Think Of A Number

GO ON. Think of a number. We are past season ticket D-Day and there is an ominous silence. No news is good news right? Errrrr. I’m not totally convinced about that.

My feeling is that had the football loving public of Greater Teesside responded in their replica shirted masses to the mouth-watering prospect of Alves banging in the goals with the bullets supplied by Harper, Digard and Emnes, or if the brilliant pocket money priced pulling power of the £95 ticket replaced Wii, Guitar Hero and having a crafty gasper behind the bikesheds in our youths’ affections then we would have heard all about it by now.
The official line is that the applications are still being processed because, of course, the ticket office has left all the envelopes unopened between May and Saturday’s final call. And then, there are still the ones to count from last week when Keith Lamb issued his final rallying cry in finest Doggy Market costermonger style: “roll up, roll up, three new faces by next week,” thus making himself a hostage to fortune in the way Gibbo did with his “spectacular signings” line.
To be honest I really don’t know. Generally the trend is slowly downwards and most seasons you can guesstimate to within less than a thousand how many season tickets will be sold but this summer has seen a lot of mixed messages from the market and I am struggling to come up with a figure I am confident about. My best guess is 18,000 or thereabouts but even then I have a dark fear that such a number may be hopelessly optimistic.
The club have done what they think they can on pricing. While we can argue till we are blue in the face it is overpriced as a product, Boro will point out that after three years of price freezes it is relatively cheap for the Premiership and besides at the full priced adult end of the crowd demographic where the drift has been most marked I am not sure that cost is even the most pressing issue. Anecdotal evidence suggests a lot of committed long-time fans in that group are calling it a day for a whole host of non-football related issues, at least not ones that can be solved with a few signings.
They are bored, frustrated with an uncompetitive league, overpaid diving mediocre millionaires and the entire super soaraway Sky Sports experience. Their friends have drifted away and now they are sat next to people they have little in common with in a stadium that only rarely hits the atmospheric heights of the Holgate and most often is either shrouded in sullen silence or consumed by griping and sniping and a general air of grumpy whinging from people who demand to much but contribute little but bile. They feel increasingly estranged from the club, passive customers rather than active participants. And many season ticket holders wonder whether they are valued, especially those who felt wounded by the double-edged sword being waved around by the chief executive during last year’s renewals brinkmanship. Their universe, and their position in it, has changed and a lot of old timers are reassessing whether they want to be part of it. Lopping a quid off won’t change all that.
Yet for a crucial section price IS an issue. The credit crunch is taking grip. Mortgage payments, utility bills and household costs are nudging up and petrol costs soaring while the icy fears of wider recession and a return if the spectre of unemployment are looming in the background not to mention the prospect of a Tory government and for many Teessiders who were affected by the darkest days of Thatcherism and its devastating impact on the Northern economy that will be stabbing away urgently at panic buttons deep within the pysche. A storm is coming and when it is a question of pruning costs in readiness as many are – I know we are – then the expensive hobby of football becomes one that is ever harder to justify in a family budget, especially when it comes with related expenditure of beer and bovril and transport.
There is also a section where football is the issue. I have been told by a string of people that they have not renewed because despite the glorious last day 8-1 battering of Svenchester there have been far too many drab, disappointing home games. Yes, there were good displays against Arsenal and Manchester United but for many the most marked memories are those of the lack-lustre wading in treacle of games against Reading and Bolton.
And worse still, there is still a simmering anger at the catastrophic FA Cup no-show against Cardiff, a game that will live in infamy as one of the biggest missed sitters in Boro’s history. The mere mention of the game can bring some quickly back to the boil.
Set against that is the neat footwork of the other end of the demographic on the kids pricing. The fiver a game unaccompanied ticket deserves massive praise, perhaps more than the club have had. The slow limp towards a fat and fifty crowd, crusty and gray and increasingly cynical in outlook had to be halted. The season ticket sell-out strait-jacket had squeezed out a generation of supporters, maybe two generations. The crowd was suffering from an on-going process of middle age spread and Meldrewisation we have covered before.
The essential new blood of teenagers making their rite of passage, going to the game mob-handed to be passionate, rowdy and unrestrained by parental bums on adjacent seats can be a vital life-saving transfusion for the club. The groups of lads from the estates – the raw material that Gibbo and Mogga and most of us on here were hewn from – were priced out and frozen out. It was essential that the club took urgent action to address that.
I hope and pray that ten thousand teenagers take up the fiver-a-game offer and that the Riverside becomes a seething cauldron of barely restrained and sharply focussed playground passion. I want the ground to be all testosterone and achingly hip fashion, to be street sharp chanting and that the club and the rest of the crowd learn to harness that emotion and turn it into a new cultural revolution that can give Boro the tangible edge and unstoppable drive it had in the immediate post-Riverside and Juninho years.
I hope for that – but as yet I don’t know personally anyone who has signed up to the new Red Cadets. Maybe that is just me. I don’t hang out with teenagers and most of my friends and peers have children still too young to be given the freedom to roam unaccompanied.
All inquiries as to sales figures have been met by noncommittal generic responses but the numbers will soon be out, for good or ill. As I say, my best guess is 18,000, with a lot of kids making up the gaps left by an accelerating rate of desertion in the 40-50 age group. What do you think? How many season tickets have we sold? And how many can we add if we get a good start of make a few key signing? How low can the crowd dip this term if we don’t? Will the 20,000 barrier be broken in the league?


