A TOWN of 85,000 people like Hastings should not be struggling to get 300 people through the doors of its main football club every other Saturday.
But any club up and down the country should not be forcing pensioners to pay more to watch an amateur game of football in the third tier of non-league football (see page three).
One look around the ground on any given Saturday and it is clear to see that the majority of fans are pensioners, or ageing fans.
United should be applauded in their bid to try and get more youngsters through the gates.
But by 20 years of age some of these youngsters can be earning several hundred pounds a week and still living at home with mum and dad.
Is it right to let them in for free, when old Joe and his pals who have been supporting the club through thick and thin since the 1950s have to pay more.
Like Age UK state, there are 18,000 older people living in low income households in East Sussex. They should not be used as cash cows.
There are league football clubs like Barnet who charge just £13 for concessions. Dartford, who play in the Blue Square Bet Premier league, charge just £9.
And United charge more than several clubs in the same league.
Surely the marketing strategy needs to be targeted. Obviously the higher up the league the team can go the more people will come to watch. That is just human nature.
If pensioners were charged a couple of quid they may spend more in the club bar, or on food and beverages.
Many clubs now offer deals such as kids for a quid, or buy one in get one free. Or what about one single charge for adults of maybe £6 or £7. There has to be an incentive to go and support the team. It’s not just about it being your home town team any more.
Hastings United needs its fans more than the fans need the club.
The Saturday football match used to be a religion, part of the weekend culture, an unmoveable feast.
But times have changed. There are so many other distractions around today; weekend shopping, children’s clubs and activities and even holidays to name but a few.
And most importantly we must not forget that we are in a double dip recession, one of the worst economic times in recent history.
Football is a luxury item now for many families these days. Now is not the time to charge fans more for doing what they love best.