Coming off the back of the busy Christmas and New Year period, Chelsea’s first away game of 2011 at Wolves is the first domestic away game of the 2010/11 season that the club have not sold out their entire ticket allocation.
With the club committing to take the full allocation available for Molineux and having to pay for them all, the unsold 300 tickets will not have been on sale at the ground on the night. This does not bode well for the upcoming mid week away matches at Bolton and Sunderland.
Train ticket sales on the subsidised Chelsea train to Bolton are, at the time of writing, very poor. The club hope that when match tickets go on sale to members train ticket sales will improve, but this remains to be seen and it could be that the train will be cancelled. Is this the sign of things to come and what can / will the club do about it?
Representations have been made to the club management that they offer a discount to people who buy train tickets for both Bolton and Sunderland, should the club be able to arrange a train for the game at the Stadium of Light. The chance to buy train tickets for £40-£50 for both games would surely entice a few more people to go?
It has long been the thought of many that should the club have an away game moved to a mid week date, some of the extra TV money received could be used to provide a very cheap or free train to help hard pressed supporters attend the match.
The decision of the club to pass on the VAT increase of 2.5% to supporters hardly helps the fact that home games are also struggling to sell out now.
It will be very interesting to see what sort of crowd is present at Stamford Bridge for the 2nd leg of the Champions League game against Copenhagen especially if Chelsea is carrying a good advantage from the 1st leg. MH and Shed Upper tickets will cost nearly £57, including the £1.50 booking fee, with MH and Shed Lower prices a little further behind on nearly £54. (See ‘Champions League Ticket Prices’ survey here)
For season ticket holders in these areas that represents a rise of £13 and £10 respectively, on prices they pay for Premier League games.
A hefty rise for a match that, potentially, could have nothing riding on it? It has been mentioned by many supporters that have contacted the CSG that they will not be going to the home game against Copenhagen regardless of the result of the 1st leg, as they consider the prices to be too high and they will either watch the match at home or meet friends and watch in one of the many pubs around Stamford Bridge.
Two of the next four home games are against less glamorous sides (Blackburn and Birmingham) both of whom will not bring many fans with them, it could well be that the two attendances fall some way short of capacity. With the team needing all the support they can get from the Chelsea fans, the possibility remains for a good number of the forthcoming games there will be less of them to give that support.
Season ticket and match ticket prices for next season will already be 2.5% higher than the start of this season, any additional increase imposed by the club will cause many supporters to think long and hard about renewing their season tickets or the amount of matches they attend. The club may think that this will not be a problem and there will be enough others to take their place, but with uncertain economic times ahead and uncertain times for continued success for the team, can they be sure?
With still no further news about increasing the capacity of Stamford Bridge or moving to a new, higher capacity ground, it seems ways of increasing revenue for Chelsea Football Club are limited. Will match going supporters have to shoulder the burden of increased ticket prices to enable Chelsea to remain competitive or will new individual club TV deals be the way forward?
Both ideas run the risk of playing to less than full stadiums.
Cliff Auger CSG Juvenile Rep