Had regular away followers of Preston North End been asked earlier in the week what they intended doing on December 20, the answer would been a simple ‘Going to Leeds’.
Such plans changed for a fair number when ticket prices for the away section at Elland Road landed.
If the Roses clash was being played today, it would be a battle of 16th versus 17th in the Championship – lower mid-table second-tier fare.
Yet North End supporters are being asked to pay £37 for an adult ticket.
If you make a last-minute decision to go, the price goes up to £42 at the turnstiles.
Even if a repeat of that staggering 6-4 victory for PNE in their last visit to Leeds five years ago was served up, it would still not justify such a high outlay.
Forget it being just five days before Christmas, it would be too expensive in the middle of August or end of April.
It seems that some PNE fans are not taking the high cost laying down.
They are not going, simple as that. Instead they will find better value for their cash.
Some are considering a trip to Bamber Bridge to watch Neil Crowe’s men take on Radcliffe Borough at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium.
Awaiting them there is football for a fiver, a homely bar and importantly, a warm feeling that Leeds are not ripping them off.
Others will keep the wallet shut to allow it to be spent on other things, Christmas being the expensive time it is.
There will still be Preston supporters inside Elland Road and so there should.
It is a personal choice whether to attend or not and there are fans who haven’t missed a game for years and do not intend doing so.
I am in the fortunate position of being paid to watch football.
There are times when I moan for England about being freezing or having a dodgy wi-fi connection, or for that matter coming within an ace of being locked in for the night at Hartlepool’s ground.
But it is not a bad way to earn a living and for me to lean one way or another in the ‘should I stay or go to Elland Road’ debate, would be hypocritical.
What I will say is £37 or £42 is ridiculously high to watch Championship football.
You could find cheaper in the Premier League, although some of the games I see on Match of the Day would give me second thoughts about paying such an amount.
I don’t agree with some folk who have said that as Preston fans are being charged £37, then Leeds supporters should be asked to part with the same cash at Deepdale in May.
Tit-for-tat is not the right route to go down.
This is not a Leeds and Preston issue, it is one which runs much wider in football.
Somehow, the cost of tickets has to be brought down, but it is a tricky one.
There is the ‘Twenty is Plenty’ campaign which wants a £20 cap put on the price of an away match ticket – I see that as a sensible approach and has much merit in it.
The problem in this country is how wealth is distributed within football.
Between the Premier League and Football League, a huge financial gulf exists.
It will only get wider with the new television deal which kicks in next season.
In the Premier League, cash taken from ticket sales is not the main revenue source for many clubs – TV money is.
They are probably more in a position to implement a cap on ticket prices than their Football League counterparts.
Although clubs in the Championship, League One and League Two get solidarity payments from the top flight, it is a drop in the ocean when compared with the money swilling inside the Premier League coffers.
In the Football League, gate money is crucial. A run of postponements for clubs in Leagues One and Two during a harsh winter – meaning no revenue coming in – can lead to serious financial hardship.
While the ‘higher you go, the greater the reward’ way of doing things is right in any sport, there does need to be a better distribution of funds.
The PNE away following will certainly be much greater at Fulham today than it is for the Leeds trip.
Craven Cottage can expect to host 2,000 Prestonians this afternoon, that the highest support on the road for North End this season.
Ricky Heppolette, Nigel Jemson, Neil Trebble and Michael Appleton have been scoring heroes in 1-0 wins for PNE down the years at Fulham. If someone could add their name to that list come 4.50pm, it will make for a good afternoon.