Norwich City chiefs take the plunge and ask fans to stick with them
PUBLISHED: 18:55 16 January 2017 | UPDATED: 18:55 16 January 2017
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It's been one of the elephants in the room in recent weeks but Norwich City have now taken the plunge and decided to announce season ticket prices, regardless of the difficult timing.
Announcing renewal details on the back of an embarrassing defeat at Rotherham on Saturday is far from ideal for the money makers at Carrow Road.
Optimism and enthusiasm are hardly peaking among the Canaries faithful at the moment, following Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at bottom-of-the-league Rotherham.
That was a ninth defeat in 13 matches and continued City’s slide from the top of the table in October to 11th place and eight points outside the play-off places.
So increasing season ticket prices was completely out of the question for the club’s hierarchy. Anything short of another freeze on prices would have gone down like a lead balloon in the current climate.
Credit is due for getting that decision right, with ticket prices ahead of the first deadline equating to just under £22 per match for adults in the Championship. It also continues some excellent value for younger fans, starting at £94.75 for under-18s in family areas and £180.50 in the Barclay Stand.
The complete lack of mention of the potential for the tickets to be for Premier League football was certainly noticed by plenty of fans though – flying in the face of the chief executive Jez Moxey’s pledge of ‘promotion, promotion, promotion’ at November’s AGM.
The annual accounts that were signed off at the beginning of that meeting showed that City had 20,481 season ticket holders for the 2015/16 campaign in the Premier League, a small decrease of 292 on the year before.
If fortunes on the pitch do not soon pick up then decreases in people buying tickets could well continue in future years – something that fans of Ipswich Town can tell us a thing or two about.
However, going to games at Carrow Road is an institution, a staple family activity in Norfolk.
At times the insatiable demand for the Canaries meant tickets had become like gold dust. The fun and adventure of Paul Lambert’s revolution meant there was less debate about the expense of attending and more talk of when the stadium would be expanded to allow more supporters to join in.
The stay-away protests of many fans for this month’s FA Cup game with Southampton, which saw an attendance of just over 12,000, proved that gravy train is running out of steam though.
When the new broadcast riches of the Premier League were in reach, the millions generated by season tickets were about to be dwarfed by tens of millions but with that money now well out of reach as promotion hopes drift, the money generated by ticket sales is once again becoming vital.
Set against a backdrop of just one more year of parachute payments, those finances are balanced rather precariously, so it was no surprise to hear high words of praise for supporters from Moxey as the price freeze was announced.
Under the headline of ‘You are City, you are Carrow Road, stay part of the family’ it was made clear that the club do appreciate just how important their supporters are.
However, it is a family with plenty of issues to work through.
This morning a large chunk of supporters were expecting to see a managerial change and a public acceptance that things were no longer working under Alex Neil.
Instead, fans were told how much of their hard-earned money they will be parting with in the coming months – with no re-emphasis of those Premier League ambitions for added encouragement.