Supporters show United red card over price hike

30/8/12- John Morgan from Bexhill- unhappy about increases to Hastings United ticket prices

30/8/12- John Morgan from Bexhill- unhappy about increases to Hastings United ticket prices

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SUPPORTERS have shown the red card to Hastings United FC chairman after he raised admission prices for those over 65 by a third and said they were the “wealthiest in the UK.”

The move has already angered two long term supporters who claim Dave Walters is “out of touch with reality” and his comments were an “insult.”

Mr Walters comments were included in the match programme for United’s first home game of the season against Margate last Tuesday (Aug 20) after prices rose from £6 to £8 for fans aged 65 and over.

Adult prices rose from £9 to £10.

He wrote: “Up to last season concessions were discounted by 33 per cent of full price.

“Most of the concession sector is made up of supporters in the 65+ age group, and as a whole this group is the wealthiest in the UK.

“We appreciate that not everyone in this category would consider themselves wealthy but many have enjoyed benefits during their lifetime such as vastly rising house prices, tax relief on mortgages, final salary pension schemes etc whereas most pople do not enjoy any of these things, particularly those in the 21-65 age category who have to pay the full price.”

Hastings United now charge among the highest prices for pensioners in the Ryman Premier League.

In a random sample of prices Cray Wanderers charge £4, Margate £7, Wingate & Finchley £5, Lowestoft Town FC £8, Lewes FC £6, Carshalton Athletic £6 and Leiston £5.

Life-long supportter John Morgan has been going to the Pilot Field since 1952.

But the 67-year-old says he does not want to go to any more matches until Mr Walters apologises.

Mr Morgan said: “Mr Walters’ comments were totally out of place were insulting to my age group.

“I am on a state pension and a small private pension and far from wealthy.

“I would have reluctantly accepted the increase had it not been for his comments.

“At a time when more supporters are needed, I feel this will have the opposite effect.”

Fellow supporter Ivor Scaife said: “This is an insult to these people some of whom have given well over 50 years support to the club. Mr Walters you need a reality check before you ruin our club.”

Mr Walters said: “It would be nice to get a thank you from these people for myself and colleagues who have kept the club afloat for the last nine years. They are just too quick to complain.

“These people have had the better of it financially as a whole but we can’t afford to offer that concession any more - it can’t be justified.I had to give up my career to concentrate on the club - I am a volunteer. I’m just disappointed with people’s attitude.”

Age UK spokesman Judith Owen-Phillips said: “We disagree with Mr Walters’s 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.”

What do you think about the price rise? Email your comments to sol.buckner@jpress.co.uk