Newcastle United’s popularity drive continues apace this week. As if another win and fourth place with clubs in 2nd and 3rd dropping points wasn’t enough, now they have announced a reduced price season ticket deal. Existing season ticket holders can buy extra tickets for the remainder of the season at half price. A decent run has magically transformed fans from deluded and demanding into passionate and colourful, we’re led to believe. What next for the newly modernised Geordie hordes, free Starbucks and salad?
The ticket offer is a strange one. Only season ticket holders can take advantage, but they have one already. One they paid full price for, frozen or not. People who have agonised in these hard times about whether they can justify laying out so much money on what is essentially a luxury pastime can help others who have decided it doesn’t matter enough for them to do so to get a cheap deal. I know, it’s harsh to assume those without a ticket could afford one if they wanted to, many can’t and that’s all there is to it. I struggle to see how this is supposed to benefit season ticket holders though. Maybe they think we’ll get an extra ticket for a pal and split the difference, that way everyone wins. Maybe we’re supposed to grow another arse to buy a ticket for. Who knows? The fact of the matter is that there would have been uproar from season ticket holders if anyone could wait 5 home games into the season and get a ticket for half price. This is a marketing ploy to sell a few more tickets to waverers via mates, a clever one, and I applaud the club for that and encourage them in it. I see no need to be grateful to them for it however.
There is something we should be grateful for that was highlighted by the club’s mission statement announced over the weekend. Newcastle should break even this season, perhaps even make a modest operating profit. For all those who think an oligarch or oil despot is needed to be competitive in the Premier League; they aren’t. Whatever minor success is achieved by Newcastle this season, whether it be plain survival, year-on-year progression into the top half, or an unlikely trail blazed into European competition, it has been funded from one source and one source only. Not from the pockets of Mike Ashley or some other rich man, not by overspending and endangering the future of the club, but by the contributions of fans buying tickets, beer, pies, strips and tv subscriptions. Every penny going out is now covered by one going in. It proves it can be done and there is no reason to suppose that it couldn’t continue in the future should the ownership model ever change.
Self sufficiency is an admirable achievement, made possible by strategic decisions of the owner, but it is fans who can feel proud that their club, now entirely funded by themselves, is performing well with a talented and committed young team. Nobody knows if the current run of form can be maintained. Wherever they finish, no-one can say it’s undeserved, either in a financial or footballing sense.