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My Imaginary Friend - Wanna Season ticket?


JohnCresswell
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Posted by Blandy

Sparked by a debate on the message board about season ticket benefits, I thought I'd write down a few thoughts.

There's lots of different angles to look at season tickets from.

They divide into 3 groups - things the club wants, things the fans want, and things both want.

Things we both want are fairly easy - a full and vibrant Villa park for every game, having fans go in the areas of the ground that suit them best - corporate and business types in the Trinity centre, families in a child friendly area, noisy beer monsters behind the goal(s) in the Holte and maybe Witton end and so on.

Things the club wants - Up front revenue, happy fans (less customer complaints, more customer satisfaction), the optimal return on sales - it's a curve of some kind, where if they are "too cheap" they'll sell loads, but be down on revenue, yet if they are too expensive they will sell few, and be down on revenue again. They basically have to be priced just right.

Things the fans want - Value for money. Assured seat - sit with friends/family in a place of your choice, access to "first dibs" on other tickets (away games, cup matches etc). Ability to get extra tickets for friends/relatives

Pretty much all of the other things (some) fans want may actually not be deal clinchers.

For example - programmes, discount in the shop, C&B mag, etc. could be made available seperately to all who want them via some other scheme - a membership or some such. Fans could then choose whether to be a season ticket holder, a matchday fan, or one of these plus a scheme member. I'd include away tickets in this but suspect the numbers of tickets available make it essentially a season ticket holder only thing.

The lists are by no means exhaustive, they're just some examples.

In terms of incentive to sell/buy tickets, there's one huge factor above all others: The Team.

There will always be a large number of fans who want to demonstrate loyalty regardless of the quality of the side, simply because they are Villa fans, and that' what they do. BUT this can't be taken for granted (I don't believe it is, by the way).

Nevertheless clubs with excellent teams and squads and managers sell more tickets. It's undoubtedly the hardest part to get right and sustain for a period , but if they do then I genuinely believe that Villa like many other Clubs could fill the ground consistently.

There seems to be a lag in ticket sales and attendances of a season. So if a club has a good season, then the next season will see gates go up, even if they struggle in that next season. And vice versa. The reason for this is "hope".

Once you can turn hope into reasonable expectation, or high expectation (that if you go to the match you will see your team win) then you've got to a point where you are maximising the benefit from the Team as a sales tool.

Because Villa has been up and down between top 8 and bottom 8, we've never really built up much hope, let alone expectation.

We need to get to consistent top 6 level and still be pushing on to get the ground full. Not one season then finishing 10th the next year, but several seasons of upwards progress.

I've wandered away from the point of the original post. So while I've done so I'll go back to one of my bugbears and just point out something on ticket prices.

The sheff U away game cost 15 quid and sold out the entire gound despite monday night telly. Brilliant!

Wigan and Blackburn have done similar and seen much improved gates. Charlton do something similar too, and have been for a while, for some games.

Yesterday Man City Fans boycotted their game at Bolton (as they did at Wigan) because of what they (rightly) saw as excessive greed or exploitation by the home club in charging nearly 40 quid for tickets for away fans, partly no doubt based on the games being local derbies and City having a large following.

We've seen small heath do the same to us (and Man U) a year or three back charging nearly 50 quid for tickets.

Next season, TV money will be 65% higher for the clubs. They simply HAVE to set reasonable ticket prices, or the grounds, many of them will be half full. And no one wants that. Not the clubs, not fans and not TV.

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Peter - a very useful debate, we obviously need the maximum attendance at every game, not just the few.

VP will always be full for games against the Prem's Top4 Clubs. But with the much increased Premiership funding next year, it should be possible for Villa to discount all other games shown on SKY, in order to ensure maximum attendances. A 50% reduction off all tickets for these games should achieve the desired results ( I would also pass the same benefits on to STH's with a cash "credit" against future ticket purchases, so that everyone is treated equally).

I feel that the 5 or 6 games every season, against poorer opposition, televised or not, should also qualify for this substantial reduction. Needless to say, these reductions could be phased out over time, whem we start to enjoy more competitive success. Ticket price is the most effective method, in the short-term for increasing attendance; plus of course more "pro-active sales and marketing" (when was the last time that anyone received an email or phone call to "take a friend"?)

