Sheffield United are on a very slippery slope with their ticket prices and they need to stop now
Way back when Sheffield Wednesday were being hammered up and down the country by football supporters complaining about the prices of a matchday ticket, across the city, United were being held up as a virtuous beacon of good.
There appeared to be a recognition that the Blades hierarchy understood the value of their fans beyond what was in their pockets. They got that this is a working class city, where for many money is tight and they also made it fairly reasonable for away fans to attend, too, acknowledging that full stands and a better atmosphere provides the reward that a few extra quid perhaps doesn’t.
While season ticket prices remain objectively fair, it seems as though Sheffield United are careering down a very slippery slope with regard to their pricing structure for those who want to pay on the day.
There are many potential reasons why supporters haven’t bought a season ticket for this campaign and one of the biggest remains writ large all around us every day as the country continues to attempt its recovery from a global pandemic.
Many fans will have been on furlough last year – in fact United employees were placed on the scheme so the club should know all too well – or worse still, a lot of them could have lost their jobs completely.
That would have meant having to make sacrifices and a football season ticket could well have been one of those, retaining the hope that they could still get to the odd match by buying a single ticket.
Chances are they won’t be able to afford that either if United’s current pricing is anything to go by.
This has all blown because of the announcement that the cost of a ticket for Derby County fans making the short trip to South Yorkshire will be £37 for Rams. THIRTY SEVEN POUNDS for a match in the second tier of English football.
United fans for the most part are even worse off.
To sit on the Kop – always the cheapest – it will now set you back £36 for what is being described as a Category A+ match. A seat high in the Bramall Lane end is £38. And incredibly, to sit in the South or Family Stands an adult will have to fork out FORTY ONE POUNDS!
Collectively, a family of four would be out of pocket to the tune of £126 if they want to go and watch their team against Derby County.
Ironically, it was cheaper to watch United when they were taking on some of the best players in the world in the Premier League.
Looking at things very simply, there are potentially two reasons behind this pricing structure. One, simple greed and if I’m completely honest that’s not a theory I would subscribe to. Two, Sheffield United’s finances are in a terrible state and it’s the supporters who are being asked to help bail them out.
Season ticket sales have been good this year and as previously stated the reasonable pricing will have helped that, not to mention the undying loyalty of the fanbase.
However, there has to be a realisation that there are many who begin their love of the club by going to the odd game here and there. It is they who in many cases end up becoming season ticket holders.
I know of many young families who saw the team sporadically in League One, caught the Bramall Lane bug and went on to buy season tickets in the Championship and the Premier League. They’ve still got them.
What of the next batch of fans? Priced out because they can’t commit to a season ticket and now can’t justify the expense of a single matchday.
And for those fans who travel up and down the country to away grounds, they too in the end could suffer. We’ve seen before that putting a hefty price on an away ticket often leads to a tit-for-tat approach and other clubs end up doing the same.
So much good has been done by those in charge of Sheffield United over the past few years and they deserve a lot of credit for that.
Now, though, they are in danger of wiping it all away with a handful of £20 notes.