ANGRY supporters have continued to show Hastings United the red card after the club increased the entrance fee for pensioners.
Several more letters were sent to The Observer following last week’s story about prices rising from £6 to £8 this season for those aged 65 and over.
But there have also been some in support of the move.
Chairman Dave Walters was criticised over the decision and the comments he made in the recent Margate matchday programme when he labelled those aged 65 and over as a whole as “the wealthiest in the UK.”
The comments incensed life-long fans like John Morgan and Ivor Gill who claimed Mr Walters was out of touch with reality. Some fans have vowed to stay away unless he apologises.
Age UK spokesman Judith Owen-Phillips said: “We disagree with Mr Walters’ comments which appear to make assumptions about a very diverse group of individuals.
“Not everyone in the over 65 age group is wealthy. In fact, across East Sussex, there are over 18,000 older people living in low income households. In Hastings itself, there are areas which rank amongst the 10 per cent most deprived nationally for poverty among older people.”
Phil Glazier from Bexhill wrote: “Many have to survive on the state pension or little more.
“Why should those who have supported the club for many years subsidises the under 21s some of whose income is far greater but are allowed free admission?
“The pricing policy is ludicrous and out of tune with the vast majority of clubs at this level of the game who allow concessions at 60.
“The bottom line is people will pay to watch their local side if it is successful and providing the pricing policy is reasonable.”
David Bailey from Heatherdune Road, Bexhill, wrote: “I live on a state pension and find the price increase too much as I also travel from Bexhill.
“I think Walters should apologize and I won’t go back until he does.
“I understand that might be hard for him to do. Most clubs let under 16s in free not under 21.
“He has targeted the over 65s because they are the vast majority of fans where he can make more money.”
Marie Gale from Hardwicke Road, Hastings wrote: “Like Mr Morgan my husband has been an ardent fan for over 60 years and still is even though he is not happy with the price increase either, but neither is he happy about Mr Walters comments. “How lucky he must be to give up his career to work as he says as a volunteer. He must be in a very lucky position unlike my husband who was made redundant three times in four years and certainly is not one of the fortunate ones.
“We have both worked extremely hard all our working lives and did not finish up with wonderful pensions but like many others of our age group we have been careful.”
Those backing the club include Steve Davis, from Bexhill, who wrote: “I am pretty sure in that time there has been no price rise which is quite amazing in itself. I have not been supporting as long as Mr Morgan and Mr Scaife and am surprised that these loyal supporters are so incensed with paying what amounts to £42 more a season.”
Mr Newman from Bexhill said: “Should we not be applauding and supporting Hastings United for creating an environment where the younger generation can enjoy an afternoon of highly entertaining football for free or indeed a father and his sons/daughters for as little as £10. Why not come along to the Pilot Field and enjoy the atmosphere being generated by the younger presence and perhaps encourage others to understand that the longevity of the club is the long term goal. This is only going to continue by encouraging a new generation of supporters as well as looking after the existing ones. The current pricing reflects a fair value for money for all ages in these financially difficult times.” See page eight to read a letter by Mr Walters.