I also believe there are more imaginative options to cultivate and bring in more junior support every week.

In fact, I am quite disappointed with the new regime's commercial sales performance this season. I was expecting more and bolder ideas from B6 after Ellis had departed.

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In fact, I am quite disappointed with the new regime's commercial sales performance this season. I was expecting more and bolder ideas from B6 after Ellis had departed.

Let's be fair, the new CEO has only been in place for 2 weeks.

Since the season began, we have had far more offers etc. than we have ever had before.

I know you wanted a supporter run club and invested a lot of time and effort into reseach etc. villacross but it's time to get behind the good work being done by the new owners and the business team that they have recently instated.

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...But with the much increased Premiership funding next year, it should be possible for Villa to discount all other games shown on SKY, in order to ensure maximum attendances. A 50% reduction off all tickets for these games should achieve the desired results ( I would also pass the same benefits on to STH's with a cash "credit" against future ticket purchases, so that everyone is treated equally).

I feel that the 5 or 6 games every season, against poorer opposition, televised or not, should also qualify for this substantial reduction. Needless to say, these reductions could be phased out over time, whem we start to enjoy more competitive success.

Yes and no. Why give a "credit" for the future. Why not build it in to the current price at the start of the season. I feel "credit" tomorrow will not be an incentive compared to "well I'll just pay game by game at lower prices"

Ticket price is the most effective method, in the short-term for increasing attendance; plus of course more "pro-active sales and marketing" (when was the last time that anyone received an email or phone call to "take a friend"?)

I also believe there are more imaginative options to cultivate and bring in more junior support every week.

In fact, I am quite disappointed with the new regime's commercial sales performance this season. I was expecting more and bolder ideas from B6 after Ellis had departed.

The club has been sending out marketing e mails - season ticket holders got one for example for the Watford game. Ex-season ticket holders were sent tickets for free for Blackburn and Bolton (I think it was) Most remained unused according to the club.

I personally am not concerned by commercial progress at the club. I'm also not concerned with the ticket office people. They've always been pretty good, IMO. Problems in the past have mostly been caused by people "higher up". Now I feel there's more freedom, perhaps for people to get on with their jobs, to take decisions and they've been getting them right. They deserve a pat on the back.

One of the points of my post was to see what people think about the debate in terms of one step more than what is currently the "established" thinking - from I "I buy/don't buy a season ticket because" to " No, I don't agree with you on pricing, or seperating out the wheat from the chaff" or "yes, I agree too" or "this is a better idea"

I'm just convinced that pricing has to change not just at Villa but elsewhere. Higher prices would be suicidal, just keeping them the same would be the timid, easy, option, but in the end, they'll come down. Might as well create a huge lot of goodwill and get ahead of the game, rather than following the pack.

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I'm not interested in offers or cheap ticket pricing that has no impact. I want to see a vibrant VP full to capacity for every home game. Winning a few games would be a bonus at present and without doubt, increased support at VP would help enormously. Increasing match attendance is a straightforward sales promotion exercise, as I said previously conditional essentially by price and sales effort. This is not a task for a CEO, but is one for an expert specialist. Lerner must surely know this. The Villa ticket-office staff are very nice and polite but couldn't sell ice cream at Clacton in a heat wave.

Regarding your suggestion that I should get behind the good work being done by Lerner & Co - the "jury is still out on that". I will reserve judgement to see whether we start making positive progress towards being a Top4 Club again within the next few years.

You should know my views over what needs to be spent on team building (a 50% uplift in wages and £20mill on new player acquisitions for 5 years minimum), so it will be very interesting to see what real progress is made with respect to this within the next six months or so.

At present I feel that the reality of how far we are behind the Top4 Clubs has either not yet sunk in; or maybe it has. Hence the reason for all the "hype" over the refurbs for the Holte and the local rail station, in order to divert attention away from the important issues.

I will not be at all surprised for Lerner to exit within the next 2-3 years when the real size of the problem is clear. I sincerely hope I am mistaken and along with the many thousands of other fans, I yearn for the new management to be successful and take us back to the top again. But in either event, AV will continue to have my 100% support. That will never change.

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