Dave Seddon's PNE Press View
The launch of Preston North End's season ticket prices was always going to attract plenty of debate.
At a fans’ forum held at Deepdale last month, it was a topic which supporters were keen to fire questions at the top table hierarchy about.
The answers lent towards an emphasis on attracting more youngsters to Deepdale and a few weeks on, we got confirmation of that policy.
Any attempt to get more young supporters on board has to be applauded.
They are the future, the base from which to grow the fanbase.
There will be free season tickets for Under-11s, North End having been offering them to Under-8s for many years.
It covers all primary school-age children, this an opportunity to get them regularly to Deepdale and then to keep their interest.
Many a time over the years I have heard people say, ‘Get the kids involved and others will come’, hopefully this will ring true.
For those not tempted by a season ticket, it is £2 entry on the day in all three stands and £1 in the family area of the Sir Tom Finney family zone for Under-11s.
The junior discount for those aged between 11 and 18 is very good – a £125 season ticket works out about £5.40 a game – even better in the Finney family zone where the price drops to £80.
There are concessionary rates for 19 to 21 and then for those 22 to 24-year-olds who are studying full-time or are apprentices.
With UCLan based in the city, there is a vast student market to tap into.
North End need to shout about the discounts from the rooftops.
Society seems to be at a point where people need a signpost to most things.
They need telling, they need reminding, they need to be encouraged.
Being able to get your kids a free season ticket for a club on the doorstep is something to boast about.
Make sure every primary school in the city and the surrounding area gets a poster or leaflets, so too junior football clubs – there are plenty of those in a thriving local football scene.
I’m told there will be a big social media push by North End, that a big part of many people’s lives these days.
I realise that this summer’s push for bigger attendances is very much younger person driven.
There have been remarks that there is nothing to tempt back lapsed fans or those who pick and choose games, beyond the discount ages.
Indeed that is the case and maybe you should look on this summer as being a starting point, one thing at a time almost?
North End have made it clear that they won’t be tempted to go down the wholesale discount route that Huddersfield have done.
So it might be a case of growing the support from the younger age groups first and working from there?
If the kids are going free, mum or dad will be getting a ticket to accompany them.
Pricing in football is always going to be a thorny issue, that is something I have written in this column before.
Outside of the Premier League, revenue through the ticket office is the bedrock of a club.
The broadcast deals which the Premier League clubs have in place here and overseas, make ticket money almost seem like loose change which has fallen down the back of the sofa.
Although Football League clubs get annual solidarity payments from the top flight, ticket sales form a major part of their income stream from which transfer fees and wages have to come.
Premier League clubs get around £600,000 per game when they are shown live on television – whether they are home or away.
In the Championship, it is £100,000 for the home team and just £10,000 for the away side – that figure drops in Leagues One and Two.
Liverpool’s clash with Middlesbrough on Sunday will be the 29th time they have been shown live in the Premier League this season.
Just think of the revenue game-to-game on top of all the other payments which top flight clubs get.
No wonder there is that almighty desire for clubs in the Championship to get their moment in the Premier League sun.
It is getting there which is the difficult part and clubs try it in different ways in terms of financing it. Hence we come back to different models of growing support and bringing money in.
Meanwhile, the decision of the FA to stamp down on diving is a welcome one.
From next season, players who have deceived a referee by simulation – leading to a penalty or an opposition player being sent off – can be punished retrospectively.
If the offence is proved, it would be punished by a two-game suspension.
Football has been crying out for this for many seasons, with players tumbling like they have been shot by a sniper.
There are blatant dives where no contact is made, while something we have seen more of is players looking for contact in the box – sticking out their trailing leg in the hope an opposition defender catches it.
The FA’s new rule is a step in the right direction.