This week Yann Tear writes about the ‘furious reactions to massive rise in QPR season ticket prices’ in the local Gazette – Steve Russell
Season ticket holders who are faced with forking out 50% more to watch QPR from next August have accused the club of taking their loyalty for granted. One supporters’ group website has branded the move “an absolute disgrace,” saying that ordinary fans were now going to be priced out of renewing tickets. At a time when even many Premier League clubs like Chelsea have decided to freeze tickets or peg prices to inflation, Rangers fans are being asked to pay far more. A seat in the upper Loft End last season cost £398. Next season it will cost £599 and some supporters are threatening to end long associations with the club rather than pay up to keep watching their team.
Rangers’ price rise is the biggest in London and comes despite calls from the Government and supporters’ groups to address the soaring cost of watching football. One 40-year-old fan, who has been a season ticket holder for 13 years, told the Gazette: “I haven’t renewed my ticket yet and I honestly don’t know that I will. It’s ironic that at a time when we have the richest owners we have ever had, we are now being asked to pay this huge increase – and there was not even an ‘early bird’ option this year to keep the cost down. I think we are now not far off the average cost of a Premier League season ticket and I don’t think fans of any other club in the Championship are being asked to meet such an increase on demand.”
Paul Finney of indyrs.co.uk, one of the club’s independently run websites told the Gazette: “When the new owners talked in terms of getting to the Premier League, they didn’t mention that the fans would be the ones paying for it. Are we there to fulfil their dreams or are they there to realise ours ? Frankly, it’s an absolute disgrace because they are pricing ordinary fans out of it. Our loyalty is being taken for granted and we are being treated with contempt.” Finney continued: “They have classified the ground into gold, silver and platinum areas but they have to sort out the standard of the ground if they want to justify that – not just the directors’ box so Naomi Campbell and the other celebrities can watch in comfort.”
Rangers say that they are sensitive to the views of their fans but claim the ticket prices are in line with the club’s ambitions and the top clubs in the division. A club spokesman said: “It is the club’s aim to achieve promotion to the Premier League and as such we have to generate further income to assist us in our pursuit of that goal. Whilst these decisions are never easy or straightforward, the club does need the continued support of the fans to achieve that. It is certainly not our intention to drive away loyal fans who have supported the club through some very difficult times. However, whilst the new owners have invested heavily in the squad, as well as improving particular areas of the stadium, the club itself must endeavour to run more cost effectively. As a result, it is necessary for prices to increase. We do feel, however, that the new pricing structure has been designed to accommodate the needs of each and every QPR fan.”
It is not clear yet whether season ticket sales have been affected by the price rise. Last year, 8,100 tickets were sold but the club have not disclosed how many have been sold so far. Prices range from £450 to £699 and considering a typical price at Stamford Bridge is £790, Rangers appear close to embracing Premier League status before they are even there.