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Manchester City need to look after their season ticket holders… they’re the backbone of the club!



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In this week’s edition of his City Xtra column, Amos Murphy makes the case for Manchester City season ticket holders and why they should be protected. 

When will it stop? That was the question being asked by Manchester City supporters this week when the club announced yet another season ticket price hike. The backlash has been fierce, the anger tangible, and as of now, the silence from the club deafening. 

This isn’t a problem that has stemmed overnight. As pointed out by season ticket holders, prices have been rising little by little, season on season, while freezes to those costs have been nowhere to be seen. 

Most, if not all, will recognise that price rises are a necessary part of being a football fan. It’s a natural part of everyday life. Time goes by and things get more expensive. But this isn’t a group of angry old men shouting at a cloud. It would appear the frustration is justifiable. 

In November of last year, Manchester City came out boasting record profits for the 2022/23 season. According to their own report, revenue jumped by just under £100 million on the back of the club’s most successful on-pitch season ever.

So it begs the question, why are fans the ones forking out more money each year to go and watch their football team play? For the season ticket holders who have been attending matches for decades, they didn’t choose the club for success. Quite the opposite. 

And while it makes sense for a season ticket at the reigning Premier League, European and world champions to cost more than it would at a team further down the football pyramid, just because City are backed by vast wealth, it doesn’t automatically make those that follow the club rich too. 

Then there’s the argument that other clubs charge the same, or in a lot of cases, more, but what solace is that to the supporters who support City and only City? Unlike any other product, where if the market leader suddenly became unattainable financially, there isn’t an alternative for those fans who have stuck by the club they cherish. 

As Eric Cantona put it best, “You can change your wife, your politics, your religion. But never, never can you change your favourite football team.” Instead, in City’s case, the season ticket holders have been the backbone of the club, certainly through thick, but also through thin. 

In part, from the club’s perspective, that’s part of the problem. For a growing giant of the game like City, season ticket holders are an inconvenience. 

Gone are the days when City would welcome season ticket holders as a guaranteed revenue stream. The folk who, even when times were bad on the pitch (and honestly, it was bad), would still rock up, buying their pre-match pie and pint, before trudging back home and doing it all over again the following week. 

Manchester City are a global brand now. In some ways, the Etihad Stadium is a tourist attraction, not a football ground. And for some matches, tickets just aren’t attainable, for love, nor (unless you’ve got a lot of it) money. 

So the ‘legacy’ fan, whose only intention is to click through the turnstiles, watch the match and bugger off back home 19 times a season isn’t the profitable one. 

That isn’t to demean those who visit the Etihad Stadium to watch City, who might not share the long-standing connection with the club that season ticket holders do. Far from it. Everybody is welcome. 

Moreover, it’s a recognition that it doesn’t have to be one or the other. As the club expands and grows, in order for City to retain their charm, the ‘legacy’ fans have to be protected too. There still have to be concessions from both as well, supporters included. The club has changed immeasurably in the last 20 years and beyond, with City undoubtedly a better club for it.

Some might long for the Maine Road days again, but the majority wouldn’t swap bouncing up and down the divisions, fighting relegation season after season, for the joys that have been experienced in the last 10 years. That’s a given.  

And make no mistake, City still get plenty right for the fans. Their season ticket prices, generally speaking, remain some of the lowest compared to their ‘Big Six’ Premier League rivals. Couple that with the benevolence of their community projects and it’s evident there’s still plenty to respect City for. 

But at a time when most ordinary people are already feeling the pinch of rising food and bill costs, there was an open goal for City to put their arm around season ticket holders and offer a price freeze for just one year. Instead, they missed the target from two yards out.