Dundee Football Club yesterday announced plans to charge fans £30 to watch Scottish Premiership matches at Dens Park next season. We, as passionate but extremely concerned supporters of the club, call on them to rethink their pricing strategy and scrap this ill-conceived proposal.
The introduction of ‘Premium’ pricing above the existing Category A (£26) and Category B (£24) tiers means that the cost of attending certain games will have risen 15% over the last year and 33% since 2015/16.
This is a slap in the face for loyal supporters who have twice dug deep to save the club and completely unrealistic given that Dens offers the most basic facilities of any top-flight club and the city of Dundee has been hit hard by a decade of austerity.
When the club was promoted to the Premiership four years ago, a record number of season tickets was sold. The following summer saw a substantial increase in prices, particularly for OAPs, students and under-16s, with the result that sales fell sharply. Season tickets and pay at the gate prices have risen since then and the number of both groups attending matches has continued to fall.
Despite the clear link between rising admission prices and falling attendances, Dundee have chosen to impose this increase shortly after announcing that 1000 more attendees were need for the club to break even. This hardly seems like a strategy to get punters flocking back to Dens.
This business model appears to rest on two assumptions – that fans of clubs who traditionally bring large away supports to Dens will continue to do so despite them being charged £6 more than followers of other sides, and that enough of our own support will blindly pay whatever is asked of them. Both of these assumptions are flawed in our opinion.
With every admission rise, more fans are priced out of football. Others who can only just afford it find it harder to justify the sacrifices they must make elsewhere while others still will stop going either out of principle or because they feel the product is in no way commensurate with the costs involved.
The games falling under the Premium category are also likely to be moved to suit broadcasters. Fans are being asked to shell out £30 for matches taking place at the most inconvenient of times. The option of watching on TV becomes ever more attractive for many.
We fully understand that Scottish clubs operate in a challenging environment and that incredibly difficult decisions must be made in order to balance the books. We also appreciate that the board has underwritten losses in previous seasons, as well as having ambitious plans for a new stadium.
Nonetheless, any short-term financial gain from charging exorbitant prices will cause significant damage in the longer run. As well as making it harder and less appealing for PATG supporters to attend matches, this decision threatens to impact on season ticket sales as a substantial number of holders have expressed their intention not to renew as a result. Although they don’t stand to be directly affected by the increase, it feeds a growing perception that the board of directors are, at best, completely out of touch with average, working-class Dundee fans, and, at worst, happy to exploit their loyalty.
Not only this, but the announcement has come at the worst time possible. Our position in the Premiership remains precarious and, at the exact point when we need everyone coming together for the relegation battle ahead, Premiumgate has unnecessarily driven a wedge between the club and its fans.
It appears the Dundee board made this decision with no consultation with either club’s Supporter Liaison Officer or either of the recognised representative groups. We therefore call once more for the club to scrap these extortionate charges and engage constructively with supporters to find ways of growing the club’s fanbase and increasing revenue.
The WDTPR team