West Ham have hit the newspapers yet again recently, but instead of it being the same stories speculating about Sam Allardyce’s position at the club, it is a positive story – well, at least for their fans.
In the middle of all the protests up and down the country about modern football being about money and not the sport, this story is a light and refreshing change.
As the Irons get ready for their big stadium move to Stratford, they have announced they will be selling cheaper tickets due to the change of the venue. West Ham are the first club to announce they are lowering ticket prices since the £5billion TV deal was announced in February.
Their idea is the German way of keeping football a “working man’s game.” In 2006, the Allianz Arena was developed in Munich for the World Cup in Germany.
The country wanted to hold the World Cup, so the country’s facilities received an upgrade. Fortuna Dusseldorf, Hertha Berlin and RB Leipzig all received new or upgraded stadiums due to the worldwide events happening in the country.
The Hammers are able to give back to the fans because the taxpayer part subsidised their new stadium when it was built for the Olympics. Other Premier League clubs, especially those who bid for the rights to the stadium, are not happy with the announcement.
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While fans may be getting their tickets at a cheaper price, which is great for them, it is not something other clubs who are paying vast amounts in rent for their stadiums can do.
When Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore was asked about the situation, he said: “There’s no point looking Sunderland in the eye and talking about ticket pricing.
“They’ve got a huge range of affordable ticket prices. There’s no point looking Aston Villa in the eye, they’re trying their damnedest to get people through the turnstiles. The places not priced as affordably as some people say they should be is where they sell out every week.
“There’s 20 different circumstances. Therefore I commend West Ham for the fact they’ve stretched pricing policy but I have no view on absolute pricing.”
In moving from the Boleyn Ground to the Olympic Stadium, their capacity is going up from 35,106 to 54,000. So in reality, if they fill the extra seats, they will actually be making more money.
Some season tickets will now cost as little as £289, which is a bit of a difference to those other clubs near them. Season tickets are becoming even harder to afford for most fans now and many fans are being priced out of going to the football – this needs to change.
While many may not think it’s fair that West Ham can now afford to drop their prices because they were the ones picked to take over the Olympic Stadium and other clubs did not have the option to bid for the stadium, the Hammers are at least taking the moral high ground when in actual fact they could have done nothing and given nothing back to their loyal fanbase.
“Put Football First” has been a slogan incorporated in many a football protest in recent years, as fans try to make football affordable again. West Ham have taken a step in the right direction and are using their privileged position well.
Other clubs are angry because they don’t feel they have the option, but there are plenty of other ways to give something back to your loyal supporters. They’re only angry because the directors at West Ham are making them look bad!
It is time football clubs remembered how important the fans are. Too many are thinking about the money before the football. Let’s hope this is not the demise of the great game.