Industry News

Tottenham at risk of empty seats with hikes

Tottenham Hotspur has been criticised by fans and former and current football stars after announcing its decision to hike season tickets at its new stadium.

Former Tottenham and England striker Gary Lineker and Manchester City and Belgium defender Vincent Kompany highlighted the need to fill stadiums as more empty seats plague English football. Kompany recently completed a Master’s degree at Manchester University’s Alliance Manchester Business School with a dissertation that focussed on the positive effect that cutting ticket prices could have on a club’s performance.

The dearest ticket at the Premier League club’s new stadium, which is to open in time for the 2018-19 season, is priced at £1,995. That price is an increase of £295 from the current highest offering at Wembley Stadium, the club’s temporary home for 2017-18. The least expensive passes are £795, which is just £30 more than the cheapest seat at White Hart Lane.

Some 42,000 seats will be reserved for season ticket holders at the 62,000-capacity stadium, which is double the figure at White Hart Lane, the club’s former ground.

However, Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust (THST) released a statement warning the club that many fans would not be able to afford to retain their seat.

“Some fans are facing increases of 25, 40 or 50 per cent in their usual seating areas which, even taking into account the improved facilities, will be beyond many, whether they are longstanding season ticket holders or whether they signed up for the first time for the year at Wembley,” the statement reads.

“The vast majority of fans go to football for the football, not for the facilities. There are 15 different price points, an over complex system that allows attractive headline claims to be made but which mask the price rises many will now face. Fans are genuinely worried about the availability of tickets at prices they can afford in the later priority windows.

“The club believes it will fill the stadium with this pricing policy. That may well be the case in our first season with a successful, entertaining team but the novelty may wear off after the first season, particularly if performance on the pitch falls short.

“With fans already contacting us saying they are priced out, we cannot view this as anything other than a missed opportunity.”

Lineker took to Twitter to express his disappointment at the announcement, and warned his former club that without full stadiums, interest in the game would decrease.

He said: “We’re seeing more and more empty seats at grounds. Given the vast sums received from TV rights, ticket prices should be falling not rising. The game needs full stadiums otherwise its appeal will slowly decline, even to rights holders. Avarice will only damage the game and clubs.”

Kompany published a series of tweets explaining why full stadiums are so important to professional players.

“Less empty seats leads to a better TV product (money) but also better atmosphere, which in turn affects testosterone levels and territorial behaviour in players, therefore increasing home advantage. There’s financial value in every added league point too,” Kompany said.

“The PL is unique, financially dominant and global. I imagine that a general decline in stadium atmosphere can damage the value of that product. Link to ticket pricing, seating location and safe standing is almost inevitable. Long-term gains vs short-term profits, eternal dilemma.”

Image: Tottenham Hotspur