Earlier this month I published Bill Hodge’s 1976 letter to the local Gazette, titled: ‘Rangers – Don’t let Greed Ruin your chances of being a Great Club’. This prompted the following response on 1st April from Club Secretary, Ron Phillips:
‘I hope you will allow Queen’s Park Rangers to reply to the letter recently published by you from Bill Hodge.
The timing of publication of this letter was a little unfortunate as our programme this week carried an editorial, which kills once and for all the particular misconception advanced by Mr Hodge.
However, for the benefit of your readers who will not have read the programme, may I give the following facts, which make it clear that the attendances at the club earlier this season had nothing to do with overcharging our supporters?
Rangers, admittedly possess a small number of £3 seats and these tend to give rise to the “over-charging” accusations as only a few clubs charge higher seat prices than this.
However, these seats account for only ten per cent of out total seated accommodation and they were installed purely to offset the fact that our stadium capacity is one of the smallest in the First Division and we must gain additional income from our better-off spectators in order to compete with bigger clubs.
In order to look after the less well-off supporter, we have taken care to reserve 25 per cent of our seated accommodation at a price of £1.25 (and even less for season ticket holders).
This is considerably lower than the cheapest seats offered for sale by some of those self-same bigger clubs. Which of us, therefore, is best encouraging the attendance of the fans with little money in their pockets?
If Mr Hodge is implying that the low attendances were due to high seat prices, this is quite incorrect. Our seated accommodation has been 90 per cent sold out nearly every home game this season and we have very often had a 100 per cent sell-out.
The missing spectators were, in fact, terrace supporters as we have seen our terraces (which provide space for 17,000 persons) occupied by under 6,000 fans many times in the last year.
And, of course, our terrace admission prices are roughly the same as every other club in the First Division as the minimum entrance fee is fixed by the Football League.
If Mr Hodge feels this terrace admission charge is too high, he should express his views to the Football League as a whole; it is unfair that Queen’s Park Rangers should be accused of greed simply by complying with an unbreakable regulation.
Mr Hodge’s comment that management, shareholders etc., should “remain only moderately greedy” is rather a low blow as it implies that these persons are taking cash out of Rangers.
In fact, the last time the club paid a dividend to shareholders was in 1953 and, since that time, Rangers have been kept going and have reached their present position in the Football League almost entirely due to the financial contributions of club directors and, in particular, the non-stop generosity of our chairman, Jim Gregory.
Finally, I would mention that the problem of low attendances is not now as severe as when this subject was originally raised.
We anticipate “sell-out” gates for our remaining home games this season and there is little doubt that 1975-76 will see Rangers registering the highest average gate in the history of the club.’
R. J. Phillips,
Queen’s Park Rangers FC,
The final three home league attendances of the season were; 24,342, 30,362 and 31,002 respectively. This upped the overall average home league gate to 23,830.
(Thanks to Colin Woodley for his assistance)