Sheffield Wednesday Supporters Trust slam club over 'early bird' season tickets timing

Sheffield Wednesday have come under fire from supporters over the announcing of their early bird season ticket pricing.
Sheffield Wednesday fans on their way in to watch the Owls at Hillsborough. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)Sheffield Wednesday fans on their way in to watch the Owls at Hillsborough. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)
Sheffield Wednesday fans on their way in to watch the Owls at Hillsborough. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

The club normally introduce the offer in the early part of the year leading up to the new season, however this time they have taken the unusual step of bringing that forward to December.

With just a few days notice, supporters have between December 6-13 to avail of the lowest possible price, with the cost going up between December 14 and 20 and again between December 21 and 30.

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Given the time of year Wednesday were bombarded with comments from frustrated fans yesterday and Sheffield Wednesday Supporters Trust released a statement on Friday, while welcoming the price freeze, illustrating their concerns around timing, the reasoning for the change and the fact that it has been reported that conerns from members of the Fans Engagement Panel were ignored.

Sheffield Wednesday Supporters Trust statement in full

“We fully understand the frustrated and angry response from across the fanbase following the announcement of Early-Bird Season Ticket sales for the 22/23 season. We clearly welcome that prices have been frozen but note that the freeze is a very limited one. Outweighing that positive are:

The timing of the offer in December which is the most expensive month of the year in the run up to Christmas and New Year.

No sense of understanding from the club of the current cost of living crisis and the impact that it will be having on some fans

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The total lack of any reasonable notice that would have allowed fans to save up at least some money towards season tickets.

The lack of any interest free financing option being made available to fans by the club.

The price increases kicking in as the sales window progresses, effectively punishing those fans who can’t afford to spend the cash at the earliest point in the window.

That the refunds process for the 19/20 season is still not completed.

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We recognise that some fans may not be affected by the above and can afford to buy their season ticket in December but others may not be in that position.

The club needs to clarify if the need to launch this in December, rather than February 2022, is driven by the need for cashflow into the club. If it is, it could be possible to construct a different approach that convinces those fans that can afford it of the need to voluntarily buy their season ticket early whilst not financially penalising those fans who cannot. Or alternatively allow fans to make a partial contribution now to secure the lower price with the rest due later this season.

If there isn’t a cashflow problem then why do it right now? If there is a cashflow problem the club needs to engage the fans in a positive agenda to help tackle that problem, not do things that alienate fans.

We were not consulted by the club on the early-bird sales plan and would not have supported it in its current form if we had. We now know from a member of the Engagement Panel on social media that the club consulted the Panel. It was reported that the Panel categorically told Mr Chansiri not to release the season tickets in December but were not listened to.

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These events underline the need for far more effective involvement for fans in decision making processes on matters which directly affect fans. This is something recognised by the report of the fan led review of football governance which called for the creation of a powerful Supporters’ Board at each club and establishment of a ‘Golden Share’ in the club held by fans. We wrote to the club a week ago requesting that the club establish these two things in advance of any legislation because it’s the right thing to do. So far, we have received no response from the club to that request.

If the club wants to discuss a different approach on these matters, then we would be happy to engage with the club to do that."