COMMUNICATIONS director Sophie McGill has defended York City’s costing policy after a study revealed that fans of only four other League Two clubs pay more for their football.
That was the conclusion of BBC’s Price of Football study, whose findings were released this week.
Bootham Crescent regulars, who have bought the club’s cheapest adult season-ticket, will typically spend £500.70 at home games this term – an outlay that also assumes the average spectator will buy a replica shirt, along with a cup of tea, pie and a programme at every fixture.
That figure means City trail just Mansfield (£554), Plymouth (£533.99), Notts County (£529.80) and Crawley (£502.50) as the most expensive clubs to follow in the Football League’s lowest echelon.
But McGill reasoned that the analysis did not take into account the club’s £50 under-12 season ticket offer or the ongoing battle to make professional football sustainable at an ageing stadium with limited commercial opportunities.
The City board member said: “The BBC’s Price of Football Study shows how challenging it is for York City to strike a balance between offering good value to our fans and being able to survive and produce a football team to compete in League Two. Prices at York City are not set in order to make a profit, they are implemented to give the football club the best chance of breaking even to ensure the club’s continuation.
“Unlike many other teams in the Football League and Premier League, due to our antiquated facilities at Bootham Crescent, we have very little opportunity to generate income from sources other than gate receipts and match day activities and this is why our prices have to be carefully monitored.
“In terms of ticket pricing, the areas we choose to focus on to offer best possible value are season tickets for our young supporters. We continue to offer season tickets for under-12s for only £50, which equates to £2.17 per match.
“We feel that is fantastic value and helps to encourage the next generation of York City fans. We are also very proud of the positive work we do in the community, with the club donating over 2,500 complimentary match tickets each season to local school children, community groups and charitable causes.”
In League Two, struggling Dagenham & Redbridge come in cheapest with fans spending £391.60 each season on the criteria listed above.
Perhaps, surprisingly, former Premier League fallen giants and 2008 FA Cup winners Portsmouth rank as low as ninth in the list but, with an average attendance of more than 16,000, can probably afford to lower their charges.
The Minstermen currently sell the third-most costly shirt in League Two, meanwhile, with a price of £44 only beaten by Barnet (£49.99) and Wimbledon (£45).
They are on sale at Premier League new boys Bournemouth for £40.
City’s junior shirt also retails at £36 which is the second-highest amount after today’s hosts at the Hive, while young fans of top-flight Norwich can wear their club’s colours for £28.
At £1.80, there are just three grounds where you will shell out more for a cuppa than at Bootham Crescent with Northampton’s Sixfields asking an exorbitant £2.10 when reigning Premier League champions Chelsea will sell you a brew for £1.
City fare a little better on value for money for their pies but a cost of £3.10 is only more reasonable than four other venues with Luton’s Kenilworth Road the highest priced at £3.50.
The figures for Barnet and Wimbledon, meanwhile, are based on the average cost of a burger with pies off the menu at both clubs.
Bootham Crescent is attractively priced, however, for occasional visitors and opposition supporters.
City’s most expensive match ticket of £21 is the fifth lowest in the division and can only be bettered by a pound elsewhere.
The corresponding figure for away fans of £19 is the second-cheapest behind Mansfield’s Field Mill, where visitors are charged £18.
There are 14 clubs who have cheaper season tickets than the Minstermen’s lowest-priced offering of £275, while Championship Reading (£135) and City’s League One Yorkshire neighbours Bradford (£149) are bucking the trend in higher divisions.
The Bantams have been rewarded with a massive 35.7 per cent upsurge in their crowds this season while Reading have witnessed a 5.9 per cent improvement, which is the fifth-highest increase in the Championship with three of the clubs above them promoted from League One.
German clubs also continue to put their counterparts to shame on these shores with Bayern Munich’s cheapest season ticket of £104.48 representing less than any outfit in English football’s top four divisions.
League Two’s Costliest Clubs
(The price of following each team based on the cheapest adult season ticket, an adult replica shirt and buying a pie, cup of tea and programme at every home game)
1 Mansfield Town £554
2 Plymouth Argyle £543.99
3 Notts County £529.80
4 Crawley Town £502.50
5 YORK CITY £500.70
6 Yeovil £493
7 Cambridge United £489.50
8 Carlisle United £485.30
9 Portsmouth £482.59
10 Luton Town £480.90
11 Exeter City £479.30
12 Hartlepool United £478
13 Northampton Town £477.59
14 AFC Wimbledon £477.50
15 Bristol Rovers £472.49
16 Stevenage £468.49
17 Barnet £466.70
18 Newport County £462.30
19 Oxford United £460.69
20 Morecambe £440.70
21 Wycombe £437.80
22 Leyton Orient £391.90
23 Accrington Stanley £398.69
24 Dagenham £391.60