Dear Manchester City Football Club,
As your accounts swell and your executives pat themselves on the back on a job well done in terms of building our commercial value, our pockets are becoming emptier. Once respected as a working class club renowned for its respectful and understanding relationship with its fans, Manchester City is now just another Premier League ‘corporation’ driven solely by its bottom line. The club is embarking on a pursuit of global dominance, and whilst we’re all very much supportive of that, it is being done at our expense. The fans – those who without which there isn’t a spectacle to sell around the world for billions of pounds.
The supporters have voiced their concerns in recent years, but we’re yet to receive a proper reply. £58 against Liverpool, £48 for a seat in Level 2 of the East Stand for West Brom, and now £60 for a Champions League quarter-final tie against Paris Saint-Germain.
The problem hasn’t just emerged this season. £48 for a 3pm home game against Burnley? It shows a staggering lack of awareness for the financial demographic of the core supporter base. The Paris Saint-Germain tie may be a high profile game – as you have mentioned in your statement on March 21st, but to charge a historically working class supporter base the kind of amounts you’d expect to see at Chelsea or Arsenal, well that just isn’t going to work.
What’s more preposterous is the fact that ticket sales make up such a small percentage of the club’s income. In April 2015, The Guardian released details of the club’s annual turnover, reporting that City rake in £47m a year from gate and match day sales. With the club’s annual turnover at £347m, those sales therefore make up a measly 14% and will constitute even less of it in 2016 when City bank close to £120m from the new TV deal next season. This begs the question: how much do you really need this extra cash? When did a club that prides itself on its relationship with the local community and its core supporter base become so out of touch with the daily realities that those supporters face when deciding which games to attend and which games to skip.
This is a club that was built on the support of the working class who would toil all week just to endure a 0-0 draw against Northampton Town. Our average attendance in the 1998/1999 season was a remarkable 28,261 and 64 years earlier in 1934, 84,569 people filled Maine Road for our FA Cup 6th round tie against Stoke City. That record, to this day, has never been broken. So, despite what those ‘Emptihad’ jibes may suggest, this is not a fanbase that neglects its duties. Empty seats have become synonymous with the Etihad Stadium this season and although the insults are incredibly superficial, attendances, especially in Europe, have noticeably suffered because of obscene ticket pricing.
As we have seen in our very recent past, reducing the prices of tickets encourages the masses to come and back the lads and to provide the vociferous atmosphere that makes the Champions League, and English football especially, what it is. In our last European quarter-final against Hamburg in 2009, ticket prices were slashed to just £5 and the fans repaid you with perhaps the best atmosphere the Etihad Stadium has ever seen. Fast forward seven years and a much bleaker ambience is expected to consume the arena on April 12th. Surely the players would appreciate a full stadium? Surely those people concerned with City’s image the world over would appreciate the Etihad being a cauldron on these big European nights?
By charging as much as £60 for a match – a fee that could pay for three games at the King Power to watch the best and most exciting team in the league, two at the Allianz Arena to watch five-time European champions Bayern Munich, and 60 bottles of Stella that could probably fool me into thinking I was watching a football game – you have injured one of the single most important players to that tie, us the supporters.
We therefore strongly urge you to reconsider your ticket pricing structure.
It’s time to listen to us. Turn your back on the fans, and we’ll turn our backs on you.