Going for Gold
As part of my research into a piece I'm going to write imminently on season ticket pricing, I couldn't help noticing on the official website the rather odd match categories used by the club in determining the pricing of hospitality packages.
For those of you without the inclination to click on the link, here is the categorisation for 2006/07:
PLATINUM: Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal
GOLD: Liverpool, Tottenham, West Ham
SILVER: Everton, Fulham, Man City, Middlesbrough, Newcastle
BRONZE: Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Portsmouth, Reading, Sheffield United, Watford, Wigan
Clearly some degree of price differentiation is required, after all no-one would claim that a game versus Chelsea is equivalent to one versus Sheffield United. Indeed the latter is the type of game to which an accountant say might invite a long-standing client he is keen to offload, but is not ruthless enough to say so outright.
However my attention was, like yours will be too, drawn to the rather perfunctory nature of the categorisation, particularly between silver and bronze. I don't know about you, but I'd love to read the minutes from the pre-season meeting where they were agreed to. Luckily however, I've got a reasonable sense of how it might have gone:
MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL MATCHDAY CATEGORISATION COMMITTEE
22 JUNE 2006, THE VALLEY
Present: R.Murray (Chairman), P.Varney (Chief Executive), E.Bannon (Ticketing)
Apologies: K.Lisbie (not on the committee, but just wanted to apologise)
Varney: Mr Bannon, I understand you have completed your analysis of next season's Premiership and its implications for hospitality pricing.
Bannon: Yes indeed. I would like to begin by proposing an exclusive 'Platinum' triumvirate of Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal.
Varney: Hard to argue with you there. 'Platinum' has that sense of luxury doesn't it? A little bit like my new American Express card.
Murray: Excellent work Eamon - a veritable smorgasbord of the finest talent the Premiership has to offer. Liverpool must have been in with a shout too, but then again no-one in their right mind does business with Scousers do they?
Bannon: And secondly, I propose a 'Gold' category containing the aforementioned Liverpool, Tottenham and West Ham.
Varney: Sounds perfect - a holy trinity of the has-beens, the wannabees and never-will-bes.
Murray: Hmm, not sure about West Ham to be honest with you - don't want to rub it in to our fans that half of their squad used to play for us.
Bannon: ....and their manager. Anyhow, like it or not, a lot of our local businesses will have clients who are Hammers fans so it's silly not to make more money from them.
Murray: Fair point. By the way, has anyone seen Keith Peacock lately? I can't remember if I've sacked him or not.
Bannon: Moving on, I propose a 'Silver' category containing Everton, Fulham, Man City, Middlesbrough, and Newcastle
Varney: Eamon, I think you forgot Aston Villa, Bolton and Blackburn.
Bannon: You've got to move with the times Peter. Aston Villa are only rumoured to be worth £64million according to recent reports. Blackburn and Bolton meanwhile haven't qualified for Europe since, well....this season and last season respectively. They're yesterday's men Peter, the future is all about the mighty Middlesbrough and Fulham.
Murray: Didn't I read somewhere that Man City finished 20 points behind Blackburn last season?
Bannon: You've got to look to the future, not to the past Richard. Fans and their clients will be clamouring to watch the exciting talents of Dietmar Hamann, Ben Thatcher and Claudio Reyna. I mean, this Reyna guy sounds Italian....he must be good then.
Varney: Can't we just call the 'Platinum' category 'Gold', call the 'Gold' category 'Silver' and just lump the other 14 teams into an all-encompassing 'Bronze' category? I mean, it won't half make the salespeople's job a lot easier when they have to explain why the Middlesbrough game is pricier than the Villa game.
Bannon: Don't worry boss, we'll sell the packages. We'll bus them in if we have to.
Varney/Murray: Brilliant! Trebles all round.