What could ignite opinion more surely than a change to the cost of going to watch Hull City? A name change perhaps…but we’re struggling after that point.
It’s therefore courageous, in the Sir Humphrey Appleby sense of the word, of City to make sizeable changes to their prices and method of entry.
They’ve taken the form of tickets, booklets and latterly swipe-cards – but the season ticket is to be no more. Instead, it’s all memberships. You buy a membership. Three levels exist: “One Stripe”, “Two Stripe” and the very adidasy-sounding “Three Stripe”.
The exact benefits of these are yet to be explained, which strikes us as a missed opportunity. Why set out the tiers without outlining what each incorporates?
Nonetheless, the basic price of a membership including access to every home game is clearly outlined – and the most notable feature is that prices are no longer set by age, but by which area of the stadium your seat is in. Everyone pays the same in their chosen zone. And you pay monthly, throughout the year, not the season.
Whether that works out at more or less expense depends on circumstance. Adults can now pay as little £21 a month…but only if you are prepared to sit in certain areas of the stadium, none of which are down the side. But if you aren’t too fussed about your location, a full season of football could now be just £252 for a full-paying adult. That’s half the current price. So far, so good.
What’s the catch?
Well, you may have to move. Most other areas of the ground cost more than £21pm, rising up to prices comparable to this season’s. And those huge discounts apply only to full paying adults. And there’s a little asterisk besides the club’s advertising image stating that “qualifying conditions apply” – this too is not expanded upon.
If you’re a child (or more likely, paying for a child), or a young adult, or a senior citizen, take a deep breath. Your concessions have gone. We’re all paying the same price now. And for kids, that price is rising steeply.
Do I have to move?
Maybe. You can stay in your current seat and pay more than others will be. Unless you sit in the Upper West Stand, which is now being closed on a matchday to “improve the atmosphere”.
Oh, and if you’re a single adult in the South Stand, you’re also being evicted to make way for an enlargement of the family area.
Adults who are willing to move could make huge savings. Not a freeze, nor a modest saving, but a potential halving of the cost of football.
Kids. People who pay for kids. Teenagers. Seniors. And full paying adults who don’t/can’t, for whatever reason, move to a different part of the stadium. Anyone in the West Upper or South who doesn’t want to move but is being forced to.
How did we arrive at this?
City say this scheme has been years in the making, and indeed it’s an idea we dimly recall being pitched to Adam Pearson when he was in charge of the club.
It’s been said that the club are unhappy with the proportion of adults who use concessionary tickets to gain discounted access to which they aren’t entitled. If so, removing kids’ discounts strikes us as using an elephant gun to tackle a mosquito.
A few weeks ago, at the most recent Fans’ Working Group meeting, those present had an outline of the scheme shown to them, though only after signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). Yes, really. The club were very anxious not to have any details revealed. Now, this NDA was made out to “Hull City Tigers”, and as a quick scan of the league table shows no such club we didn’t really feel entirely bound by it, but as courteous guests we naturally abided by it.
The club also asked for feedback based upon a presentation, and invited us to submit further observations and constructive criticism via e-mail. Kids prices were raised by others at the time, though a firm response to this was skipped over. Perhaps this ought to have alerted us that something was amiss.
We strongly advised against compelling people to move. The upper west stand isn’t our cup of Darjeeling, but its patrons deserve better than summary eviction from a seat they may have had for over a decade. It can only generate ill will. Unfortunately this recommendation hasn’t been acted upon.
We thought then, as now, that this is a scheme with some merit. Discounting adult prices is a very welcome move, even if it entails the possible aggravation of moving. A few weeks ago, we offered qualified support, pointing out that several improvements had to be made before it represented the major improvement the club is keen advertise but appreciating that this is something worthy of consideration and capable of offering genuine benefits. We like the principle and we recognise the potential. But…
It is not tenable to price out kids and families in this way, and could cause immense long-term damage to the club. We remember the dog days of the 1990s, when City’s prospects were so bleak an entire generation of kids grew up wearing other team’s shirts. Repairing that damage and making the club attractive to kids took many, many years. We’re risking the same situation again.
Please, City, have another think.