39m, or £13m a season, over a three-year period, although this includes a financial projection for the current financial year if the owner injects equity.

Wednesday’s latest accounts revealed the club’s losses more than doubled to £20.765m in the 2016/17 season on the back of a huge rise in the wage bill.

James Marriott, of the Wednesday Week podcast, said: "I am in a fairly strange position in that I have looked at football finances more than any other fan in the last six months and I can see why something had to give.

"The club is close to the Financial Fair Play boundary so money had to come in from somewhere but the thing I don't like about it is that I've seen people saying they won't be renewing their membership and that they can't afford to go."

James said Wednesday 'was not unique case' in terms of ticket prices and added he could see both sides to the argument.

He added: "We've had six months of peace among the fan base but this has really got people talking. I think when people saw the membership price they thought it was a big jump but something has to give because the wages are phenomenal at this level.

"I don't know what the answer is - the only way forward seems to be that clubs will just keep going and spending money until they go bust."

Speaking during an Ask the Chairman event in November, Mr Chansiri said success 'didn't come cheap' and encouraged fans to buy season-tickets for the best value.

He said: "The ticketing policy is something the club has examined at great length over the two-and-a-half years I have been at Sheffield Wednesday," he replied when asked about criticism over ticket pricing.

"It was and remains important to find the right balance between robust pricing structures whilst delivering a major uplift of quality on the pitch.

"The players are better, our ambitions are higher and this led to two successive seasons in the play-offs. This does not come cheap but for everyone who has supported the team so incredibly well since my arrival, I say thank you.

"I understand that not everyone can afford to come to Hillsborough and I would never ask one single fan to buy a ticket they cannot afford."

He added: "We have made clear right from the beginning the value of purchasing a season ticket, the result of which has seen an uplift of 40 per cent, even though we lose money by encouraging supporters to buy a season ticket compared to matchday sales"