They think Norwich set FA Cup prices too low
18 January ~ The recent brouhaha concerning the £62 ticket Arsenal offered to Manchester City fans visiting the Emirates last weekend seems to have finally exposed a deepening fissure in the relationship between clubs and fans. The fact that they went on sale two weeks before Christmas during a recession was noted but once the story of the 900 returned tickets broke, several City fans (ones who had forked out for the tickets) had already pulled the bed sheets from the airing cupboard and were applying the paint.
Criticised for pricing a League Cup tie against Tottenham at £30 this season (for a crowd of 16,465), Norwich City chief executive David McNally went to the fans to gain a consensus for the price of the quarter-final against Aston Villa. It was agreed that £25 was fair and the subsequent – admittedly a further round into the competition – match saw the attendance rise to 26,142. For modern football, this was something approaching democracy.
So, when Norwich priced the upcoming FA Cup fourth round tie against Luton at £10, with under-16s paying £1, you would have expected to hear the cheers all the way from the Wensum westward to the land of the cut-price flight. Only some Luton fans were not happy. The prices, they said, were "too cheap".
In the FA Cup revenue is split, with the home team receiving a 40 per cent share, ten per cent to the FA Pool while a non-League away team receives half of the gate receipts. With Luton fans miffed at the £10 fee (the minimum price as laid down by the FA), a scheme was devised by the club to aid those Hatters fans eager to pay more – £5 being the agreed top-up to aid Luton's youth development programme.
It's hard to gauge what the crowd would have been with a ticket price of around £25 but it is likely the income would have been greater with a guaranteed 4,000 sell-out for the visitors and a higher price for kids, even if there was a significantly lower percentage of home fans, some fearing a repeat of the Spurs match.
So, maybe in the future people will be suggesting that Premier League teams should be able to alter the algorithm of category pricing in the league – and against lower league teams in the cup – and split their prices by making them cheaper for Goliath and expensive for David. It would be a strategy that could really benefit Luton should they get Arsenal in the next round. Andrew Woods