Often Partisan

The More, The Merrier

One would have to be living under a rock for the last few months to not know about the Olympics currently taking place in London, such as the wall-to-wall coverage within the media. One thing I picked up on today was about the problem of empty seats at some of the venues, and whilst I was listening to the chap from LOCOG talking about solving the problem it led me to thinking about St Andrews and the problems Blues have with filling it.

Apparently the problem with the Olympic venues has been people not taking up accredited seats from sponsors – not a problem Blues suffer with to my knowledge but it has been interesting seeing how LOCOG have dealt with attendance issues. One example is how many tickets have been sold for the Olympic soccer tournament. I saw it mentioned online that for the GB Women’s game today tens of thousands of tickets were handed out to local schoolchildren in Cardiff to boost the attendance and it got me to thinking about St Andrews.

At the moment, Blues do hand out a large number of tickets to school and community programs – more than you’d probably think. Like typical Brummies, Blues are quite self-effacing when it comes to how they deal with charities – ie not making any waves about it, just getting on with doing good that is appreciated by people. Whilst I’m the first to admit from my own personal experiences as a season ticket holder in the family stand that children don’t necessarily make a loud and hostile football atmosphere I do think that it’s important that we get more children into watching the Blues – after all, they’re the next generation of support.

I’m curious as to how people feel about the empty seats at St Andrews. Blues average attendance from last season was 19,125 (as taken from the Football League’s own stats here (PDF Link)), which is broadly similar to our last spell in the Championship where we averaged 19,080. This puts us about half way down the list of Championship sides and even taking into account that a maxed out St Andrews holds no more than about 28,500 rather than the official figure of 30,009 this works out to just over 2/3 capacity.

Without getting into arguments about lack of money in the area, the shenanigans behind the scenes and whatnot, it does seem obvious to me that the ground would be better filled with more fans. I know some people who are season ticket holders are quite touchy about the idea of too many discounted tickets meaning a Season Ticket works out more expensive than tickets bought on a game by game basis – and I accept that – but I do think as season ticket holders we need to be accepting that it would be better if there were more fans. How the club can achieve this though – well, that’s the harder part.

I think the club have done everything that they can to make it as easy as possible to buy a ticket online – the print at home facility means that for no charge you can book your ticket and have it in your hands in a matter of minutes without leaving your house – which has to be a good thing and it’s my opinion that that ease of convenience and allowing people to get something on impulse is the way forwards. There have been games in the past where there have been cash turnstiles and I think this is a big way forwards – make it possible for people to decide “you know what, the sun is out, I fancy watching the football” without thinking about how they’re going to sort tickets and the like out. Maybe if the club could couple that with using unassigned seating in some of the quieter/less desirable blocks – such as the Tilton Corner nearest the main stand so that people can sit with mates and whatnot – well, it has to be an idea.

The fact is, attendance is and always will be a thorny issue. There is no way that anyone can generalise about people not going – after all, it’s a personal decision and whilst one might not agree with it one has to respect another’s right to exercise their perogative. The truth is though right now I think it’s an exciting time to be a Blues fan – we had a great season last year and we’ve kept the bulk of the squad for this year to do the same. It’s my belief that the staff at the club more than ever have worked to make going to St Andrews an enjoyable experience and I personally hope that I for one can help to encourage people into going back to the Blues – after all, it’s true what they say – the more the merrier.

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26 Responses to “The More, The Merrier”

  • Benno says:

    Could even be bring a mate for nowt…

    bodies through the door also means more from concessions.

    Food for thought that

  • nick says:

    As a Blues fan now living in Hiroshima, Japan I can tell you they have the same problem here. The Hiroshima FC stadium is never more than 30% full. They do have an initiative whereby small, local businesses are targeted to purchase a couple of tickets. These are then raffled at work and the recipients get to watch a game for free.
    Perhaps that is something the commercial department should be looking at.

