One of the injustices that away fans increasingly face with increasing ticket prices is the annoying policy of match “categorisation”.
Clubs categorise matches A, B, and C based on the level of opposition – or the number of tickets they think they can sell – and prices are upped accordingly.
While categorisation often applies to both home and away fans, many of the former are season ticket holders who pay a set price and aren’t affected on a regular basis (although if you’re skint and pay match-by-match, you’ll know about it).
Away fans are far more likely to have something to say on categorisation, especially if they support a “big” side who are Category A wherever they visit. Fans of that club will pay a lot more to follow their side over the course of the season.
The ills of categorisation
Categorisation was one of the big driving factors behind Manchester City fans’ protests when visiting the Emirates in January 2013. The game was Category A which meant individual match tickets cost up to £62.
Arsenal were vilified for that price and it was enough to kickstart the FSF’s Twenty’s Plenty for Away Tickets campaign. If Arsenal had only priced all away tickets as Category C prices (£25.50 in 2012/13) there would have been no such protest.
It’s not unknown to hear the counter-argument that Club X is loaded, so who cares if they pay through the nose for tickets? It’s a deeply flawed position for one very obvious reason, neatly summed up by FSF Chair Malcolm Clarke.
“This business of categorising matches is blatantly unfair. Just because Manchester City have a lot of money doesn’t mean their supporters have, and the same is true of the other teams who get charged the highest prices every time they play,” Malcolm told The Independent.
As Sunderland fan Paul Dobson, who emailed the FSF ahead of last season’s trip to Villa Park said, “Why should I pay more than, say, a Norwich fan to sit in the same seat at Villa Park, and why should a Man U fan pay more than me?”
Categorisation doesn’t just apply to top-flight clubs either, it’s not uncommon to hear from fans of Football League clubs unhappy with the prices they pay at away games. Huddersfield Town fans boycotted a game at Bramall Lane a few seasons ago after they were charged double what Bury fans paid.
The FSF have put Away Supporter issues at the top of the agenda in the past year and launched their ‘Twenty’s Plenty’ campaign in an attempt to lobby for the flat rate of £20 for away tickets. Even the Premier League acknowledged the problem by instructing clubs to each exercise a £200,00o away fund to subsidise their away fans with various initiatives.
(Check out Aston Villa’s away fan fund spend).
Fan march on Premier League office
As they did last June (MOMS was there), football supporters will march on Premier League and Football League offices in London demanding “Affordable football for all!” on Thursday 14th August 2014. The FSF will lead fans from dozens of clubs demanding that ticket prices are reduced.
Supporters will meet at a central London location at 1pm to hear from prominent voices in the fan movement before marching on the Premier League and Football League HQ at 30 Gloucester Place (W1U 8PL).
MOMS will run a post soon on last year’s march and provide more details for the one this August.
Post taken from FSF article Time for clubs to kick categorisation into Row Z