Paul Baker on BBC price of football reportCheltenham Town chairman Paul Baker says he is proud of the value for money offered by League Two Cheltenham Town.
In response to today’s BBC report on the cost of football, which stated that watching the Robins was more expensive than Premier League champions Manchester City, Baker said the comparisons were unfair.
City's cheapest season ticket is £299, compared with Cheltenham's lowest of £270 for an early bird terrace season ticket, with £350 the lowest for a seated equivalent in the Jelf Stand.
"I do think it is somewhat unfair to compare our situation with Premier League clubs who are literally awash with money and could slash ticket prices if they really wanted to," Baker said.
"The reality of life in the Football League is that ticket revenue is our most important revenue source. I think we have got a pretty good record on ticket prices over the last 10 years during which time we have invested heavily in the stadium improving facilities and the match day experience for our customers.
"Of course we have still experienced increases in our costs which we have to recover, the only alternative is to reduce the playing budget as all other areas of our operation are already run on a shoestring, but fans quite rightly expect us to support the playing budget as much as we can, and recent successes, with play-off appearances for two years in a row, are testament to that.
"We also offer some excellent season ticket and ‘multi-ticket’ packages, significant concessions for pensioners and students and free admission to all Under-11s. What is needed is some redistribution of wealth within the game which would enable clubs like us to reduce prices."
Adult and concession prices at Cheltenham have risen by 16 per cent over seven years (average of only 2.4 per cent per year – on a par with retail price index over the same period), but child prices have remained unchanged for 12 years.
During that time the club have also increased the child age to Under-18, included students at this level and brought in the Under-11s free scheme.
These figures don’t take into account premium games, but the basic prices have only increased by £1 over the past five years.
The club's approach has been to go down the premium game route so if you average those increases out over the season, they still work out much less than inflation.
At £3.20 apiece, pies at Whaddon Road have been listed among the most expensive in League Two, but Baker said the club has done its best to listen to supporters over the catering options at the ground this season.
"We changed our ground caterer at the start of the season and so far the feedback has been very positive," he said. "There are now smarter facilities, smarter staff, fewer queues and better quality, but of course there has been an impact on prices.
"We will discuss this with our caterer, but lets not forget that a Premier League club will sell thousands of pies and can therefore buy them in much cheaper than we can, pricing comparisons are not as black and white as they may at first appear."