Is the price right for City fans?

Do Manchester City REALLY need ticket prices as high as £45-£60 for the Champions League Quarter Final against PSG?

Price worth paying - City covet European club football's ultimate prize - the Champions League trophy.

Price worth paying – City covet European club football’s ultimate prize – the Champions League trophy.

That’s virtually the equivalent top charge for the biggest Premier League games against the likes of European exiles Manure, Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs etc, in a competition long held in contempt by a large section of City fans.

Is this REALLY the way to attract supporters, bearing in mind the mega riches of the new Sky TV deal are just around the corner?

The fiscal number crunchers at the Etihad had better hope City are still in with a fighting chance after the 1st leg in Paris on April 6th…otherwise they could find themselves having scored a massive financial own goal.

Rich pickings - City and PSG go head to head in their quest to be Champions of Europe.

Rich pickings – City and PSG go head to head in their quest to be Champions of Europe.

At a time when City are always – unfairly – held up to ridicule by a malicious anti-MCFC media regarding the so-called ‘Emptihad’, it makes you wonder if the club might be lodging an unnecessary bullet in foot?

It could be argued that a minimum charge of £45 is the Champions League QF going rate – let’s wait and see.

What are Bayern Munich fans being asked to pay against Benfica, the Wolfsburg faithful to see Real Madrid or the Barcelona supporters for a domestic dust up with Atletico Madrid?

Last Eight Standing - City are among the elite of Europe challenging for the Champions League.

Last Eight Standing – City are among the elite of Europe challenging for the Champions League.

At first glance it appears steep and in stark contrast to the recently announced maximum £30 away tickets for Premier League fixtures for the next three years.

Coming just days after a Budget that continued to emphasise the austerity that abounds around the country, many of the most loyal City fans could be forgiven for questioning if the price is right?

The balancing statement could be that City have just created history by advancing to the last eight of European football’s elite competition for the first time, and there’s a price to pay.

Is it unrealistic to have a cake as fine as anything ever created for Yaya’s birthday celebrations, expect to eat it…and even ask for another slice?

Are City fans wanting their cake and eating it...or should they expect to pay extra for top Champions League football?

Are City fans wanting their cake and eating it…or should they expect to pay extra for top Champions League football?

It’ll be interesting to see what PSG are charging their own supporters and, more pertinently, the travelling City fans for the match near the Seine – presumably not insane prices for the well-heeled Parisians?

Any sane City fan would not want to relinquish the progress made under Sheikh Mansour’s ownership, the two Premier League titles and three domestic Cups won over the past five years.

Have City fans ever had it any better than nowadays under the ownership of Sheikh Mansour?

Have City fans ever had it any better than nowadays under the ownership of Sheikh Mansour?

Who in their right minds would want a return to the turgid fair served up under Stuart Pearce’s regime or, going back still further, the plunge down the divisions, albeit now viewed through rose-tinted glasses as diehard Blues lament the passing of many of the virtues of ‘Liddle old Citeh’.

It’s a dilemma for many fans, but one where harsh economics may override a desire to see if City can flourish at the top table amongst Europe’s elite.

Balls Up - City and PSG were the last two teams to be drawn in the Champions League Quarter Final but have City overpriced the Etihad fixture?

Balls Up – City and PSG were the last two teams to be drawn in the Champions League Quarter Final but have City overpriced the Etihad fixture?

For season ticket holders who subscribed to the Champions League ticket scheme at the Etihad it’s a fait accompli.

Their bank accounts or credit cards will be debited on Monday and whether or not their bums are actually on their rented Etihad seats on April 12th, the attendance figures will claim that ‘they were there’.

In that way, City are no better or worse, than any other club in adopting ‘best practice’ when reporting the numbers of tickets sold.

Euro sceptic - City fans are wary of the Champions League but don't want to exit UEFA's top competition anytime soon.

Euro sceptic – City fans are wary of the Champions League but don’t want to exit UEFA’s top competition anytime soon.

It’s just a shame that City may have missed a golden opportunity to engage with the Euro sceptics in their ranks, at a time when that lot from Trafford Borough have just beaten Boris Johnson and Brexit to getting the hell out of Europe three months early.