33 thoughts on “Think Of A Number

  1. Vic me boy, some valid points that would see many of my generation nodding in agreement.
    “The lads from the estates” will never return until this particular football culture bubble bursts it’s seems.
    I lived and travelled the Country with all its abhorrant violence throughout the seventies and eighties – did not partake readers, and do not accept this as a condonement of it – but the all seater stadia rule needs ripping up like all me bettings slips from the Euro’s.
    From my Boys End graduation to the Shawshanksesque first tier of The Holgate, rising through the ranks to 3rd STANDING row from the back, you would get the same faces for years on end, standing along side you boing boi’ing and EIOing for Boro!!
    You had to be in the Holgate just after 1pm on a Saturday to guarantee your pitch, and the singing would be non-stop from that moment on, and I mean “seething, swaying masses of people”
    You can’t even stand up to tuck your shirt in now before an over zealous picket tells you to sit down. This is supposed to be an emotional event. Sorry, even though I’ve renewed me season ticket, there is no wonderment in the Riverside for me, no anticipation, it’s like a neccesary task.
    Bring back standing !!!
    PS: stop looking like me uncle Alfie, it’s quite unnerving
    Up the Bank!

  2. I’ve renewed, as I will every time I can, money permitting. £95 pounds for under 18’s is a brilliant price and hence there is no excuse for an overall downturn in ticket sales.

  3. I honestly don’t know. It’s a pretty small sample but everyone I know who has one has renewed. I even know someone who has bought the three-season + plaque ticket.
    I’m not sure the club could have done much more, bar cut the prices to silly levels.

  4. Last year we kicked off with just over 19000 ST’s. I personally cannot see non renewals exceeding 25%. If I’m right we could be down to 14000-15000 renewals.
    If they dont sell under 18 tickets at £95 to make up for the shortfall then I fear for the future of the game not just Boro. If teenagers do not want to go for a fiver then I’d be very surprised .
    I think we’ll kick off with the same as last year – just under 20000.

  5. I think we will get approx 19K ST holders.
    Forever Dormo – I think if its a nice sunny day we will get 30k against proxy glamour club Spurs. They will sell out their end
    Is Digard really French? Was his interview translated by Teesside Tommy?
    Did he really say “I am going mad. This club is doing my head in. I can’t stay.â€?
    C’Mon Boro!

  6. People want to be entertained. People want to see quality, attacking football. People want to see a never say day fighting and wining spirit that sees the opposition never take a win against us for granted.
    No one expects miracles or to always be in Europe or to always make the latter stages of every cup competition, but people do demand that we don’t fall below a certain level, which I think that we have under the present management team.
    What people don’t want to see is a side that bottles it or a side that loses more often than it should against teams that we should be beating more often than not, especially when we seem to be able to do much, much better against the so called ” big four “.
    I’m sure that fans have stayed away and that they continue to dwindle because they feel that they haven’t had that for some time and that since Eindhoven the club has declined ( regardless by how much ) instead of improved.
    People want to see progress.
    Obviously the credit crunch and trends play there part, but at the end of the day I think that most of those who haven’t stayed on board would come back regardless if they felt and saw a bit of magic eminating from the club, Juni ” Samba ” style.
    This is make or break for GS and his team, regardless of his contract or of what Mr Gibson sees fit to impose on us.
    GS said that he was building for this season. Well, OK, lets see it. But if we are to have a repeat of the last two seasons under him then he will surely have to go. I really can’t see the majority of fans backing him any longer.
    My hopes are that we hit the ground running from the very start of the season, even if we then hit a dip, to then recover and kick on to be there or there abouts for a European spot.
    Either that or that we do do absolutely garbage so that we have a swift change of manager and management team.
    What I don’t want to see is another season like the last one whereby we just scrape out of the relegation zone at the last minute as in this scenario it just means we are still just drifting along and going nowhere fast.
    I think Alves will prove to be a fantastic asset, that Downing will kick on after what Capello said of him and that we have plenty of other positives in the likes of Wheater e.t.c.
    I also think that we will get a few quality signings that will improve the team even more. When doesn’t matter to me as long as they come.
    My biggest concern is the keeper situation and the overtly public show of faith that GS has put in the two we have. Personally, if we don’t get in a new number one I think we’ve had it as I just don’t see a quality keeper in what we have. Let’s hope I’m wrong…
    So, all in all I’m quite optimistic about the coming season. My only doubt is GS and CC and I look forward to being proved totally and utterly wrong. I’ve never thought that they were the right choice and have yet to be proven otherwise. But here’s hoping.
    Roll on the start of the season…

