Posted by Callum West who is writing on behalf of all those who are boycotting the Chelsea v Gent game:
Whilst our campaign has been met with an overwhelmingly positive reaction from great swathes of the match going Chelsea public, there have also, as is to be expected, been some dissenters in the ranks. This has ranged from apathy and vitriol to genuine questioning of our aims, our choice of game and doubting of our methodology, sometimes from equally loyal match going fans.
One such suggestion is that many of the boycotters wouldn’t have attended Genk anyway. Whilst we cannot account for every, of we hope many, empty seats against the Belgium side, the vast majority of us are loyal season ticket holders, many of whom are on the away and the away European schemes who would have attended and given the team and the manager, who retain our full support, our vocal backing had the prices remained sensible. An argument we believe is supported by full houses in equivalent matches over the past three seasons against MSK Zillina, APOEL Nicosia and Cluj, where entry was priced at either £25 or £30, and one which we hope will be outlined by a full house against Fulham in the Carling Cup.
Another accusation is that we’ve only picked Genk because they’re the worst team in the group. In essence this is true, however not as the accusation continues because we are somehow glory supporters, but because it provides us with the best platform to send a message to the club that their disregard for long standing fans and economic circumstance cannot continue. We hear that if we were serious we would boycott Barcelona, for one it is difficult to organise a boycott for a hypothetical fixture and we believe that action is needed now. Secondly we are not naive enough to ignore the fact that there are more than enough tourists and day-trippers who would take our ticket against Barcelona, as atmospheres in recent knock out ties against Inter Milan and Manchester United can attest to. This would render any potential Barcelona boycott redundant. The clubs main motivation is revenue, they are unfortunately guaranteed that from the big games, our aim is to show them they cannot expect to charge £40 for less attractive games and expect loyal fans to lump it.
A popular response is that £40 is in fact £10 cheaper than a ticket for a Premier League game, the simple answer to that is that for many season ticket holders it isn’t. Whilst members may pay upwards of £50 for a League game they make up around only a fifth of the crowd for a League game. For season ticket holders in the Matthew Harding, Shed and East Lower Tiers Season Tickets work out as less than £40 a ticket, this despite a £100 hike over the past two seasons.
Lastly, it has been suggested that we could ‘find’ £40 if we have to, perhaps if we altered our lifestyle and cut cloth accordingly, perhaps some could, but our point is you shouldn’t have to find the money to support your football team, it is supposedly the working man’s game and many have already had to find the money for their season ticket, away trips and European away trips over the last few months. Furthermore if you keep accepting the prices, diligently turning up, it will only lead to another increase and then another increase until one day you can no longer find the money. Another 33% increase next season would see group stage tickets for group games cost £53.20.
For us football is at a crossroads, as the money men try to wrestle it permanently from the working men who are the traditional heart and soul of the game, its lifeblood. The club have drawn a line in the sand with their pricing of the Champions’ League group stages and we’ve chosen our side. Perhaps our boycott will be unsuccessful, but a wasted effort is better than no effort at all.
Posted by Callum West