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SBD Global/October 10, 2013/International Football

EPL Newcastle United Leads The Way As Fans' Pressure Forces Ticket Price Cuts



Away tickets for EPL fans could soon become much cheaper.
The campaign to bring Premier League away tickets down to £20 ($32) "is on the brink of a major breakthrough," with Newcastle United preparing to announce a "reciprocal deal by which they will charge any club's away fans that price, if their own are given the same deal," according to Ian Herbert of the London INDEPENDENT. The "supporter-driven fight to force down exorbitant prices" faced by Premier League away fans led ManU to "announce that they have followed Liverpool and Arsenal's lead in knocking money off every away ticket bought by one of their own fans this season." ManU will reduce every away ticket price by £4 ($6), Arsenal will reduce theirs by £2.50 ($4), while Liverpool will bring down their own away ticket prices by between £2 ($3) and £4, "depending on the opposition." Newcastle's plan "is imaginative" -- but "dependent on others being willing to reciprocate." The clubs' moves follow the Premier League announcement that it has established a fund of £12M ($19M) over the next three seasons to ensure that each of the top division's 20 clubs set aside £200,000 ($319,000) per season to "make games more affordable for away fans." The fund "is a direct result" of the Football Supporters' Federation's "Twenty's Plenty" petition. The organization "lobbied the Premier League" and then met CEO Richard Scudamore four months ago "to demand action on prices." The "high costs" led to a 9.6% reduction in top-flight away attendances last year. The £12M "has come from the clubs' TV revenues and all were given until the end of last month to demonstrate how they were going to use it" (INDEPENDENT, 10/8).

ON THE ROAD: The BBC's Saj Chowdhury reported with this season's installments of £200,000, Arsenal, Liverpool, ManU, Swansea, Fulham, Crystal Palace and Sunderland "have all offered either discounts or deals on tickets." Meanwhile, free transport "has been made available by clubs" including Hull, Aston Villa and Stoke, with the latter "offering complimentary coach travel for all of their away matches this season." As a result, the Potters "took a club record number of fans to Liverpool on the opening weekend." Four clubs are "yet to say what they plan to do with the money." To see how each club is spending their money, click here (BBC, 10/9).

SOME STILL CYNICAL: In London, Herbert wrote it was "one of those relatively rare occasions" when ManU and Liverpool "carried a torch together." Their mutual commitment to "driving down the obscene costs" faced by fans travelling away to watch a team in the Premier League resulted in them being two of only three clubs who have used a £200,000 budget "to help all fans, by subsidising match tickets for every away game." Some will be "understandably cynical about these developments," at clubs that are the beneficiaries of a new £5.5B ($8.7B) TV deal. But this is "a step forward" -- and "will be a leap if a substantial club or two come forward to say that they will reciprocate" Newcastle United's commitment to £20 away tickets (INDEPENDENT, 10/9).
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