THE article in last Friday’s Observer re: our increase in admission prices for over 65s raises some questions.
It would appear to be based on two letters to the Observer, one of which is apparently from a Mr Morgan from Bexhill. In his letter Mr Morgan says that he attended the game on Saturday against Wingate where he learned of the admission price increase, but his main point was how disappointed he was in reading our notes and explanation for it.
However my notes on this subject were in the previous game’s programme. How can that be explained?
In the article it says ‘he does not want to go to any more matches until Mr Walters apologises’. However nowhere in his letter is this stated.
Finally, it seems very strange that for someone who has apparently been a supporter for more than 60 years he is not known to any of us at the club.
As far as the admission price situation is concerned here is the relevant extract from the chairman’s notes for the programme on the Tuesday evening:
‘We have finally had to increase admission prices this season for the first time since we achieved promotion, and this is now our sixth season in the Ryman Premier.
‘Our costs go up every year and we simply can’t not pass some of these on. I know times are difficult for most people but I am sure most of you understand that to try and remain competitive on the pitch we really have little choice. We have for some time been considering what to do about the price charged for concessions which up to last season was discounted by 33 per cent of the full price.
‘We have increasingly found this hard to justify. Most of the concession sector is made up of supporters who are 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 people now do not enjoy any of these things, particularly those in the age category of 21 to 65 who have to pay the full price.
‘We have however taken the decision to extend free entry for the age group up to age 21. We started this last season by making it free for under 18s and we did see a gradual increase in numbers in this category which had been very poor prior to this.
‘I am sure most supporters would recognise that it is vital to encourage young people who are the club’s future but are arguably having a tougher time financially than any of us experienced at their age.
‘We know that not everyone will agree with this policy but we are confident that most will understand and accept our thinking on it.’
We believe most other clubs are misguided in their concessions policy, but this is no great surprise given the poor financial state most clubs are in due to how they are run. The Observer does not offer concessionary prices to over 65s, why is that? The White Rock Theatre does not offer concessionary prices despite the huge council taxpayers’ subsidy it gets. Why is that?
Most other companies do not offer subsidies to people who are over a certain age and yet at football clubs like ours it appears to be expected. We are being criticised (apparently) and yet we do offer 20 per cent off our normal price to people aged 65 and over.
We also offer free admission to all under age 21, a policy we believe to be more generous than any other pro or semi-pro club in England, but where was the mention of that?
DAVE WALTERS, SIMON RUDKINS and DAVE MURPHY
Hastings United Football Club