Why there is no excuse for the low crowd against Swansea City - Dom Howson's Sheffield Wednesday column

It was a sad sight indeed to see so many empty seats in the last Hillsborough fixture.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 23 February, 2018, 04:50
Owls owner Dejphon Chansiri

Saturday’s FA Cup fifth round encounter with Swansea City failed to capture the imagination of the Sheffield public. Thousands of Wednesday’s season ticket holders stayed away from S6. Only 19,427 spectators turned up.

So why was the crowd so low then? Although the Swans are a Premier League outfit, it was hardly a glamour tie. If the Owls had been paired with a top-flight giant such as Manchester United or Manchester City, I bet the ground would have been packed to the rafters. Should the Owls squeeze past the Swansea in the replay next week, Jos Luhukay’s men could host Tottenham Hotspurs in the quarter-finals of the famous old competition.

The fact that the match was broadcast on television and kicked off at 12:30pm also probably had a knock-on effect on the attendance.

And, to state the bleeding obvious, the team are really struggling. Luhukay’s squad has been stretched to the limit by a mounting injury list but Wednesday’s expensively assembled team should still be performing far better than they currently are. Confidence is low and their season has unravelled. There remains a possibility that the Owls could still get sucked into a battle for survival.

Recognising a home tie with Swansea might be a hard sell, Wednesday’s officials slashed the admission prices. For adult season ticket holders and members, tickets cost £15. The most expensive adult ticket on general sale and matchday prices was £20. Despite that, the ground was a little over half full. I know the cup has lost some its appeal and magic but it was still a disappointing turn-out. The cup ought to be a welcome distraction from the Owls’ league woes.

In recent years, a number of Wednesday fans have criticised the club’s high ticket prices. Hillsborough is among the most expensive grounds to visit in the Championship and plenty of supporters have urged chairman Dejphon Chansiri to reduce the prices, claiming that has put them off attending matches. Their matchday ticket pricing policy has, undoubtedly, alienated some of the fan-base.

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It is not cheap following Wednesday home or away.

Yet there can be no complaints over the Swansea pricing structure. It was fair and affordable but fans snubbed the chance to watch the match live.

There have been other instances where the Owls have also lowered ticket prices for league and cup matches this term. However, fans have not flocked to the ground and taken advantage of the cheaper deals.

All revenue streams are vital right now in the battle to stay with Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.

But the club’s hierarchy are damned if they do charge high prices and damned if they don’t.