 By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu

28 Comments

  1. March 19, 2016  10:53 am by CiTyBlUe Reply

    I don't see what all the fuss is about. It shouldn't even be a subject, with success comes cost. Our srason cards and domestic tickets are well below the rest of the elite and they're achieving far less. I put this down to whining little babies too tight fisted to pay to experience success, wanting everything for virtually nothing. Get over it.

    • March 19, 2016  2:00 pm by David Walker Reply

      I'd go so far to say it is a valid topic of debate and you have clearly expressed your feelings on the matter. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. March 19, 2016  11:20 am by Michael Lloyd Reply

    It's a tough subject this Dave. Some say that the club are trying to get the best price possible to fill the stadium in the belief they will come. While others say they won't and that the club should be more realistic.

    This is the biggest game at home in a European Competition for us and the price is what the club things is fair after they probably compared what the likes of Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea have charged in the past.

    Could the club do this cheaper? Well, they could probably also do more expensive. Let's imagine we get past PSG and what will the price for the semi be? I would guess that if this game v PSG doesn't sell well then the same would be charged. But, the prestige etc would probably mean more will attend. Look at the league cup final as an example.

    As for our delightful friends of UEFA are the club thinking they have to charge for FFP reasons going forward to keep the money coming in? I can't see that with like you said all the new TV money, investment deals for sponsorship etc.

    It may come to a point when fans do indeed vote with their hard earned cash and stay away, the match v Kiev is not going to inspire those that attended or watched on TV to rush out for tickets. Indeed, current form is nothing to shout about and I guess more will go in hope rather than expectation.

    A poor performance in Paris will be a killer for the club. The Colin Bell will be empty for sure as the panic sets in to try and fill the camera angles with full seats.

    The Twentys plenty campaign I'd a start. The gesture by the clubs to charge £30 for away games is a start but this is still over priced and it won't be long before ticket prices across the board are rightly challenged. As the saying goes, without fans football is nothing.

    Add to the fire that rumours about season ticket prices were to be increased but in light of what happened at Liverpool earlier this season and some clubs have announced freezes it has got City worried behind the scenes. So let's see what happens here also.

    Going forward City could show the way and charge £20 for adults throughout the stadium (after expanding it) would yield more young fans who could carry the torch and would create better atmospheres at games for me.

    • March 19, 2016  2:13 pm by David Walker Reply

      Excellent, well crafted and comprehensive comments on the subject. You make a whole host of valid observations. You're spot on in respect of ticket sales if - God forbid - City don't come away with a hopeful outcome from Paris. It would be acutely embarrassing if the Etihad was only half full for our first ever Champions League QF - but it is a possibility.

      Revenue streams are vitally important to City , as they are to any club, in an increasingly competitive market but, taken in isolation, one wonders if a little more thought and pragmatism could have gone into the pricing structure for this particular game.

      The vast majority of City fans appreciate you pay for a superior 'product' - like most things in life - but it doesn't do to ignore the groundswell of opinion from your customer base - as in any line of business. It's just perverse that the English Premier League clubs have money coming out of every orifice thanks to Sky & BT, but still charge more than the rest of Europe's elite.

      The debate goes far beyond this game and one can only hope City don't feel the need to increase match prices next season, especially after the £265m Chinese investment in the City Group and the prospect of Jean-Louis Dupont blowing a big hole in UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules and allowing Sheikh Mansour to invest more freely in MCFC.

  3. March 19, 2016  11:53 am by Seamus Reply

    The prices in England are double the average prices in Europe. The home of football is being extorted.

  4. March 19, 2016  11:58 am by Richard Cooper Reply

    Are the club in total control of the pricing for these European games ? I take Cityblue's point that with success comes cost.
    Evening games are not the easiest to get to anyway traffic wise (average 1 1/2 hours for 25 miles) and am sure the prices quoted won't encourage what ought to be a full house providing the away leg gives "City a chance".
    If the top price was say £45 it would surely be better to have more "bums on seats" and an atmosphere and still get the same revenue

    • March 19, 2016  2:19 pm by David Walker Reply

      Good question in terms of do City have autonomy on ticket pricing - I don't know the answer. It'd be interesting to see what fans attending the other three QF ties are being charged in Germany and Spain, and then France and Portugal for the return ties.

