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Roker Roundtable: Should twenty be plenty for Sunderland?

As football fans continue to feel the squeeze, the club are yet to commit to a scheme that would see away ticket prices capped on a reciprocal basis. Is it something we should be on board with?

Photo by Jeff Holmes/PA Images via Getty Images

Mitch Marshall says…

During a cost of living crisis, football should be a welcome, affordable distraction for us all. However, during my time supporting Sunderland, this has very rarely been the case.

The sight of Bristol City charging upwards of £30 for a ticket for a place in the away end at Ashton Gate for our visit on 6th August is simply the latest in a long line of clubs milking our super-dedicated support for all we are worth, and more.

Given that this has been such a long-standing complaint among our fan base, it is all the more surprising that the club have yet to sign up to the ‘Twenty Is Plenty’ pledge.

Reading, for example, have already endorsed the Football Supporters’ Association campaign to cap away ticket prices at £20 (£15 for concessions), agreeing to the cap if other Championship clubs make a reciprocal arrangement to charge Reading’s away supporters the same amount.

I find it hard to believe that the reason for our reluctance to do the same is that Sunderland as a club desperately need the extra revenue that charging other teams’ fans more than £20 for a ticket might bring.

Making football more affordable for everyone can only benefit the game as a whole, as it will attract more paying fans through gates, and especially young supporters who will ensure the game remains in good health going forward.

During our four years in League One, Sunderland fans backed the team at home and away in unprecedented numbers. It is only right that the club repay that loyalty by adhering to this scheme, saving our fans from exploitation by other clubs, and safeguarding the matchday experience from the economic challenges Britain is facing right now.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Michael Dunne says…

On the one hand, it is hard to comprehend that football clubs can justify doing this to fans at a time where life in general is barely manageable and when people from all sectors and backgrounds are struggling to make ends meet.

On the other hand, it is entirely predictable and in line with the general greed and ignorance that football clubs demonstrate to fans.

I am actually travelling over from Ireland for the Bristol game, but I had committed to attending before the ticket prices were released. Indeed, I think I would have thought twice, had I known how much they were going to be.

The issue is that clubs will continue to charge the prices if they think fans will pay it.

When it comes to our club, it is well-known that our fans do all they can to support their team up and down the country. We know this, and Bristol City know it too. We are a loyal bunch and it’s the dilemma our fans face.

I would agree that the ‘Twenty Is Plenty’ campaign is a great idea, but I have serious doubts about whether it will gain genuine momentum. The only thing that I feel will make clubs think twice is if fans begin to protest and refuse to attend matches. It shouldn’t come to that, but we may have no choice.

Bristol City U23 v Coventry City U23 - Professional Development League Two - Play Off - Final - Ashton Gate Photo by Simon Galloway/PA Images via Getty Images

Kelvin Beattie says…

I welcome the idea of ‘Twenty Is Plenty’ and I am disappointed that we have not led the way with this initiative, let alone signed up to it. With upwards of 35,000 fans just about guaranteed at our home games, surely there was room for this gesture?

The benefits of making football affordable for all, in the face of a cost of living crisis like no other most of us will have experienced in our lifetimes can surely not be lost on our owners?

Of course, many will argue that this scheme is inconsequential and that we should be looking to generate income by any and all means possible in order to secure the future of the club and fund new signings, etc.

A gesture it may be, but it could be just one of a tranche of measures and initiatives that could bring about a much more responsible and fairer economic model, not just within our club, but the game itself. When you consider the increase in dependency on food banks in the UK, and contrast that with the salaries being paid top sports professionals, it is both stark and cruel.

The sums being paid to those golfers signing up to the LIV Tour, for example, have been particularly galling at this time of financial hardship for many around the globe, whole the monthly salaries of many ordinary footballers, let alone those in the ‘superstar’ category dwarf the average family’s income by some margin.

So come on, Sunderland. Make a small difference, become part of the solution rather than the problem and sign up to this initiative. Who knows? It could be the start of a collective state of evolution as we move forward.

Dundee United v Sunderland - Pre Season Friendly Photo by Paul Devlin/SNS Group via Getty Images

Andrew Smithson says…

Seeing ticket prices increase when Sunderland are in town is nothing new, but that doesnt make it any easier to take.

Often, the need for increased staffing and safety arrangements as a result of our higher allocations are cited as the reasons for these hikes, but it is hard not to see it more as being just plain and simple profiteering.

When you look at the numbers we took down to Bradford City, it is obvious why some clubs treat our fan base as easy money. This was a low-key, pre-season freindly played amd sky high fuel prices and weather warnings, yet there were still well over 1000 people in the away section on Tuesday night.

Bean counters will take notice of that and will want to cash in, but in doing so they run the risk of pushing people to breaking point. Sunderland fans want to back the Lads as best they can, regardless of form, but everyone has a limit and the game needs to be careful not to price out the true supporters. TV viewers and fairweather fans will come and go, but without strong attendances, football would not the spectacle it currently is.

This is why I would love to see SAFC get on board with the ‘Twenty Is Plenty’ campaign.

Prices at the Stadium of Light for home fans are already excellent, and if would be great for the club to extend that further and become synonymous with espousing good values and trying to protect the game.

I appreciate that football clubs are a business and need to be operated as such, but even from a cynical point of view, there would be merit to price caps - make it easier for more people to buy tickets and you could you end up with better gate receipts and stronger food & drink takings as a result.

In addition, larger crowds could also result in improved advertising revenues, so you’d be looking at a win-win situation. Fans are feeling good about Sunderland’s prospects on the pitch this season, but a bit of positive news off it would not go amiss.

Sunderland v Sheffield Wednesday - Sky Bet League One - Play Off - Semi Final - First Leg - Stadium of Light Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Damian Brown says…

Football is what you pay into it.

I’m always surprised that people complain more about ticket prices than they do the quality of the food and merchandise served to them, which is almost always beyond sub-par and riding easily into diabolical, but they’ll pay upwards of a fiver for bad-quality food and drink, and the matchday you know guarantees your club a constant revenue bothers you more?

I don’t get it. It seems like a festival mentality, whereby you’ve paid for the right to be there and have a seat for the actual exhibition, but you’re fine to get f***ed over when it comes to simple things like getting a decent meal and a cold drink that isn’t blatantly marked up 400%, if you’re lucky.

People stand in queues throughout half-time and miss the start of the second half of the supposed spectacle they willingly gave money to witness and just shrug when some random zero-hours contract lass pours a warm can of Carling into some plastic they have to down before they’ve moved twenty yards back to their seat, but ticket prices for a full ninety minutes watching the team they support is what grates on them?

I can dig that following football should be affordable, but so should everything. Everything should be affordable. It isn’t, and that’s capitalism, and you buy into that twisted mechanism when you pay the money. Why complain about one but not the other?

I’m not trying to support the blatant market-driven capitalism that’s in play here, but I do hope that people at least know they have the freedom to make that choice.

It isn’t like your utilities going up or the price of milk: it’s a simple service you’re told the cost of, and you’re given every freedom to not pay it. Don’t pay it and then say you’ve been ripped off when you already thought it was a rip-off before you paid.

Sunderland v Wycombe Wanderers - Sky Bet League One - Play Off - Final - Wembley Stadium Photo by Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images
Sunderland v Wycombe Wanderers - Sky Bet League One - Play Off - Final - Wembley Stadium Photo by Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images

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