  7. AV- you missed one other factor and that is the broadcasting of home matches live in pubs and clubs in the area.I believe this is costing the club heavily.
    Last year was not great as a whole and the Cardiff match alone was very damaging. As of yet we have signed nobody. If I’m right and the figure is approaching 20000 then in all the circumstances this is respectable.
    Some of those who have not renewed will jack it in completely, others will pick and choose. It’s up to the players to produce on the field. Ultimately this is the only thing that will dispel the negativity and attract more paying customers.

  8. AV wrote: “while the icy fears of wider recession and a return if the spectre of unemployment are looming in the background not to mention the prospect of a Tory government and for many Teessiders who were affected by the darkest days of Thatcherism and its devastating impact on the Northern economy that will be stabbing away urgently at panic buttons deep within the pysche.”
    Lest we forget it is Mrs T that we have to (indirectly) thank for the Riverside Stadium, AV! Her horror tour of Thornaby and the whole derelict, decaying dockside led her to give the nod for the thing that became the Teesside Development Corporation, a quango charged with knocking the whole area around the river back into some kind of shape.
    PS Why hasn’t GS enquired abut signing that Dutch midfielder Engelaar from wherever he’s playing? He a) cut the mustard at Euro 08 and b) is an absolute monster!

  9. Some interesting and vaild points there AV and it does look like the trend is downwards.
    But, I wonder if there is any connection between the failure of Boro to announce their season tickets sales and the statement released by PSG saying the Digard deal is being delayed because Boro have failed to supply the necessary bank guarantees for the transfer fee.
    Because of the credit crunch and the subsequent reluctance of banks to increase their liabilities are Boro withholding the potentially lower season ticket sales in order to protect their overdraft facility?
    So it’s looking like we will definitely get the team we can afford if this is the case and the wage bill is going to look easier on the eye if ‘younger’ less ‘spectacular’ talent is brought in.
    On the general theme of season ticket renewals
    People are going to fall into 3 camps:
    1. I will always renew because I want to go to every game and support my club
    2. I need a reason to commit myself to going to every game and I can still watch some of the game in the pub and save a few quid.
    3. I’ve had enough of the product on offer and can’t see things drastically improving this season and I can still watch some of the game in the pub or go to see the big games on the day.
    Personally, I think perhaps the concept of the season ticket is becoming a bit outdated and only really appeals to ‘Group 1’ and a percentage of ‘Group 2’ in order to save a bit of money – after all lowering the price of the ticket doesn’t reduce the other costs of match day like travel, food and merchandise.
    I believe John Powls has the solution when he says setting up a Boro Supporters Trust will allow all fans to feel part of the club and ultimately allow the club to offer discounts back to the fans through not only tickets but other fan related products and merchandise.
    **AV writes: I think buying season tickets must become more than just a financial relationship, it must be a token of something more, initially maybe a loyalty scheme with far reaching benefits but ideally evolving into a ‘membership’ scheme on the Barcelona model where fans have an active role in the political and cultural life of the club.