    • KeeprightCroydON says:

      Nick, this is a good idea.
      Anyone else have any innovative suggestions?
      Perhaps if we can gather a few on this page, they can be passed on to Blues’ commercial dept.
      What do you think Al?

      • almajir says:

        I’ll pass on what I can

        • nick says:

          I imagine that this is a tax free way for small business to reward their employees here in Japan. Another point is that football clubs seem to expect the matchday tickets to be sold rather than chasing the business Perhaps setting up a small team devoted to chasing non corporate companies would work well.

  • Alan Sadler says:

    Bring an armchair fan for a Quid ? I know lots of bluenoses who just need a nudge
    to get them going we could even offer a deal on season tickets if bought with a full priced one

  • Euston 9.18 says:

    I remember going down the BLUES,when it was standing,sometimes having the extra beer in the pub,so not getting in till after kick off,but in them days fans had there own standing areas,where there mates knew where they would be,even mates who didn’t go down every game,knew if they fancied going,knew where there mates would be standing.

    Now,because the ground became all seater,mates could be all over St Andrews.

    I think it affects the crowd figures & also the atmosphere.

    I’m a singer a shouter & swear,but when it comes to sitting next to a woman,child or even get a ticket in the middle of a family day out ( not my own ) & it has happened to me down the BLUES,I just sit there & watch the game.
    Some people don’t enjoy listening to fans like me,singing,swearing or just having a laugh & to be honest,I don’t enjoy sitting next to these fans,who enjoy going the match in silence.
    But everyone to there own,not knocking them,but that’s why I think,either fans don’t go or why St Andrews becomes a morgue sometimes on match day.

    Maybe that’s the reason there’s more banter at away games,you can sit where you like.

  • Chris says:

    Well said, I can vouch for Blues “Blues are quite self-effacing when it comes to how they deal with charities – ie not making any waves about it, just getting on with doing good that is appreciated by people.” when I was diaganosed with cancer, I decided to try and raise funds and awareness for ward 19 @ the heartlands. I was given 100 matchday tickets for the ward, paitents and staff both benifited from Blues quiet generousity. I agree with you and Benno fill the seats (kids for a quid, bring a mate) anyway we can, then sell more refeshment etc. A full stadium is always noisier.

  • gareth says:

    The problem with giving away too many free tickets is when it gets to the point where people (and season ticket holders most importantly) don’t buy because they’ll wait for a free ticket initiative.

    The cash turnstile idea would be perfect, there’s been a few times when I’ve been out the house and thought about going to the blues, but been put off because I can’t be arsed to queue at the ticket office, go and find parking, etc (Dedication, I know!).

    • John says:

      I am amazed at people who “cant be arsed” to go out. Not just going to the Blues,going anywhere. Unless you are taking part in sport yourself,what can be better, than going to watch a sporting occasion. Don’t let life pass you by,get yourself to St.Andrews when the Blues are at home. Live a little,enjoy yourself ! KRO

  • Saint Trevor of Francis says:

    As a none season ticket holder and occasional matchgoer – although life long fan – there are several issues here. First, buying tckets from the Blues website is a tedious business involving providing more details than one would need to give to get a passport! If you want to buy, as I did , tickets for my two lads as well it becomes even more complex. In fact it was easier for me to buy tickets for the friendly at Shrewsbury than it is for a game at St Andrews. Secondly – price. ‘Kids for a Quid’ seems a no brainer to me. Third – buy a ticket to sit anywhere in a particular stand – parents not wanting their kids exposed to the ranters and swearers could move.
    Play the Blues ladies games at St Andrews immediately before the mens matches.

    • Northern exile says:

      The double-header would be an excellent idea, but unfortunately the WFC is an entirely separate entity these days.