      It behoves City to do everything they can to generate a better atmosphere on Champions League nights, starting with packing the stadium and making it as affordable as possible. City fans aren't putting out the begging bowl and seeking charity, but it does make you wonder if the business acumen within MCFC is somewhat at odds with supporter feedback and requirements.

  5. March 19, 2016  12:04 pm by Lynn Rutledge Reply

    These prices are outrageous. Kiev game was £30 for me and £5 for my grandson. Now they want £50 and £20 respectively - £20 for kids!!!! Really disappointed and being on the cup scheme means I have no choice but to pay. Worse thing is those of us on the cup scheme get no extra discount.

    • March 19, 2016  2:25 pm by David Walker Reply

      Good observations Lynn. The carrot dangling exercise of giving supporters a couple of hundred extra loyalty points for subscribing to the various Cup schemes does seem hollow when prices shoot up at such a sharp % rate. Tickets are usually not that difficult to come by for European nights, so one wonders if fans will shy away from signing up for the schemes in future.

      It's come to my attention that supporters might actually be able to cancel their membership of any MCFC Cup scheme, relinquish the initial loyalty points incentive and then exercise their right NOT to have to buy tickets, be it Champions League, FA Cup or League Cup. Food for thought.

  6. March 19, 2016  12:17 pm by Mike Dickson Reply

    The club's attitude to its fans have changed in the last two years. Initially they kept it a fans club but not now it is all about the money. Doubling ticket prices for the best seats and driving out the people who have sat in those seats for twenty years was the beginning of the end of that approach.

    • March 19, 2016  2:32 pm by David Walker Reply

      It's a sad indictment in so many ways and to call it 'progress' is questionable to say the least. City have improved immeasurably on the field of play in the past eight years and we - as supporters - get a greatly enhanced 'match day' experience at the Etihad, way beyond any other club in this country. There are pros and cons but there is a danger that the club is going too far in the wrong direction for the liking of many fans.

      Attending matches must be affordable to the masses and not just the elite, otherwise we may all just as well pack up and not bother attending. I'm sure the paymasters at Sky & BT would soon be in a panic if there flagship product was being viewed on TV around the world in half-empty stadiums.

  7. March 19, 2016  1:27 pm by Alison Reply

    I consider myself lucky whilst the cost of a ticket is not an issue for me I have seen many comments from fellow blues who simply cannot afford the price of the ticket for the match, especially those with families. These are the fans who have followed city through thick and thin over the years in the lower divisions, and to some degree their contribution with the massive following has kept the club afloat financially and that is our history and backbone. not to leave our newer fans out when talking of history they equally may find the cost too pricey. This club is going
    from strength to strength to compete with the best in the world I just hope the club does not loose sight with its fans after all a club is nothing without fans. A reduction of £5-£10 in the stands levels 1&3 for this one match is not going to affect the bottom line revenue at the end of the season cmon city support the fans......

    • March 19, 2016  2:37 pm by David Walker Reply

      Nicely put - thank you for stating what should be blindingly obvious to anyone but the greediest of business executives. How stupid will City look if we are trailing by 2 or 3 goals from the 1st Leg in Paris and only 25,000 fans turnout on April 12th to try and 'roar' City onto victory?

      It boils down to trying to strike a balance that suits both club and supporters alike. The fans don't expect something for nothing but, with the riches of Abu Dhabi behind the club, the massive revenues from TV deals and burgeoning commercial deals, City have a chance to lead and others to follow. They don't appear to be doing so in this instance.

  8. March 19, 2016  1:47 pm by Neil Reply

    My major problem with the pricing, and interestingly, it is not one that affect's me - Is the people who are on The Champions League Cup scheme do not reap the benefits of being loyal "customers" of UEFA's premier competition.

    The good folk on the Cup Scheme have paid their dues for every game and watched some appalling football, sometimes surrounded by away fans, always surrounded by tourists and they do not get a reasonable subsidiary for their loyalty.

    The Cup Scheme people should get tickets capped at £30 and then hammer the likes of me, who will pick and choose what European Cup game they go to.

