Away Fans Matter
MOMS attended the Football Supporters Federation (FSF) meeting in London this month, when the main discussion on the agenda was the trials and tribulations of away fans. Both the FSF and Premier League have found unlikely common ground on the issue of making away games more affordable. Of course, they’re both coming at the issue from different angles. The FSF want to limit the dent on supporter’s pockets, while the Premier League wants to make sure there is atmosphere in grounds, which away fans trigger, to ensure a more attractive product in terms of selling TV rights.
The Premier League at the start of this season began its Away Fans Fund initiative, where each club will spend £200,000 per season for three years (£12m in total) on measures to help subsidise the cost of being an away supporter. Clubs were given a free remit on how to spend their fund (which in theory comes out of their increased TV revenues), with some clubs even using the fund to do up their own away ends.
Before attending the FSF meeting, MOMS spoke to Aston Villa to get a recap on how the club had distributed the money.
The breakdown of Aston Villa’s £200,000 away fund
- Free away coaches to 10 matches (covers club’s lost revenue line too)
- Away scheme members received £15 ‘Villa Cash’
- Lions clubs were granted £300 subsidies for away coach travel
- Reciprocal pricing deal with Swansea City – £25/£10 (concessions) match tickets
- Spurs away match tickets reduced by £5
Villa’s total spend actually came in a shade over £200,000. The club have used a strategy of mixed incentives (rather than concentrating on one particular issue) with the focus on driving up away attendances, which we’re told will see an increase on last season.
With that in mind, don’t expect to see the fund used in future seasons on ticket prices for in-demand fixtures likes at Anfield, Old Trafford, the Emirates and the Eithad, as the club obviously tend to sell out their allocation to those away days without too much trouble. Thus there also seems to be little scope for reciprocal deals with the top Premier League clubs on this basis. Commercially, it’s a logical step to offer up incentives to games that aren’t as popular.
As it became apparent at the FSF meeting in London, the pricing up of tickets for away fans of top teams, with fans suffering financially as a direct result of their club’s success, has led to the idea of the FSF advocating that all away sections at Premier League grounds should have ‘Category C’ status. A train of thinking that certainly brings it into the FSF’s overriding ethos of their ’20 is Plenty’ campaign, in which they’d ideally like all Premier League away tickets to be £20 (adult prices).
Other issues that came up in terms of away fans at the London meeting was the ongoing attempts to get some discounts for fans that travel on trains. By all the accounts offered up at the meeting though, it seems that the train companies would prefer football fans not to use their trains!
During this season, the FSF has been asking away supporters to fill in their away fan feedback project and at the end of the season they will publishing a league table of what football fans consider the best grounds in the Premier League. It should make interesting viewing. I wonder where Villa will be?
In the meantime, a word of advice… join the FSF now, it’s free and MOMS gets on with them very well indeed. If you go to matches regularly it’s a must to be honest, it’s like having your own lawyer for match days! When you sign-up – under the ‘Are you a member of a supporters’ organisation?’ you’ll find ‘My Old Man Said’, so please do click that. You can join the FSF here.