Planning this year’s Gentry Day has not been the smoothest of things, with more than a couple of bumps in the road along the way.
Choosing where to have Preston North End’s annual unique act of remembrance in the first place, created its own problems.
Once Bolton Wanderers was voted for as the venue, a large obstacle, in the shape of £35 tickets, was dumped in the way.
That appears to be have been clambered over for now, North End hearing what their fans had to say and taking those concerns to the Wanderers hierarchy.
The whys and wherefores of Bolton being chosen for Gentry Day is going over old ground and need not take up much more of our time.
But the pricing issues which arose this week is a topic which requires more scrutiny, not just in the context of Preston’s trip down the M61 to Horwich but in football in general.
Initially, North End fans were being asked to cough up £35 for an adult ticket in the upper tier of Bolton’s away stand.
Not until upstairs was full would £30 seats in the lower tier be released for sale.
After a great deal of anger was aired on social media, a semblance of common sense prevailed on Thursday when Bolton amended things slightly.
Downstairs would go on sale first at £30 a seat – if and when the 2,400 are sold, more talks are planned about the pricing for the upper tier.
It was a compromise and at least buys some time for more common ground to be found.
Had the £35 price stuck, I’m sure we would have been looking at a vastly reduced away following.
Even at £30, it could be a struggle to match the 4,400 following which turned out for Gentry Day at the same ground two years ago.
It would probably have been too late in the day to go for an alternative venue, bearing in mind the divide which arose before Bolton got the nod.
And you’ve got to ask the question of whether it would have been cheaper to move elsewhere?
With North End putting on bus travel to the Macron Stadium for £5, that reduces fans’ transport costs.
Queens Park Rangers was second choice in the poll, with London and Gentry Day having always been good bedfellows.
But at this late stage, cheap train deals would have gone and Loftus Road can be on the expensive side.
Sunderland is £30 a throw for a ticket, plus transport, so wouldn’t have been any cheaper than Bolton.
What we have learned from this saga is that at many Championship grounds, it is too expensive.
But here we enter a rather vicious circle of wanting value for money at the turnstile as well as wanting to see your club splash the cash on the best players possible.
For Football League clubs, cash taken at the ticket office forms a huge slice of their income.
The television deal in the EFL is modest to say the least.
In the Championship, it is £100,000 a game for the home team and £10,000 for the away side.
There is the solidarity payment of around £6.5m a club from the Premier League, which sounds a lot but probably doesn’t go as far as it might.
The Premier League’s TV deals at home and abroad dwarf anything which comes in through ticket sales.
Money taken at the ticket office is small change when compared to what clubs in the top flight get from their television paymasters, hence why a £30 cap can be put on tickets for away supporters in the Premier League.
If more cash was to filter down from the top flight into the EFL – a fairer share – that would allow clubs to be far less reliant on revenue raised from ticket sales.
Funding a promotion push isn’t cheap, more and more pressure now on club owners to fund them.
Taking all this back to events of the last few days, £35 to watch Championship football from behind the goal is still too much.
Judging by what I have read on Twitter I would say that a lot of folk are at their limit at £30, it might be the cheap bus travel which tips more into going to Bolton on March 3 than not.
I just hope that once we get to Gentry Day, the spirit of the event is recognised and all that has gone before doesn’t cloud it.
This is a PNE fans’ event, not done anywhere else, and one which has been staged very well for many years.
Occasionally, it has not quite gone to plan but that has been down more to events on the pitch – 2012 at Sheffield Wednesday when Graham Westley was at the helm, springs to mind.
Planning-wise though, this is probably the first time where there had been some discord with where to have it.
Is it any coincidence that this is the first time when the Preston Supporters’ Group (PSG) haven’t had an input?
Sometimes you don’t know what you are missing until it’s gone.
I honestly think that in the future, it would be better to have a committee system in place to organise Gentry Day.
It worked well from 2008 through to 2017, complaints about venue and dates few and far between.