So we’ve made it to within 90 minutes of the ‘promised land’, the pinnacle of every regular football fan’s life. Images are brought to mind of a sun-soaked Wembley pitch with thousands of your fellow fans hugging each other and crying tears of happiness after the game, at the magic they have just witnessed. Strangers become friends and eternal bonds are forged over the sport that we love…
It is then fitting that the ruling bodies that control our game see fit to milk our passion, specifically in our wallets, for every penny that we’re worth.
After going to three previous play-off finals in my life watching Town, one at the new Wembley, one at Old Trafford and one at the Millennium Stadium, the prices that were set then do not come close to eclipsing the extortionate prices that have the FA & the EFL have given us for the so-called ‘richest game in world football’ (worth a cool £100-£200m for the victor).
As the price bands were announced, even the most pessimistic side of me thought I would be paying maximum £70 for the best seat in the house. Oh, how wrong I was.
Prices started for a seat up in the gods at £36 for ‘Category 5’. It then progressed alarmingly up to £52 for Category 4, £64 for Category 3, £76 for Category 2 and an obscene £98 for the best seats in the house at Category 1. True, there are concessions for over-60s and under-16s but even with those discounts you could still, pay up to £50 for your elderly relative, young child or teenager’s match ticket. This is without taking into consideration the huge potential cost of accommodation, travel & food & drink.
I’m in a privileged position as a London-based Town fan. All I have to do is remember to take my ticket, hop on the London Underground from my East London train station and take it all the way to Wembley (albeit the journey is still a particularly long one for London standards).
However, like probably 90% of fans making the exodus to Wembley, they don’t have this luxury. Some will have to look at booking expensive hotels due to the short notice of the game, book flights from foreign countries, from stag dos they have to wrangle themselves out of or even weddings.
For some Town fans, the cost of travel and accommodation could range from £100 to upwards of £2000 or more in some extreme cases.
What message are the EFL and the FA sending with these extortionate ticket prices?
Why is it for England games, that they give generous discounts and prices to fans in order to fill a national stadium to watch an England team where a good percentage of the public feel complete apathy towards them after recent showings in major tournaments?
Instead of selling tickets for affordable prices so that young families, older people and working-class fans that make up a large percentage of town fans can go, they hike up the prices to squeeze every last penny out of their cash-cow match.
For a lot of Town fans, whatever price it is, it’s worth it for a once-in-a-lifetime game like this. Dreams could come true and lives could forever be changed. But for once, could magic be sold at a discount, not a premium.