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Lee Dixon: Time for clubs to see sense on ticket prices

A vision of the future?

"Fans are still the lifeblood of the game at a domestic level and with incomes stagnating or even decreasing among ordinary working people it will leave a very sour taste should ticket prices continue to rise."

Manchester City fans have baulked at ticket prices for Sunday's game at Arsenal, and at £62 a pop, Lee Dixon sympathises...

I read with interest a report earlier this week that Manchester City fans returned more than 900 tickets for Sunday's big game at Arsenal in protest at the staggering ticket prices

The travelling support are being asked to fork out £62 for a seat at this 4pm kick-off, which will be televised live on Sky Sports. They will have to travel to London, too, and of course purchase refreshments during the day. Fan will be doing very well to avoid spending less than £100. 

Could this be a watershed moment for the game? 

First things first, let's be fair: this is a problem through the game and it's not just confined to Arsenal. I have talked to fans of all clubs who simply don't have the money to go to the game these days. People who, a generation or two ago would get to the game, now support from the sofa or at the pub, provided they can afford the price of a pint or two these days! 

Simple economics means that a lot of working class people are missing out as they just cannot afford to go anymore and it does change the atmosphere. There's no doubt about that.  

And it's the clubs who have put themselves in this position. Wages have spiralled throughout the game - with some notorious teams overheating the market to unbelievable levels - and that money has to come from somewhere. Yes, television income is one part of it, but gate money is still very significant. It's simply how clubs survive in the ultra-competitive game of football these days. 

Will we reach a tipping point? I do think the clubs take protests into consideration but their main focus will always be making ends meet. Don't forget that even with ticket prices as high as they are, Arsenal are still filling the ground for most games. 

But it must have an effect in the boardroom eventually. They'd be mad to turn a blind eye. Fans are still the lifeblood of the game at a domestic level and with incomes stagnating or even decreasing among ordinary working people it will leave a very sour taste should ticket prices continue to rise. 

I think clubs are right on the edge here. If they forget the fans there is a real danger the game could fall into the abyss.

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11 January 2013

Premier League

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