    I have done 2 Champions League home games, Barca , it cost me £50 and CSKA, I got a comp, so to penalise the loyal supporters who pay their dues against the lesser teams is horrendous.

    For the record, I am a SC holder, I go away and I do the odd CL away day, so I'm not a "happy clapper" or "glory grabber" just a working class fella, who would like football to return to the working class.

    • March 19, 2016  2:44 pm by David Walker Reply

      Brilliant feedback Neil, especially in the light of your own self-effacing comments about you not being a member of the Champions League Cup scheme.

      City might argue that the additional 'loyalty' points awarded for Cup Scheme members is reward enough, but probably not many fans would agree.

      If loyalty is defined as having a captive audience who are expected to pay whatever prices are arbitrarily decided by over zealous sales managers then what price loyalty?

      I know you to be a 'proper' fan and I'm sure your thoughts and reasoning will resonate with many. Thanks for commenting.

  9. March 19, 2016  2:38 pm by Susan Bookbinder Reply

    I always loved the fact that City have never fleeced their fans the way other top clubs have and continue to rob their loyal fans, so it is disappointing that the prices have been hiked, thus excluding many of us going through tough times. Well done for having the guts to raise the subject, David, as always in your eloquent style. You have the respect of thousands of so many thousands of City fans, who will be grateful that you have spoken out on our behalf.

    • March 19, 2016  2:54 pm by David Walker Reply

      Don't get me wrong Suzy, I am not in anyway assuming any role as a standard bearer for hard-pressed supporters, BUT I felt it appropriate to at least put the matter up for a wider debate amongst fans. As a City fan of more than 47 years I must confess to thinking I would never see City win the Premier League or even participate in the Champions League, prior to Sheikh Mansour's intervention.

      It's not as if I, or any City fan, wants to bite the proverbial hand that has delivered such unbridled joy in recent years, but maybe the powers that be can take a timeout and reflect on staying in tune with the fans.

      The Abu Dhabi Group has devised and implemented a superb business strategy over the past eight years, one that will doubtless continue to deliver great results for City for many years to come. The hope is that enough loyal true blue fans will be able to keep apace to be able afford to witness the glories first hand in the Etihad Stadium.

      Thank you for your kind comments.

  10. March 19, 2016  2:54 pm by Gary Derbyshire Reply

    I'm in the cup scheme and my 2 sons tickets are too, my main gripe is that the draw was at dinner time on Friday and I'll be £75 lighter first thing on Monday morning! Are the club that far out of touch to not realise that the majority of people
    get paid at the end of the month? Anyway, as a cup "schemer" I get a £5 discount on my tickets, so my kids tickets stand me at £15 which I can live with due to the stage of the competition and the quality of the opposition. I find £45 for me quite steep and I suppose I can count myself lucky not to be paying £60! If we lose 3-0 in the first leg how many people will part with that type of cash for what will effectively be a pointless game? It'll just be like the Kiev game, a shite atmosphere in a half empty stadium. We want the place rocking ala Hamburg a few years back. The thing is if we're still in the tie come the second leg the game will probably sell out and the club will be none the wiser and continue to take the piss. By the way, me and my family are going away for a 5 day break, and guess when that is?? I don't fancy my chances of clawing my £75 back too. Great article again, David

    • March 19, 2016  3:05 pm by David Walker Reply

      Passionate comments Gary straight from the heart. Whoever will forget the atmosphere generated that game when City nearly, so nearly, clawed back the 1st leg deficit on Hamburg - a night of valiant failure...and we still talk about it with such relish, however many years later. Contrast that with recent times and the graveyard feeling in fixtures against Kiev, Juventus, CSKA etc.

      In fairness, the Champions League has delivered moments of ecstasy e.g. Sergio's hat-trick against Bayern, the comeback against Borussia Moenchengladbach, last gasp winners against Sevilla and Villarreal but it behoves the club to encourage sceptical fans into the European fold. Big price hikes don't fit into that category.

      Here's hoping City do a great job in Paris and everybody is gagging for a piece of the action on April 12th and you can find a good home for your surplus tickets. Cheers fella CTWD.

