Friday 19 September ~
In a week where the global economy has been veering towards the very real possibility of a severe depression, no-one at Queens Park Rangers has been reading the news. After significantly hiking season ticket prices over the summer, the club has decided to further raise the entrance price for any fans turning up on the day to as high as £50. Yes, that's for 90 minutes of football at Loftus Road, in the good old English second division. And it's not much better for visiting fans – Derby County were shocked to receive tickets for their upcoming game at QPR with a mark-up to £40 from the price of £30 the two clubs had agreed on prior to the season's start. Derby have refused the tickets, and now the west London side is appealing to the Football League, presumably for the right to be as greedy as they bloody well want.
It's odd that the wealthy captains of industry who've recently taken over the club have such a rudimentary understanding of economics. They are apparently oblivious to the consequences of recession, which dictate that as soon as times are hard, the first costs that people cut back on are leisure-related. Amazingly, people are prone to choose flippant purchases such as food and clothing ahead of essential pastimes like watching Fitz Hall and Adam Bolder gad about after Blackpool, Plymouth and Swansea on a Saturday afternoon. Had the well-minted trio of Bernie Ecclestone, Lakshmi Mittal and Flavio Briatore looked more intelligently at the team's attendances so far, they might have made the connection – despite a decent start to the season, QPR are well short of selling out their modest 19,100 capacity ground.
No doubt these men didn't get where they are today by giving anything away for free. And so despite the newly sound financial footing of the club, the fans are still being asked to pay exorbitant sums for the pleasure of following their team. QPR are strutting about like they're already playing in the Premier League, and if there's any kind of warped thinking at all behind these outrageous increases, it must be to the effect that the higher something is priced, the more valuable it will appear. It's the way the diamond market works, after all. Though it would be a brave fan who handed his loved one a fancy box on her birthday that contained two main stand seats for the crucial November 8 home clash with Cardiff City.
The option for disgruntled fans is to vote with their feet and stay away, either because they've had enough of being treated with such contempt, or because they simply can't afford to go any more. But it's an obviously unsatisfactory solution for supporters who love their team, unless they can stomach a drop in standard and develop a sudden affinity for Hendon Town. Meanwhile, it's hard to understand what the club's motivation is other than to test both the loyalty and the pocket depth of their fans. Right now, they look suspiciously like the nouveau riche trying to cast off their old friends in favour of mixing with a perceived elite. Maybe QPR and the Premier League deserve each other. Though charging palatial prices to get inside football's equivalent of a glorified garden shed may not win them as many new friends as they hope. Ian Plenderleith