Hands in pockets and bums on seats - Sheffield Wednesday need to get this season’s ticket pricing right – Joe Crann’s column
By the time fans are – hopefully – back in the stands at Hillsborough it will have been almost 18 months since their last visit, and for many they’re going to take some convincing after what’s happened.
According to a survey of over 1000 people that we ran at The Star, 80.3% of Wednesdayites think the club’s ticketing structure requires ‘radical’ change, with 70.2% of them saying that their feelings towards the club have worsened since the start of the pandemic.
Worse still, 37.5% went as far as to say that they now feel ‘totally disconnected’ with the club, and that’s a worryingly high number.
Dejphon Chansiri certainly has a task on his hands in the coming months. That disconnect needs to be addressed, wounds need to be tended to, and bridges need to start being rebuilt…
Obviously that is easier said than done, but you can’t help but feel that if Wednesday are going to push on, and if this season is going to be a success under Darren Moore, then winning back the fans and getting them back into the ground is going to play a big part in it.
Since the pandemic started, many fans have been hit hard economically, and when you add to that the feeling of discontent and the eventual relegation into League One, it may not come as a major surprise as to why so many fans feel the way they feel – and why so many requested refunds on their 2019/20 season tickets.
Season ticket refunds are still a hot topic at present given the process has ‘has taken significantly longer than anticipated’, and there’s still 2020/21 to deal with and whatever might happen for 2021/22 based on whatever government guidelines are in place.
It’s vital that Wednesday get it right. And that process needs to start as soon as possible.
Whether it’s reduced prices (season tickets and matchday prices), extra incentives, a regular return of the ‘kid a quid’ scheme, or other such suggestions, the fact is that a lot of football fans have found other things to do with their weekends, and/or they simply can’t afford to watch Wednesday as much as they could before.
Wednesdayites of a certain age know how the promotion season of 2011/12 felt. It’s now on the club to try and forge that kind of mood again – because as it stands it does seem a long shot to be averaging the 17,000 and 21,000 home attendances of the Owls’ last two season in the third tier.
It might be oversimplifying things, but surely it’s better to have more fans paying less money each than less fans paying more money. Hands in pockets and bums on seats, that’s what Wednesday need to try and achieve.
And if they get the pricing of tickets right, with the fan backing that Moore has managed to harbour and the growing sense of a squad rebuild, then they’ve got a chance.
The season starts in two months, and the clock is ticking.