The AFL’s latest idea to try and even up the financial state of clubs has not only left a bitter taste with many clubs, but also that of supporters.
It was revealed that the AFL is looking at the option of increasing ticket prices for premium seating for those attending blockbuster matches. Under the plans, the extra revenue created by higher priced tickets would flow onto the league’s poorest clubs. They are also looking at decreasing prices for games featuring clubs with smaller fan bases.
This could mean those attending ANZAC Day, Carlton vs. Collingwood and even the Derbies and Showdowns would be forced to pay more just because the games attract large crowds.
As expected, Collingwood president Eddie McGuire expressed his disgust at the suggestion with his club and supporters likely to suffer the most. Whilst McGuire has voiced his issues with the idea, it’s the supporters who have voiced the biggest concerns.
Supporters of Essendon, Collingwood, Carlton, Hawthorn, Richmond and Geelong are amongst those who have hit back at the idea.
For them, attending the footy is about watching their teams which may not be possible with the added costs. These clubs are the ones which have the higher membership bases, which means supporters are already spending money on their clubs before the season even starts.
In many situations, they are already paying extra to attend these games than the struggling clubs and now the AFL wants to punish the fans for who they support. Whilst this may even up the financial state of the clubs, it could also result in lower crowd numbers at bigger games.
For a supporter of a bigger club attending a blockbuster, you can’t just turn up on the day and get a seat. You have to pre-book tickets, which doesn’t only take time but includes a booking fee on top of the cost of the tickets.
Even for supporters of teams such as Essendon and Collingwood that attend a game against clubs with lower crowds, they are paying more for seats.
If you want a seat on the bottom level at the MCG at any Bombers or Magpies game, most of the time you have to pre-book or you’ll end up on level four. Many of these supporters have already purchased memberships and they then have to pay more money on top of that. Matches between two of the struggling clubs, you can walk up five minutes before the game and get a premium seat on the bottom level.
The situation at Etihad Stadium isn’t much better for the bigger teams. All Essendon games require reserved seats and if you want a bottom level seat, you have to reserve your tickets two or three weeks in advance. AFL members are unable to get guest passes to any Bombers game at Etihad due to the demand.
Geelong supporters have also expressed their concerns. For the Cats, all their blockbuster matches are played in Melbourne. It means many supporters are already paying to travel to Melbourne, as Simonds Stadium isn’t big enough to hold games against the bigger sides. It will just add another cost onto already expensive trips.
While fans have expressed their concerns, there are many questions to be asked on how this would work.
It is unclear how the AFL will decide what determines a blockbuster, whether it will depend on teams which are playing or the size of the crowd, whether it will depend on the ground the game is held at or whether this plan will come to fruition before the upcoming season.
One major question is whether the AFL will look at increasing prices for the Queen’s Birthday blockbuster clash between Melbourne and Collingwood, which involves one of the clubs the increased pricing is meant to help.
Whilst the AFL has only floated the idea, initial reaction has been against it. In order to help the clubs in need, supporters will be having money used to see their team in action go towards another club whether they like it or not.