  10. I’d say about 18500 ST sold and most of them will have come after the man city game.
    Boro need to scrap or delay the deadline date, especially after European Championships & World Cups.
    A lot of fans want to see who we sign/sell before renewing and everyone knows that when something is happening n the summer, all the transfer activity happens after it as clubs look for a bargain or the next big thing who impresses at these tournaments. So as activity on transfers is delayed then so should ST deadlines.
    Another reason ST sales will be down is people dont feel value for money and know that they can pretty much pick and choose their games.
    If you want a season ticket then sometimes the best option as of late has been to get one at xmas when they are reduced as sometimes you tend to get a few games either free or reduced on normal match day prices. Also we tend to get the bigger clubs at home in the later months so also get to see them.
    Personally I feel that if we really want a sellout then Boro should dramatically reduce the prices, maybe say knock £100 of each ticket e.g (i dont no actually prices) a ticket of £350 would cost £250. A lot more people would take up these prices and rather than have say 23000 at a game, at them prices I think you would be looking at 28-31000 at the games every week.
    Ok the club would be taking a loss on he ST prices but alongside the £95 tickets they would find a lot more families might find it affordable therefore not only breeding the fans of the future (kids at £95 tickets) they get the parents there spending more on food, drinks and merchandise.
    Also maybe a further discount for long term season ticket holders say something daft like hold if for five years and get the sixth year at half price for loyalty.
    Maybe even offering free coaches to all away games would get the fans coming in, a good away result on a free coach would get people talking and make them interested in going to the next home game, tell a friend, they tell a friend etc and a few more tickets are sold.

  11. I think the ST base will hold. The faint hearts and wobblers and post-Juninho bandwagoners have gone over the past few years, McClaren saw most of them off.
    I think we will get a lot taking up the kids tickets but not all new ST. A few of my mates have got kids already with ST who are just getting the new cheap ones and a few have one older kid wrapping in but a younger one starting on the 95ers. So that won’t add much to the bottom line for numbers.
    So I think we will hold at around 20k ST – but I think the walk up has all but gone now. That is where we are losing. The casuals. They don’t get discounts. They are not the sort to come along to see Wigan so cut price tickets for those kind of games won’t work and they wont pay top whack to see Man U or Arsenal because those games are on the telly.
    So whatever our ST figure is the average crowd won’t be be much more than that plus whatever the away team bring. Sad. And short of winning a lot of games at home and giving the top half a real crack I can’t see what the club can do.

  12. Very good article. Some good responses but I just wonder what is significantly different between us and other Premiership Clubs?
    Tottenham who had, possibly, higher expectations than us had a poor league season with all the same problems and issues as Boro fans,. Why do we seem to be in free fall? Unlike them.
    **AV writes: Do we seem to be in free fall? I think it is partly Boro’s fanbase contracting back to natural levels after the fashionable boom years of the new Riverside and new age of golden possibility and partly the cost base of the game as a whole pricing itself beyond the pockets of the low wage economy in Teesside.
    The problem is how do we best manage that change. I think the turn to youth is the right way but believe that a much more pro-active PR campaign is needed to sell this as a positive cultural step rather than letting it appear as some kind of kneejerk crisis reaction.

