Derby County fans' panel
In the first of a new series, we give Derby County fans the opportunity air their views. University of Derby student Ashley Wilkinson is the first to give an opinion.
I HAVE supported Derby County since I was four, when Messrs Sturridge and van der Laan were gracing the Baseball Ground turf.
I have been a season ticket holder since the club were relegated in 2002 and have not thought twice about renewing a season-ticket. Until now.
My 2012-13 ticket, unfortunately, will be my last for the foreseeable future.
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Valid until: Wednesday, May 22 2013
Turning 22 last November means I will now graduate from the discounted “young adult” band and into the grown-up realms of “adult” prices.
My season ticket, which cost me just over £200 last year, will now set me back a mighty £425, or £480 if I’m unable to renew before this season has even finished.
For a student who is set to finish university in May, priorities like finding a place to live and searching for a full-time job have to take precedence over such an expensive luxury. I would never complain at having to pay adult prices having reached the age to do so.
What I do question is why my seat, which is situated in the East Stand Lower, has been moved up another category.
As far as I can tell, the view hasn’t got any better in the 10 years I’ve sat there and, if I’m being honest, the football on the pitch hasn’t justified another price hike either.
It’s worse for others. A senior gentleman who sits in the seat behind mine told me last Saturday that renewal was £200 this season but is now £275.
This gentleman was a season ticket holder before the days of Clough and Taylor and attended the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley.
He has put a lot of money into this club over his lifetime but has now been told to cough up an extra £75 if he wants to keep the seat he has had since Pride Park opened in 1997.
With attendances falling sharply, this season’s average gate is around 6,000 less than the 2008-09 figure.
Stories of price hikes for seniors and disabled fans do little for the club’s image in the eyes of their loyal customers.
If prices continue to rise, then surely potential new season ticket holders will be put off buying and attendances will only fall further, particularly when the club are still mid-table in the Championship.
The club are to be commended for their cheap South Stand season tickets, which should help generate a better atmosphere, particularly if a trial of “safe standing” comes to fruition.
But for those who prefer to sit at games, including those who have no choice but to do so, next season’s ticket prices are representative of a club which runs the risk of growing further alienated from its loyal fan base.
That would ultimately be the biggest price to all.