The West Ham rip-off: to boycott or not to boycott

Tickets can now be bought for the last two away games – but be prepared to pass by the mortgage broker on your way to paying for the West Ham United match on Sunday May 22.

The appalling rip-off merchants who have charge of West Ham have decided that Sunderland supporters should be mugged for £46 apiece for the dubious honour of a seat at Upton Park/Boleyn/pre-Olympic Plaza.

By contrast, the ticket part of the trip to Bolton on May 7 would knock you back only £20 or £28.

Instead of merely fulminating to no great effect about Sullivan and Gold, or Sullivan’s Gold, some SAFC supporters are already talking of voting their feet, that is by putting their feet nowhere near West Ham on what should otherwise be – for us – a carefree final day of an eventful but unmenacing season.

In fairness, more may be at stake for the hosts. Whether that justifies the hike from what would normally have been a £36 price, itself steep but for London hardly remarkable, is another matter.

The question is simple: should we boycott the match altogether?

This is what the London branch of the SAFC Supporters’ Association has to say in its circular alerting members to the tickets going on sale:

Note the ticket prices for West Ham! This is the result of a recent categorisation change of the game – their normal admission price is £36 – and an approach was made to the Branch to consider asking members to boycott the game. Your Committee however feels this is a matter of personal choice and for many members games in London offer the only opportunities to follow the team. So it’s up to you!

Others, with longer journeys to face, are already making that choice

This is what our good friend Sobs said on behalf of the Durham branch:

“£46 may not be the highest we’ve paid this season (by a few quid) but at least at Chelsea we got a decent seat, a fairly spacious consourse for refreshments, and a decent view. At West Ham, we get cramped seats with a very low roof, a “bordering on the unsafe” cramped consourse, and a moderate view which will deteriorate when some fans decide to stand. That West Ham have made this a category A game because “it could be vital to our survival” (from their website ticket page) is scandalous. Will it cost any more to police, manage, or stage? No it won’t. Are we paying the first instalment on their move to the Olympic Stadium? Probably.”

Sobs sees calls for a boycott as expressing a noble sentiment, but says such action may not be feasible. Many people have already planned their traditional weekend away for the last away game of the season, he says.

Significantly, however, he reports that some branch members have signed up for the weekend trip while specifying that they do not wish to purchase match tickets.

As a protest, they will probably watch it in the pub – “not as a slight to Niall Quinn,” Sobs points out, “but to emphasise just why people choose to do so, and that it’s stupid ticket prices like this which force people to take up the TV option.”

Urging SAFC to make clear to West Ham how strongly people feel, Sobs adds: “Niall Quinn is campaiging hard to get fans back into our stadium, but clubs like West Ham are doing their best to either keep them out, or rip off those who decide to attend. This is the United Kingdom in 2011, the economic situation is not good, and we, the fans, just don’t have the money to splash around the way clubs expect us to. Football needs to come back into the real world and make the game accessible to real people again.”

It is, of course, a choice for each supporter to make. The reality is that given the huge loyalty Sunderland commands among its fans, especially those who follow the club away, our allocation will almost certainly sell out.

Which is a perfectly good reason for hoping that West Ham go down, a relegation this Sunderland supporter would not otherwise have wished on Hammers fans.

* See also:

Monsieur Salut

22 thoughts on “The West Ham rip-off: to boycott or not to boycott”

  1. Malcolm – I’m pretty sure Quinny said something along those lines when we took a smaller allocation and some people couldn’t get tickets … the away club has to pay for the number they ask for regardless of whether they sell them all or not. Whatever, £46 ia just too much .. don’t care where the match is. Chairmen are just exploiting the unique nature of supporters’ ‘brand loyalty’.

  2. Does anyone know who loses out if the visiting allocation doesn’t sell out?

    I was under the impression that the away team requests a certain amount of tickets and those which are subsequently provided (at a negotiated cost) are then the property of the away team. So if Sunderland ordered 2,000 tickets and only sold 500 it would be Sunderland and not West Ham which was out of pocket.

    I don’t know where I got this idea from. Can anyone enlighten me? Is there such a thing as sale or return between clubs?

    If there is a grain of truth in what I thought, then the only way to “punish” a visiting club would be to penalise their fans by nominating the return fixture as a Category A game.

