Hand To Mouth: Harsh Realities For Football League Clubs In 2013


Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.

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6 Responses

  1. Dean says:

    Notts were charging £24 for away fans against Preston on Tuesday. I have a friend who is a PNE fan, and he was going, but no way would I pay that as a neutral.

    Clubs are pricing themselves towards low attendances, and Notts are one. Do they not realise that people are finding times hard out there? Do they watch the news at all?

    The FL needs to help by anticipating when CL fixtures will be televised on ITV and arrange their fixtures to avoid the kock-out rounds, if possible, and also to encourage clubs to play on Wednesday nights rather than Tuesdays. Maybe end the season a week later – get more Saturday fixtures and fewer winter midweeks when it is cold?

    I’m not a marketing man, but do the FL employ one? If they do, he’s not doing a great job of promoting the FL or its member clubs.

  2. BigAl says:

    Good article, but I think you mean Preston in para 1, rather than Shrewsbury?

  3. Ian says:

    Quite right, Al. Read the line wrong on the results page in my hurry to get it tied up before work this morning. Have amended it. Cheers for pointing it out.

  4. Row Z says:

    League Two has been in trouble for a while now. Since 2004/05 average attendances have been trending downwards – whereas in the other divisions attendances (and the Conference) they have merely been flat-lining

    See this graph I knocked-up a while back: http://rowzfootball.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/index1.jpg

    If it carries on into the not too distant future there is a major question mark over it’s viability.

    Strangely I think the solution is to promote 3 from the Conference – at least for the next few seasons. League Two will only be better off having stronger sides like Luton, Grimsby, Wrexham and Stockport in the division in exchange for some of the weaker clubs.

  5. Beerseller says:

    Here’s my current thinking for what its worth:

    I’m a season ticket holder at Doncaster Rovers and have been for 30 years. I no longer attend away games due to the cost of travel and tickets. I am becoming completely uninterested in all European games, never bother to watch a europa league match and only bother with the champions league final. Even premier league games usually leave me cold. Any televised match really has to grab my interest if I am going to watch it all the way through.

    Me and a fellow DRFC season ticket holder have begun watching non-league football from NCEL up to conference north. Its cheap, played in a proper spirit and with a proper “football family” feel – if that makes sense.

    Many years ago we would have either gone to DRFC away matches or to a local footbal league game. The changes stopping this are in no particular order of importance and just the ones I can think of:

    1. Cost of tickets
    2. The faffing around to obtain a match ticket instead of pay on the gate.
    3. All seater stadia
    4. Lack of atmosphere (does anyone else find the atmosphere at many grounds tends toward the negative these day ie in effect more booing than cheering)
    5. Over-zealous stewarding

    What it boils down to is this; the non-league day out is far closer to my personal historical familiarity with football than much of what is offered at league grounds these days. I must be getting old.

  6. Tony Roome says:

    Good to see an accurate, and thoughtful, article about this problem. Couple of points:

    Some of the clubs, and Leyton Orient is one, are suffering from undeniable demographic changes in the areas which traditionally provided their support. East London has a significant immigrant population, black and white and from all over the world from South Africa through Asia and Eastern Europe. The club finds it difficult to connect with this potential fan base – despite special offers, adverts in the relevant newspapers etc. Kids from the community are taking a full part in the community schemes the club’s community programme runs, but its not easy to translate attendance at Saturday morning football school into attendance at a home game. At the same time, our traditional fan base is moving out to Essex, Kent and to the north east of London, which makes travel to home games more difficult and more expensive. If Orient are to survive – particularly now it seems inevitable that West Ham will, eventually, move into the Olympic Stadium – then we need to find new and effective ways to attract fans from the local community. If we can’t do that, then the only real alternatives are to fade into history, or move.

    On the question of the pay cap, I am torn. It seems to be an appropriate way to keep clubs on the straight and narrow, but should it be based, as I understand it is, solely on revenue. It seems to me that going down this route means we are, in effect, encouraging clubs to maximise revenue income which, as you point out, means there’s a need to maximise gate revenue at this level. Maybe there’s a better way?

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