On Saturday lunchtime, Huddersfield Town travel to Leeds Utd to resume competition in both the Championship and for supremacy of West Yorkshire.
There will be, at last count, about 1,500 away fans there though the club have been allocated nearly double that number of tickets, which cost £36 for an adult, though – for the first time in a while – Leeds are offering concessions.
There’s a number of ways of thinking about that. Its an important game for the club, and if you want to go, you’ll pay the £36, though possibly grumble something about extortion.
The problem there, though, is that you paid the exorbitant fee. In paying it, you become complicit in clubs offering second tier tickets at that price. I don’t want to badmouth Leeds here. Their own fans are paying the same amount, and they’ll turn up in droves.
But what does the number of tickets sold say about Huddersfield Town fans?
A number of things.
It shows how difficult this season, that was meant to be one of redemption has become. It shows how far behind Leeds, a rival team, people think their club has fallen. It shows that there isn’t enough Huddersfield Town fans with enough disposable income to unquestionably fork out £36 to watch their team 20 miles away. It shows an element of bitterness, because I’ve seen a number of people saying they wouldn’t pay Leeds anyway, whatever the price.
I wouldn’t pay that to watch a football match anywhere. I don’t think I’ve seen many matches that gives me enough pleasure to think £36 is good value compared to what else it would buy.
That’s not the problem. If its your money, you can spend it how you want. The problem is, that by anybody paying £36, it gives clubs a licence to charge that much to watch a game. If you resent paying it, you solve nothing by grudgingly stumping up and attending.
You have every right to spend the money, and every right to watch your club, wherever they’re playing, but if you do so, you’re agreeing to the demands put upon you.
If you’re a Hull fan who agrees to jump through West Yorkshire Police’s hoops to see them at Huddersfield, you’re saying that you seeing your team that day is more important than nobody ever having to go to those lengths again.
If you buy a football ticket that is £36 (or £62, as was at Arsenal recently) then whatever you think, your actions speak louder, they say that you’re willing to pay that amount.
Until more people say ‘No. I won’t pay that much to watch football’ – not ‘its Leeds’, not ‘its a shit ground’, not even ‘I can’t afford’, just ‘I won’t pay that much’, then clubs will charge whatever they can get away with.
Fans can make a difference to football, but to do that, they have to make a difference together.
Finally, I hope all those who have paid £36 to watch Leeds v Huddersfield at Elland Road have the best afternoon of their lives. I hope, truly, their money will be well spent.