  11. March 19, 2016  4:53 pm by Ian Barton Reply

    Reading the above comments and those on various web sites it is clear that there is a strong feeling that we as fans are now being over charged & that he tipping point has been reached. I dearly hope that the club back track on the pricing & given the reaction of the fans they must surely be giving thought to this. I note the question on what PSG are charging, to date the price is not shown on their web site but the game against Nantes is listed with tickets from €67 so it's likely to be more than that for the game against us.

    • March 19, 2016  6:54 pm by David Walker Reply

      On the basis a lot of Premier League clubs have already announced a freeze on season ticket prices, along with the Liverpool rebellion that forced a U-turn from the FSG to hike prices up to £77, it has to be hoped that City are not even entertaining the prospect of any overall increase in charges to fans. It's wholly unnecessary, especially in the light of the mind boggling amounts of revenue coming in from TV rights.

      It makes you wonder how some of the top European clubs can charge fans half of what Premier League clubs charge, and yet still have the upper hand in the Champions League and Europa League. I don't envisage any changes by MCFC on prices for the PSG fixture, I just hope it ends up being money well spent on a cracking tie at the Etihad. If - IF - it all ends in tears, someone in the City hierarchy wants to be scanning the Situations Vacant columns come mid-April.

      Thanks for your thoughts your Lordship ;-)

  12. March 19, 2016  5:36 pm by Doug Henshaw Reply

    I have over the years defended city against everything that was thrown at us over the years. But it's with a heavy heart I say that the club is in the wrong here & it could well backfire on them. This is pushing one of the most loyal sets of fans right to the edge, do they not realise if the prices were lower more would attended??. I realise the is a price to pay for success but this priceing is wrong undefensable in my eyes. Has there been any response from the club yet Dave?? I just hope there is a rethink on this.

    • March 19, 2016  7:00 pm by David Walker Reply

      There won't be any response from MCFC to this blog Doug - that'll be a chilly day in Hell when that happens. I don't flatter myself that I wield any influence at all, but by the same token, I'll write what I feel is right and hopefully provoke debate. It's not an anti City stance, it's simply putting something on the radar and seeing if it strikes a chord with fellow fans.

      I sincerely hope that the 2nd leg is a sellout and that City fans can find the money to support their team, all the way through to the semi finals and beyond. It would just be more palatable if the powers that be could come up with a pricing formula that is more readily acceptable and accessible to the overwhelming majority of diehard blues.

  13. March 19, 2016  6:02 pm by Pete lynch Reply

    Phew...thought I was a robot for a moment! I'm in a privileged position where the ticket price is easily affordable however is it value for money and could city have done this differently? In my humble opinion City could have led the way on this and charged a rate affordable and in line with our German neighbours. That way we fill the stadium and we also distance ourselves from the greedy hyenas of the premier league. Let's face it, we can afford it!

    • March 19, 2016  7:12 pm by David Walker Reply

      Having established that you are indeed '...only human...' thanks for your succinct and sound observations. City have blazed a trail on a number of fronts since September 1st 2008, maybe they can do so once again with the 'average Joe' MCFC fan in mind.

      I couldn't tell you what defines the demographic of your typical City fan, but keeping football 'affordable' to 52,000 fans - and rising - would be a start.

      As things stand 3,000 away supporters will pay a maximum of £30 per Premier League fixture at the Etihad - equating to £570 for 19 games. That sounds like great value for money to me.

  14. March 19, 2016  7:52 pm by CiTyBlUe Reply

    If the stadium is half empty them that's the fans fault, not the clubs fault even if they did raise the cost. You setiously think our owners just pump money in and expect nothing in return. You all want a free handout. Only embarrassing people are you cheat skates.

    • March 19, 2016  9:37 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks for that well measured comment on a large section of the City support base. Who has asked for a free hand out? Who specifically are you labelling an embarrassment? Have you ever thought of applying for George Osborne's job at No 11? By God I bet you could show that namby-pamby liberal do-gooder a few things about austerity and really turn the screw. I don't know what your line of business is, but you might want to consider it, especially as George's Knutsford constituency is only a short drive from the Etihad.

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