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Friday, September 26, 2008

Advocating Fan "Response" to QPR's Announced Price Increases

Clive Whittingham of LoftforWords writing on the subject of the proposed increase in ticket prices and how QPR fans are responding (or not responding).

(Reposted with permission)

Clive Whittingham, LoftForWords - United we stand

Well I nearly fell off my seat when I heard that the Football League had told us we couldn’t raise our prices for away fans mid season. The Football League siding with the common fan and standing up against the outrageous pricing of football matches? Whatever next? I haven’t been so gob smacked since I heard QPR were introducing this rip off in the first place.

Credit where it’s due to the league, and to Derby County who took one look at the scandalous prices QPR wanted to charge their fans, stifled a laugh and then sent them straight back. I can well imagine plenty of clubs, ours included, would have mumbled a bit and sold them for £40 without asking any questions. Derby have done exactly the right thing by their fans, who will still pay prices a little on the expensive side this coming Saturday and if I was a Rams fan I’d be absolutely delighted with the way my club has stood up for me this week.

If only I could say the same of the club I do support. QPR never seem to be more than 20 minutes away from another idea designed to shaft me and you. Be it a ticket price rise, a £3.50 booking fee or making me pay to have my season ticket posted to me after shelling out £600 to buy it in the first place one thing QPR are not doing at the moment is any favours for the people that turn up to support them week after week and have done through thick and extremely thin times.

Amit Bhatia’s heartfelt thanks to the fans at Villa Park published on the club’s official website on Thursday was a lovely touch and much appreciated but it had a hollow ring to it coming as it did just two days after the same website had announced that, because of Derby’s objections and the league decision, ticket prices in the Loft would be returned to their previous level. News that was broken to us by way of a paragraph at the end of a story about how all the most expensive tickets for the Derby game had sold out. Those would be the platinum tickets we were told were sold out in the summer would they? A story published on the same website that said the club had experienced unprecedented demand for tickets to the Barnsley game (attendance 14,964)? How bloody stupid do they think we are?

The problem is, what are we going to do about it? I grew up among QPR fans, a tiny little mop haired dot among all these big blokes at football matches. It was the best time of my life. Back in those days QPR fans protested at the drop of a hat – mergers with Fulham and Wimbledon were fought off, a chairman was ousted after selling our best players, a blonde lady ran on the pitch and removed her shirt (but not her bra). The story goes that a week later at Sheffield Wednesday my Grandad told her we were all very proud but somewhat disappointed. Dirty old man.

Now the fan base seems to be fractured. There are that many groups and personalities that think they should have a say it really has become like the Life of Brian and the Judean People’s Front, or is that the People’s Front of Judea? In time I’d like to think that all these splinter groups and websites can come back under the banner of either the LSA or QPR 1st so when things like this happen in future we can speak with one voice.

The initial season ticket price rises were announced after the last match, presumably so we didn’t all kick up a fuss at Flavio’s big party before the West Brom match. In the end those increases, necessary to some extent but scandalously over cooked, went through and we quietly accepted them. Now just three home league games in we’re forced to swallow another increase and it seems we’re going to say nothing again.

A silent protest was muted, excuse the pun, for the first ten minutes this weekend. Some said this wouldn’t work, some wanted to know how this decision had been reached, others said it would detrimentally affect the team (do me a favour), and others said we shouldn’t offend our owners in case they pack up and leave us in the lurch. Purlease. Nobody is more grateful than me for what our board has done for this club – the team is excellent, the ground looks better although I do miss my members bar, the sponsorship deals are superb, we’re on the up and it’s absolutely bloody awesome after years of decline. But to raise prices in the summer by so much after telling us specifically they would be going up by “10 per cent or something normal” and then raise them again after three games to £40 for Championship football, again out of the blue with no consultation, and to insult us with spin on the official website. Well I’m sorry but something needs to be said about that.

The fact that we’ve won at Norwich and Aston Villa since the raises were announced, exhilarating though it was, makes not one bit of difference. We don’t want the board to leave but we need to show them somehow that we’re much more than “somebody who turns up once a week and pays £20” as Flavio Briatore has previously suggested. We deserve to be treated better than we have been over the past fortnight and the club needs to understand that we will not stand for things like this. Sadly, reading round the other message boards, it seems that apathy and some deluded sense of self importance about just how crucial it is that 300 people sing “you Northern scum” in the first ten minutes of the Derby match means that the silence protest is doomed to failure.

Fine. If a silence isn’t the way to go then I can accept that. Personally I’d go with banners and a few well targeted chants. However if a silence is the preferred method then as many people as possible should take part. The worst thing we can do this Saturday is do nothing, roll over and accept what has been handed to us. What is to stop this happening again if we do? What is to stop prices for say the last home game of the season being hiked to £60 or £70 each if it turns out to be a promotion decider? Grateful yes, but door mats no. This raise must not go unopposed and with the ITV cameras at Loftus Road this Saturday we have a terrific chance to make a point. A decade ago we wouldn’t have thought twice about it." LoftForWords

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