Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tickety Boo

Back in November 2006, I wrote a rather verbose piece about how Charlton ought to copy the likes of Starbucks, and introduce a little more guile into its ticket pricing policy.

The general thesis was that particularly on a match-by-match basis (and to a lesser degree for seasons tickets too), the club's generally flat pricing structure whilst admirably simple, was infact rather illogical.

In short, the club was missing out on the chance for its less price sensitive supporters to signal their willingness to pay more, whilst potentially alienating its more price sensitive fans from attending at all. Appropriately structured, it was also missing out on the chance to increase revenues too, for any given attendance.

I wrote that piece as someone who considers themselves extremely price sensitive when it comes to certain material goods (clothes, electronics, watches etc..), but unashamedly price insensitive when it comes to certain services (air travel, hotels, event tickets etc..).

Not surprisingly therefore given my devotion to Charlton, I'd gladly pay considerably more than say £15 per game for the best seats in the ground. It was illogical of the club not to free me of some more of my cash, whilst at the same time using some of the excess to part-subsidise those that feel differently.

Lo and behold, fast forward 18 months and I read the news that Charlton are adapting their ticketing policy for 2008/9 broadly on the lines I suggested:

"We have made some changes to the price structure because we wanted to reintroduce different match prices around the ground. The new season-ticket structure reflects that by introducing differentials in the more popular seating areas, so some prices have gone up and others have gone down."

If they did indeed find inspiration from my blog, I'm delighted to confirm I'll be providing the consultancy advice on a strictly pro bono basis (they're virtually a charity after all).

More seriously, the changes make a lot of sense and I welcome them. The continuation of the free Premiership season ticket offer was a 'no-brainer', although the value of the free option now embedded in a 2008/9 season ticket has been rather tarnished by this season's performances. Unfortunately I suspect it won't be a particularly powerful selling point this time around.

The only aspect that seems rather unnecessary is the implication that there are fixtures in the Championship that are more 'attractive' than others:

"The board has agreed that there will be a wider range of adult match prices next season, with a top price of £30 in the most expensive season-ticket blocks of the east and west stands for the most attractive fixtures and a standard price of £25 in those areas."

Other than possibly the fixture against Crystal Palace (who we may not play anyhow), none of the fixtures in this division whet the appetite. Perhaps it's time for the club to introduce a three-tier pricing structure for home games in 2008/9: "moderately attractive", "somewhat unattractive", and "how the hell did they get promoted?".

I'd even argue the number of fans at the Valley who even feel anything different about the Palace game, is broadly proportional to the number who saw the Addicks play home games regularly at Selhurst Park ie. not very many.

Although some of the claimed attendances at the Valley this season are about as credible as the government's official inflation figures, matches have been played on average to an 85% full stadium. Given the often sparsely filled Jimmy Seed Stand, this should be a source of great optimism. Meanwhile our average attendance of 23,024 is almost 50% higher than Palace's, and higher or on a par with Wigan, Portsmouth, Bolton, Reading, Fulham and Blackburn's.

I don't subscribe to the oft-held view that the team would be better off playing to a smaller but more passionate home crowd. A half-full stadium is truly a depressing sight to behold; just ask fans of Sheffield Wednesday (52% full on average), Burnley (55%) or Barnsley (49%). Let's instead pay tribute to the hard work of those who've worked tirelessly behind the scenes ever since even 'Target 10,000' seemed merely a pipe dream.


At 11:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love your suggested new ticket pricing clases NY - made me giggle.

Disagree with on how much the Palace game matters though. The noise and atmosphere this season was electric - best I've seen for some while.

Son of a (WHU) mate of mine went and he didn't stop talking about it for a week, so its not just my bias.

Personally I'm not price sensitive at all - I'll take my seven year old son to any game I can, regardless of the price and who we are playing. I suspect that most "fans" are the same. So you'll pick up extra sovs for the big games from punters like me.

The "sort of" fans and neutrals you can attract to the games with lower profile teams, but I suspect that they won't go the more expensive games.

I'm sure someone's done their homework on all of this - haven't they?

Pembury Addick


Post a Comment

<< Home