  13. Without having access to the real data, we’re left having to make estimates. So, trying to put season ticket renewals and receipts into some kind of perspective:
    Likely Range of Season Ticket sales: 17000 – 24000
    Likely Range of Average Prices: £250 – £400
    Likely Range of season ticket income: £4.25M – £9.6M
    I don’t know exactly how much the income is from other sources, but the numbers I’ve heard bandied around for club share of TV income dwarves the above by an order of magnitude.
    Trying to put some kind of perspective on Season Ticket income and how the range of possible incomes from that source is likely to impact on Boro’s finances and ability to compete, I thought I’d expand the analysis a little.
    So, how many players’ wages will this Season Ticket income support?
    Let’s say players are paid for a 40-week season:
    At £10K/week, 1 player costs £0.4M. Season ticket income supports 10 – 24 players.
    At £30K/week, 1 player costs £1.2M. Season ticket income supports 3 – 8 players.
    An alternative view is that season ticket income may support the purchase of 1-2 Didier Digards or 0.3 – 0.75 Afonso Alveses.
    So, the point I’m attempting to illustrate is that a few thousand season ticket sales isn’t, in itself, really critical to the financial performance of the club when the main income stream is from TV rights.
    A spread of say 3000 season tickets at an average of perhaps £300 would represent a £0.9M spread of income.
    Whilst the club would undoubtedly prefer the higher figure, the marginal difference is hardly “make or breakâ€? when compared to other income streams – especially if some of this is made up by “walk-upâ€? sale of selective matchday tickets, which a good start to the season and decent home performances will help inflate.
    From a club business perspective therefore, a few thousand season ticket no-shows is likely to be financially “tolerableâ€?.
    However, from a fan matchday experience perspective, the crowd atmosphere is hugely important and contributes to the individual “Was it value for money?â€? question, which leads onto the following year’s psychological renewal struggle – which, it appears, increasing numbers are deciding to give up, as evidenced by the long-term downward trend (which was temporarily stemmed by the McClaren years! Oh, yes it was! Look it up!)
    So, whilst the season ticket renewal trend is down and the income from full-price adult tickets cannot be fully replaced by the reduced price concessions for “tomorrow’s red armyâ€?, perhaps the attendance of an increased number of uninhibited vocal youths will liven the atmosphere and help reverse the trend by improving the quality of the crowd response, thereby addressing one of the issues which is a cornerstone of the traditional matchday experience.
    At the risk of perhaps sounding like a Meldrew on Prozac, my personal view is that we’re merely tinkering at the edges.
    The game has been transformed. I believe that the deserters are, first and foremost, sick of the vulgarity of the financial sums that have transformed it from sport to international big-business and into a gravy train for those inside it.
    Secondly, there are those who are happy enough to take their “fixâ€? via the telecommunications medium which has been instrumental in its transformation. (TV is not responsible – people are!)
    The modern game is increasingly less associative with the traditional values which made it historically popular across a wide spectrum of our society. The drift away by such a demographically-defined support is the result.
    Time will tell. But just like the bubble that was the recent inflated Western economy, fuelled and milked by credit risk takers and speculators, the game is likely, at some point along the way, to be shaken up and reformed.
    Perhaps then, some of the values that made it as popular in the past and some sense of fairness or justice may be restored. Maybe then the game will be returned to the people, instead of being used as a vehicle for the headlong pursuit of the relentless wealth accumulation by a few and the resulting distortion of civilising values.
    Woo-hoo! Hark at me!

  14. Tonyblack says ‘we’ want to be entertained. I don’t want to be entertained, I want to see us win. 19 scrappy, dour one-nil wins at home will do very nicely, thank you.
    For me, entertainment = winning.
    **AV writes: Champagne cyber corks pop, fireworks explode and cheers go up. Congratulations Phil, you have just posted this blog’s 10,000th comment!

  15. It should have been me! I tried to post earlier but it wouldn’t let me. Its a fix.
    Just to say that on the fmttm board they are saying it is the same number as this year. Not sure if that is same number as thi stime last year or same as the final total (21k).
    I think if we have the same then that is good. Hope there are thousands of kids there making a racket but hope that they don’t get too rowdy and start any chew off the bouncers.
    **AV writes: There were a few problems with the system earlier until one of the IT crowd ‘IT the server with a hammer. Maybe Phil will give you a swig of his champers.

  16. **AV writes: There were a few problems with the system earlier until one of the IT crowd ‘IT the server with a hammer. Maybe Phil will give you a swig of his champers.
    yerjokinarentya. mine, all mine!
    And if we have sold the same as last year – I’d be pretty happy with that as well. With scope for improvement before the season starts as well.

  17. I think Ste Mac and I should be demanding a recount!
    It’s nothing to do with the champagne of course. It’s the glory and the fame! As Ste Mac said- “It should have been me (too)!” And I don’t care what Tony Black, John Powls, Ian Gill, Redcar Red, Stockton Red, Jarko, Nigel or any one else says. It was mine and I’ve been robbed!
    I wanted it so, so badly! It’s all I ever lived for! It’s my dream! All I’ve ever cared about. It’s kept me awake nights!
    Oh! – to be a such a significant statistic!
    What more could a Boro supporter wish for?
    Oh, and “Congratulations!” BoroPhil. (Hope it chokes!)
    **AV writes: It’s the taking part….

  18. I agree with most of what has been said about modern football… it doesn’t really do it for me, sorry.
    I have been watching the Boro since 1988 so i have seen dark times and good times, I’ve had season tickets in the Holgate and the new North Stand.
    As crazy as it sounds I would “love it” if we could go back to 88 standing in the Holgate, getting a “squeeze” to get in and getting crushed against the barrier when we scored and lets not forget taking a wee in the stinking toilets made out of a clay pipe cut in half….ahhh great days.
    I have renewed my season ticket in the North Stand but I am not really looking forward as yet to the new season and no matter what I will continue to renew it but I would love the atmosphere to get better.
    Last season I stood up to sing “you are my Boro” and the bloke behind me told me to sit down….mmmm, so where can i sing??? Church maybe?
    So come on people lets get behind the Boro and sing in the new season!!!