      I don’t think there’s any straightforward answer to packing more people into St Andrew’s. I think maybe the club ought to think about a bus service for teenagers from the suburbs, with pick-ups and drop-offs in places like Olton, Shirley, Hobs Moat, Sheldon, Acocks Green, Yardley, etc., because some of our most passionate fans by far are the 14/15 year old lads who’ve yet to discover that there’s more to life than football (e.g. girls and jobs and uni), but might have difficulty getting to the ground if they don’t live on the train line going through Bordesley. They’d also be the most likely to be checking out the website or official Facebook page, so would be easiest to advertise something like ‘free lift with ticket for under 16s’. They could even all be seated in the same area, to get a little youth section going.

  • Carl says:

    Presuming we’re not going to become Man City overnight, filling the stadium is about getting people to go down to the stadium as a matter of habit.

    One obvious way to do this is to get the next generation of fans interested in the soap opera that is the Blues.

    Some fans may not like too many families and groups of kids but they are the target audience if we’re going to be filling the stadium in ten years time – hopefully with a bigger capacity!

    As for filling it in the short term, I’m bored of hearing about how it’s the grown up ‘proper’ supporters that generate the best atmosphere: they would do if they actually went to the games. Attendances are embarrasing. So many of my mates who used to go down the Blues no longer go down for various reasons – but mainly because they’re out of the habit, they’ve found other things to do and spend their money on.

    Let’s fill the stadium whatever, I’m fine with heavily discounted tickets for kids and students.

  • Bluenosed says:

    The seats infront of me aren’t usually taken up by season ticket holders. The lottery is what retard will be sitting there and generally the bigger the game the bigger the idiot. I would love the tickets to be given to kids for free.

    I buy my season ticket to have the choice of my seat. If it works out cheaper over the season going into a lottery of where i can sit well that is not for me. Even if it works out at half the price (which it won’t)

  • Blueboy 88 says:

    Affordability is the biggest threat , not just ticket prices, but travel, programmes snacks etc

    The club can help in some of these areas.
    If we accept each seat can potentially generate 100 units of income ,
    currently we have 19,000 x 100 = 19,000 .
    If there was a reduction to 70 units per seat with a full house of 28,500 x 70 = 19,950

    Also why not offer all inclusive tickets with programme , & drink included at a discount ?
    In a family package.

  • DoctorD says:

    Why not do an easyjet style booking system — ie you get a discount if you buy far enough ahead. Also maybe the club should offer something “extra” on Saturday matchdays — not sure what, but the ladies’ game mentioned above doesn’t sound a bad idea or perhaps a giant bouncy castle in the carpark for kids. I don’t live in Birmingham so if you’re gonna come all that way with kids — the fans of the future — you want to be able to offer them something to remember.

  • bluenose08 says:

    As i work on a saturday not knowing what time i will finish i cant get a season ticket and if i arrive late i dont want to be losing time going to the ticket office so a cash turnstile would benefit me !!
    Lets give members of the armed forces a generous discount.

  • Gary says:

    Agree Euston, grew up watching Blues standing in the kop, knew where to go even if on your own. Anyway, I live in Oz now and there is a club in Perth and they have a standing area behind one end, it is controlled, and capacity is limited in the area, and its the area that is sold out first I believe at all home games. I think it is because the atmosphere is good, because of the singing etc, and believe that half the people in the seated area,which is the rest of the ground go because of the atmosphere created by the people there. I know this will not happen in UK for a while yet, but I believe this could create an environment that people would enjoy and want to come back to experience. So, maybe if there were area`s set aside where first come first serve with regard to seats, it may create a ownership/koppite/tiltonite singing area, as at away games.
    The noise of the Blues fans singing “Keep right on” got me in, maybe it could for the young kids going for the first time now.

    • Euston 9.18 says:

      Good old day’s “GARY” !!

      I started off,1/2 way line in the Kop,but noticed the songs & atmosphere coming from the Tilton drew you towards that area of the ground,next to the away fans.

      The “APEX SKINHEADS” !! “if they were bored used to fight between each other” !!

      Just a string net between the fans !!

