Ticket prices up and down the country are increasingly being put under the microscope, with supporter groups, ex-pros and journalists demanding authorities deliver more affordable football for fans.
It was yesterday revealed that Wanderers fans will have to fork out £32 for adults, £24 for over 65s and £17 for under 18s to watch their side take on Middlesbrough in our first away match of the new season - not to mention the £18 required to pay for coach travel to Middlesbrough - and it's safe to say Wanderers fans weren't best impressed:
But these price revelations are simply indicative of the ticket rip off up and down the Championship every week. This weekend sees our opposing Derby County fans paying up to £33 to visit the Macron, while Bristol City adults must stump up a whopping £39 to watch their side at Sheffield Wednesday, which has led to the club's Supporters Trust and Supporters Group boycotting their return to the Championship. Meanwhile Burnley fans are being charged £37 to see their game at Leeds United, as Huddersfield Town and Wolverhampton Wanderers fans have to pay £27 to see their sides visit Hull City and Blackburn Rovers respectively.
Prices across the league for home fans are just as bad if not worse. Queens Park Rangers supporters have to shell out up to £37 every week, Burnley fans up to £38, Ipswich Town fans up to £45.50 and Hull City supporters spending up to £36 on regular tickets.
As far as Wanderers fans are concerned A Grade tickets cost between £28 and £35, B Grade tickets range from £25 to £32, and Grade C tickets cost between £23 and £29, with under 18 tickets costing £12. Season tickets to watch the Whites cost between £346 and £483 - an average of £16 to £23 per match.
The most mind boggling fact here is that Wanderers' average attendance last season was just 15,413 in a stadium that holds 28,723 - meaning on average the stadium was just 53.7% full, the joint second lowest in the Championship last season behind only Wigan Athletic. Indeed, the 24 Championship clubs last season only managed to sell 68% of their stadium capacity - leaving around 205,590 empty seats across the country.
With these facts in mind, there is surely an argument for Wanderers - and teams across the Championship - to lower their prices and encourage bigger crowds to roar their teams on. Wanderers' new Grade D category of tickets sees tickets available for £15 for adults and £5 for concessions, which is certainly a good start but more still needs to be done to make watching football more affordable for fans.
Time to take action
In response to the rising cost of watching football, a campaign run by the Football Supporters' Federation has called for the maximum price any football fan should have to pay for an away football ticket to be £20 (and no more than £15 for concessions), with their Twenty's Plenty campaign. It was picked up by nine league teams last season, saving 31,807 fans a total of £342,460 pounds with that figure expected to surpass £500,000 this season.
So is there anything that we as Bolton fans can do about this? Well actually, yes there is. LoVS spoke to The FSF this morning, and they encouraged any Wanderers fans who feel put out by the price they have to pay to watch football to get in touch. They can put us in contact with fans at other clubs who feel equally strongly - such as the Bristol City fans - and they can help fans organise protests and even organised walkouts from matches to help us all make a stand and get the price of watching football reduced.
There are signs of change elsewhere around the country as highlighted in a recent video on YouTube site Copa90 by YouTuber Spencer FC. The film, 'Ticket Prices Are Ruining Football,' focused on Bradford City's launch of £149 season tickets (£6.47 a game) down from the previous price of £199 - while if they bring a child under the age of 11, the child gets in for free. This ploy which has succeeded in driving up the number of season ticket holders at the club from around 13,000 to more than 18,000 - which means they're already making a profit on last season. Swansea City have also capped all away ticket prices at £22, which for a Premier League club is a strong move.
Making football more accessible seems a no-brainer for all Championship clubs. It's embarrassing to see so many matches in a league so many people call the most competitive in the world bordering on being empty, and it's about time we put an end to kids choosing to support the big clubs with all the money rather than their local team. Clubs have to make games more affordable for supporters to get them coming into the ground every week and reinvigorate their passion for real football (i.e. not the fat cat corporation that is the Premier League).
What do you think of ticket prices at the Macron and the away grounds we visit in the Championship? And would you support Wanderers fans standing up for their right for affordable football, or want to get involved? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.