    Being more of a believer in morality than a market forces IMO prices should be fixed for the season and regular attenders should be given priority in some way. It riles me when I see hospitality boxes empty at big sporting events because the invited guests are more interested in the food, drink and networking than the cricket, football, rugby etc. when genuine fans are being ripped off.

    And in terms of treating Home and Away fans differently, when we played Aston Villa earlier in the season our tickets were over £40 and home fans could get two for one at £22 the pair! At our home game v Liverpool, season card holders could buy extra tickets for a tenner each. It also seems unfair, that those who put their money up front before the season starts, should see the savings they think they are making eroded by such offers.

  3. What I think is funny about this (particularly if they up the prices for the last game as a matter of routine!) is that they think away fans give a monkey’s about the fact that West Ham in the drop zone. It may be an A game for them but it’s barely passing the C rating for a visiting club with nothing to play for.

    If their owners think that this is about understanding market forces then it’s hardly any wonder they are in dire straits financially. If they don’t care about Sunderland fans turning up (and that means losing money probably as a result of their own greed) then they are going the right way about it.

    Great post from Ironman as well btw!

  4. I can’t say i’d blame you if you chose to boycot this game. It is an absolute disgrace; the powers that be have no regard whatsoever for the fans that pay the wages and motivate the staff, week in, week out. We were done by Fulham in a similar way (more expensive even than we are charging you, btw!) so I had the ridiculous situation where it was cheaper to travel to Birmingham and watch the League Cup Semi Final than it was to cross London for a league game. I hope you all come but wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t. Shame on them.

  5. well, if we have any financial shortcomings,I’m not aware of them! If you’re happy to pay an extra £10 to Sunderland – and I’ll admit we’re not a top team deserving of an extra £10 – then fair enough. I lucky enough that I can afford the extra, but just don’t see why I should have to. Keep upping the prices and crowds will drop – it’s already started. Let’s hope it’s a decent game, anyway.

  6. SOBS…again every club ir run to male money. It isnt a hobby its a business, gold and sullivan arent exactly lining their own pockets with the money. They have constantly pumped money in to west ham since they have joined? All prices are determined by supply and demand, if theres 50000 want tickets but only 35000 available why not make extra money thats how all markets are run.
    As i said previously if u dnt wana pay it dnt cum…more to our advantage as their will be no fans pushin your team on.
    If your so worried about the extra 10 quid on prices bring yourself a packed lunch lol

    End of the day dnt run down anyone at west ham for your short comings financially! Either way the games going to be played and no doubt it will be a tight game.

  7. Hammersam – not surfe what point you’re trying to make with your (undoubtedly correct maths), but all it does prove it SuGo are only interested in money. Neither do I understand your pint about discrimiating aginst Londoners because they’re better off – we don’t.
    All I’d ask for is fair prices. £45 for a game at West Brom? That’s just as unnacceptable as £46 at West Ham, and we certainly didn’t pay anything like that. If it’s what you’re being charged, then for football’s sake make a fuss about it. I expect a few WILL shy away from it at that price, just as some of ours are shying away from West Ham’s £46. It’s too much.

    “struggle to fill our own ground ” – fair enough, but our support rele (sic) is about always having sold out our allocation at West Ham, and probably still will this season.
    Gold & Sullivan? Lovely chaps, and I’ve been moaning about them since their Birmingham days when they started ripping us off.

  8. SOBS….well think of it financially to west ham an extra 10 quid for 33000 equals 330000 quid….if 1000 sunderland fans at 45 dnt show its 45000 simple maths mate, u get taught that at school.

    Secondly if london prices are for londoners then stay out of london…u cant discriminate on prices all because we are better off! You wont see our fans shying away from going west brom for 45 quid! I think this whole debate shows how your support rele is…u barely fill ur own ground so we arent expecting much frm you away.

    And your constant whining about gold and sullivan is sad and jus followin every1 else…they cut out wage to turnover ratio by 10 percent from 79 to 69. They have made money available for signings and got us a new ground what else could you ask for?

  9. If Sam and others are right about the last game of the season always without fail being Cat A, the club still has itself to blame for – quoting Sobs – stating that it had been made A because “it could be vital to our survival” .

    But I must admit that whether it’s standard rip-off or special rip-off, I am personally against a boycott because, assuming we don’t go into freefall, there will be nothing to worry about and the absence of impending doom should make it – for SAFC – a great occasion. London branch of the SAFCSA has it about right in saying it really is just a matter of personal choice.

