Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Conclusions (or not) from Birmingham City


Leicester City3-1Birmingham City
(HT 1-1)
Beckford 34, 90
Schlupp 80
Elliott pen 20

King Power Stadium, attendance: 21,092
BBC Match Report



Unfortunately this entry comes without Conclusions or indeed Winners or Losers. This is because the football club took away my opportunity to watch the game after I had already arrived at the King Power Stadium, buying tat in the club shop in anticipation of a return to form. Because I did not attend the game - but was at the stadium - I had no way of seeing or accessing coverage of the match (FoxesPlayer still doesn't enable streaming on mobile devices!).

My brother, owed a game on his season ticket - a fair system that we have used a number of times before this season - approached ticket office staff to move his seat and claim an adjacent, 'free' ticket (which he has paid for as part of his season ticket price) only to be told by staff, "Sorry, we don't do that". A full transcript follows:

Harry N: Why not?
Office Staff: You can only do it for 'gold'.
HN: What do you mean?
OS: You can only do it for 'gold'. Not 'platinum'.
HN: But I missed the game against Middlesbrough, I'm owed a ticket, I've done it before.
OS: Only for 'gold'.
HN: So how much is it then?
OS: A ticket for where you're sat is thirty pounds.
HN: No, but upgrading my free ticket...
OS: You can't do that for 'platinum' games. You have to buy an extra ticket.
HN: So what's the cheapest?
OS: In the corner. Twenty-five quid.
HN: But I can't use my free game?
OS: No.
HN: Well I'm not paying that. It's ridiculous. Can I leave my ticket with you then? I'll have two free for next time.
Me: It's ok, you go...
HN: No, I'm not just going to leave you on your own, am I?
OS: *asks supervisor for assistance* So you're not going tonight then?
HN: Not on my own, no.
OS: *inaudible*

Ultimately, the club lost out. They'd have earned back their £25 ticket by letting us in - we were planning on buying a couple of pints and a pie each in the ground - but instead lost our custom and, ultimately, our faith in the club. The result against Birmingham was a great one and, having seen the highlights on the news, it seems we deserved our victory. But, for us, it feels hollow and we are no longer sure that we want to put our money, faith and passion into a club that cares so little for its fans that it would rather send them home than see them in the ground, supporting their team.

What is most striking about the conversation my brother had with the ticket office staff is that, once it was clear we would rather walk home than pay such an inflated price, no consolatory offer was made to us. No apology was received, either, we were simply shunned.

We are loyal supporters, not of the Fosse Boys brigade, but honest folk who live beyond our means to attend expensive matches when we can, buy the overpriced shirt, pay inflated rail fares to visit away grounds  and, heck, spend our free time blogging about the club. We do all of that not because it fills the time but because it matters.

But maybe, if the fans don't matter to the club - if we are just cash cows to be milked for our earnings and then chucked aside - the club should not matter to us.

Perhaps LCFC should take stock of what it means to be a football club. Just twenty-one thousand people watched a brilliant victory last night. A fairer ticketing price structure and more flexibility would have seen a whole lot more fans celebrating - and two fewer fans left out in the cold.

My brother and I enjoyed an excellent steak night at JD Wetherspoon's High Cross pub in the city centre. Credit must be given to the excellent staff there who not only know a thing or two about customer service but also provided superb food and a very decent pint or two of Grainstore 1850.
Post a Comment