      70’s & 80’s have flashbacks of the size of the away fans crowding into the Tilton End….

      West sham,Chelsea,yids,man u,leeds,vile,think the leeds game was the last packed away end when it was the Tilton.

      Remember when we played millwall at home,Tuesday night game,all ticket,BLUES won 1~0,think Steve Whitton scored from a free/kick,just blasted it,always did when taking a pen or free/kick.

      I’m sure it was reported at the time,it was the lowest crowd attendance for a league game down St Andrews at the time,less than 5`000 or 4`000.

      Also can anyone remember when we were standing down at St Andrews,you could get in for free after 4.20 or was it 4.30 on a Saturday afternoon,any reason why they did this ??

  • KeeprightCroydON says:

    How about if the club starts a lottery to win pairs of tickets, sold through pubs, sport & social clubs and similar outlets. Set aside a section of seating for for winners, so that if they wish to purchase extra tickets for family and friends, they can be together. It will take a bit of administration to ensure the outlets selling tickets are properly accredited and bona fide, but it could get a whole load of people interested on a regular (fortnightly) basis waiting to see if their lucky number has come up.

  • oldburyblue says:

    I love full houses…great for atmosphere and extra income for the Club…but can I put my head above the parapet and say that smaller crowds do have benefits regarding easier parking, getting away after the game, queues for toilets and general movement within the ground.

  • Paulo says:

    I have my gripes towards BCFC about ticket pricing and ‘customer service’ …and having been a clubcard holder previously, I feel very justified in saying that the club’s ticket office is as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike.
    Prices are high and when a game is on sky, the ticket price is way too much anyway. I prefer it now being a season ticket holder, as I dont have to have an argument with the ticket office ..well, until away game tickets anyway! (they will always overcharge, even when they advertise on the site) …and dont get me started on ‘pricing’ when buying online.
    It isnt right that the club overcharge fans who CAN be arsed to go down the blues, almost forget the season ticket holders exist, and at the last minute rewards those who couldn’t be bothered by the odd offer.
    Kids for a quid is good, but I get very p***ed off when I get a mother hen and her ‘oh so innocent’ kids sit next to me and look at me in disgust when I stand up, shout, sing, and join in some banter with the lads and mates! My daughter aint bothered, I and those regulars around me are just passionate. But when it’s full ..its a lottery of ‘who gets the cabbage’ sitting by them.
    Why dont blues shove some offers to the season ticket holders and give them the chance to initially buy some discounted tickets for people / kids they know and reward loyalty in points to them personally. It would take a little bit of work off the club and give a little bonus pot to the most important group of people within the club.
    ..now I know the chance of sitting next to the odd mate or two can be next to bloody impossible, but come on, start somewhere.

  • Rathater says:

    The question should be why do fans stay away?? I for 1 blame the over zealous Stewards who are completely over the top!
    You stand up, point, shout or even forbid it fart and they’re on top of you!
    We have to have the worst stewarding and policing in the UK, and that’s a fact!!
    They are power hungry over the top free riders!
    Rant over

  • jazzzy786 says:

    Success on the pitch and entertaining football attracts fans. WBA are a similar sized club in the same area and they have just sold 18,000+ season tickets for the second year running. Admittedly they are playing more attractive opposition.

  • BluenoseDownunder says:

    The biggest attraction will be playing good attacking football resulting with plenty of goals. I think it’s fair to say that Blues surprised even their own supporters with their results after relegation, mass exodus of players and the legacy from the McNegative era. I think this year you will see more people going to the fortress knowing they can play good football and press for promotion, which will in turn attract more punters.. wish i could be there and add 1 more to the gate number but it’s a bit of a hike from here… KRO

  • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

    We don’t have enough fans to fill the ground week in week out.

    We’ve had loads of initiatives but people just don’t wanna come.

    I meet umpteen people who talk about Blues non stop but would never dream of going to a game.

    We have to accept that.

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