    Thanks, btw, to the Hammers who have contributed to the debate. As Len Shackleton might have said had such things happened in his day, the knavery of bosses should not be an excuse for demonising the fans.

  10. @sobs our ticket prices are determined at the beginning of each season by categorising the games. If it makes you feel better, SuGo introduced a new upper category this year for “one game only” – obviously many fans felt a little aggrieved

    @Francois I’m not quite sure how you could justify selling that proposal to home fans though

    “Yeh, Sunderland only have to pay £20, but West Ham have to pay £46”

    Wouldn’t go down too well.

    It’s a catch 22.

    – Last day of the season is always Cat A
    – You can’t sell the away tickets for cheaper than the home
    – Everyone has to pay the same price (according to the band of seats they’re in)

    I’m not sure how you can get around that to be honest. Just one of those things.

    But by all means, I wish you all the best with your boycott 😉 ….it is likely to mean a lot more to us than it does you, so we could do with the extra support!!

  11. West Ham’s decision makers (sic) would have a stronger case if they hadn’t spent all season telling their fans how much they cared about them by reducing ticket prices when it suited them to boost attendances at Cup games – for example they reduced Burnley tickets to £15 then Karren Brady berated Burnley for not allowing the tickets to be reduced to £10 (which would have reduced their share of the gate fee drastically). A bit of common sense – Cat A for Hammers fans and Cat B for our visitors would have worked! That’s what you get for having Chavs as Chairmen instead of Niall Quinn.

  12. hey Hammersam – London prices for London folks. You earn more than we do for the same jobs, so you can afford it. Loadsamoneyyyy! As for west Ham not caring about the non-attendance of 1,000 away fasn – they bloody well should care. If people are turning their backs on a game, the club should want to know why. And if they really don’t care, shame on them. And publish ticket prices for ALL league games at the start of the season.

  13. I can also confirm what westhammer said has been the case for the last 4 seasons at least, sorry mackems. I doubt anyone will be offended if you rightly vote with your feet though, I’m sure plenty of west ham fans will be doing the same at the new stadium when they realise how far away from the pitch they are even though the new stadium should secure our long term survival as a club.
    hope you have a safe journey down those who have to come south.

  14. Basically what west side is saying is…stop complaining! Do you think west ham as a club in general will mind if 1000 sunderland fans dnt turn up. I dnt think so! We are probably the 4-6th most expensive ticket in the country at any time…if u wana come down to london then pay london prices. We have to pay extortionate prices day in day out…its the capital city same anywere in the world. Im not being nasty but either put up (money) or shut up (mouth lol )

  15. Salut,

    Rest assured the last home game of the season has been a Cat A game for a fair few seasons now. It may indeed be a relegation decider for ourselves but it would still have been a Cat A game otherwise. Perhaps Gold and Sullivan are trying to make sure they flog the home tickets!!

    To be fair the club have made a number of games very affordable this season. The FA Cup and League Cup games at Upton Park were sold dirt cheap to both set of supporters. One of those games was against Man U and another N Forestt who brought over 5000 down.

    The penultimate home game, (Blackburn), they are once again doing under 16s for £1.

    Like I said you’re just unlucky you’re the last home game.

  16. Not that it helps but last game of the season for away fans should be priced on travel/importance not just if last game of season.

    It is a fair old trip for you lot to come down, which for you is prob a pre season friendly now for next year. Ok it very important to west ham, but that not your fault….and you would think a bit of the old common would be used, sadly something lacking a lot in modern times.

    Anyways good luck. COYI

  17. Nothing sinister in this pricing.

    For a good few seasons the The Category A games at West Ham have been, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Man U, Liverpool AND the LAST home game of the season. So this season you’ve drawn the short straw.

    I’ve just paid £55 for Chelsea away if it makes you feel any better.

  18. Hammer in peace.

    I can understand charging West Han fans top dollar as this game could determine which league we’ll be playing in next season.

    But it is steep to say the least.

    If it makes you feel any better, I’ve just shelled-out £55.50 for my Chelsea away ticket………..and the thought of lining their pockets does leave a bad taste in the mouth.

    I’m sure you’ll all be down in force as you always are.

    Utmost respect to Sunderland and Niall Quinn.

    Safe journey to all Mackems travelling down.

    All the best.

  19. All comments welcome whoever you support and even if you own a football cub in the East End of London. But if you have not posted before, expect your contribution to be delayed for anti-spam moderation.

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