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Hard economic times can also foster innovation, and it’s no surprise that a supporter-owned and run club, FC United of Manchester, this summer became the first club I’ve heard of to allow supporters to set their own season ticket prices.
The Board is excited to announce a radical new campaign in which you can decide how much you pay for your own season ticket this summer.
At this stage in our development we need to recognise some important facts:
• Due to the costs of hiring playing facilities the club has made an operating loss over the past two years – we have been able to sustain this thanks to donations and original pledges
• Further cost-cutting measures will be implemented over the course of the next year, but there is a limit to how far these can go.
• We cannot continue to incur losses, especially as we need to demonstrate the club’s financial viability as we work towards our own ground in the near future
• We need to raise more revenue but we don’t want to do this by imposing unilateral ticket price increases – particularly in the current economic climate and in keeping with our philosophy of providing affordable football.
In light of this, FC United would like to become, to the best of our knowledge, the first club to say to supporters: “you decide how much you can individually afford and the value you place on being able to watch your team”.
The club did set a £90 minimum, £50 less than the 2008/9 season ticket price, but said supporters who could not afford that would be able to contact them to discuss the price. The board recommended supporters paid the £140 figure, and more if they could support it.
The interesting news is the scheme has been a success — according to the barometer on the FC United website, revenue has already amounted to £113,000, closing in on the £125,000 goal set in May.
As When Saturday Comes notes, the only other team to follow FC United’s initiative has unsurprisingly been another supporter-owned team — Scarborough Athletic, formed a couple of years ago to replace Scarborough. Boro are offering a range of price options on their website from £65 upwards, with the club just asking fans to “bear in mind that the club would probably have set fixed season ticket prices of £95.”
Boro chairman Simon Cope said the club were copying FC United’s scheme due its success financially and in empowering fans.
The scheme is about empowerment and collective responsibility. It shows we can all pull together to increase the prosperity of the club’s future in a way that reflects our founding principles as a fans-owned club. Scarborough Athletic FC is owned by its 500 members, so everyone has a vested interest in making this scheme a success.
It will be interesting to see if more clubs follow these examples next season.