  19. I must admit I am in two minds about renewing my ticket this season but this is not for football reasons, its purely based on the expense.
    Not the actual ticket price because compared to a lot of Premier League clubs they are reasonable, but for me its the fuel. I’ve had my ticket for the past eight seasons but live in Chester so it would cost me £50 to go to every home game.

  20. BoroPhil, can’t agree with you more a win is a win, it’s better than watching your team get beat 4-3.
    Does having a big crowd mean you are a big club like those up the road. You get big crowd’s when the big boy’s come but if they want to watch them week in week out just turn on Sky.
    AV, 10k down only another 990,000 to for the big one, keep up the good work – and the tea.

  21. Richard
    “The game has been transformed. I believe that the deserters are, first and foremost, sick of the vulgarity of the financial sums that have transformed it from sport to international big-business and into a gravy train for those inside it.”
    Mmmm, maybe – but that doesn’t appear to apply to the “big 4”, or Spurs, Everton, Villa, Toon, West Ham or the Mackems, does it?
    And clearly, with some of that lot, it’s not just about success and winning games, is it? I mean, your average Geordie sees about 3 wins a season ….. and your average Mackem about 3 goals. There must be just as much unemployment and financial hardship in Sunland. So how much of a Teesside factor is there involved here?
    Is it something in the local air and psyche – the usual Boro whingers? Or should we compare ourselves with Bolton – relatively small catchment area, poor football, no goals, scraping along just above the drop zone – is that why our crowds are down? I honestly don’t know. Can you do us a PhD thesis on this, AV?
    Tony Black – welcome back, mate. I’ve renewed my season ticket. Have you?
    **AV writes: I think one aspect of sustaining/growing a crowd is the hope and expectations for the coming campaign and the clubs you mentioned – Everton, Spurs, West Ham, Sunderland, Newcastle – had spent heavily, had new managers or been promoted and genuinely had the belief that the coming season would be better.
    That makes people willing to make sacrifices and invest in the dream because if something is to happen then they sure as hell want to be part of it.
    One problem at Boro seems to be that a certain section of the fans (and maybe an even bigger section of the non-match going wider public) believe that Boro have gone as far as they can, that they peaked at Eindhoven (or in the semi-final at least) and that the club are actively in decline. They think next year will be worst.
    Changing those perceptions and creating a buzz again may be a bigger challenge than pricing for Boro.

  22. Richard, on your quote you say:
    ‘Likely Range of season ticket income: £4.25M – £9.6M’
    So if you go at your top range, that means for approx £5M we could get Viduka back for a year to solve our scoring problem, hell we may aswell spend the rest but Im not sure if it’s enough to temp Zenden back to sort out the attacking midfield problem ;0)
    Gray, do you care to elaborate on why you think we are the worst fans in the country? as I feel we are far from it.
    Captain Sensible, you cant compare us to Spurs, the simple reason they get the fans is because the average wage is ment to be about £23k down there where as its only ment to be about £14k up here. However the season ticket prices are roughly about the same price so when you have an extra £9k to spend its easier to justify purchasing a ST.
    Times are hard, wages are low and people are sick of feeling let down or ripped off as they arent getting value for money on the pitch. These players can earn our annual wage in a few weeks if not a week for most of them. Yet they dont, to the fans, justify the wage that we are helping to subsidising by buying ST’s.
    We want to see more effort on the pitch, we want emotion, people are calling for Cattermole to be put in the team, based on the way he was against Villa a few season ago yes, but now a lot of peopel feel he is just wasting his talent and is more prepared to pick up his wages than go back to the local lad who gave his all.
    I dont want to victimise just one player, however he is an example of people being over payed and not delivering. Arca not the same player when he came back, why, whats changed, your still paid to play at the top of your game every week so why didnt he in the latter part of the season?
    Again Im not wanting to victimise players but when they dont give their all the fans see it and it drives them away. If the players dont put the effort in then the fans start to do the same by not putting the effort in to turn up to games.
    I said bad about two players there so i will say good about a few, McMahon & Bates, they dont play, they get injured a lot but rather than just give up they put the effort in to try and regain full fitness and seem as tho they want it & want to play (especially bates who is willing to go on loan to gain the relevant experiences so that when called upon he is ready to make the step up, unlucky that he got his injury his way tho) but at least they seem like they are trying.
    Downing 9 or 10 goals this season, he is improving year on year, we need to keep him as he is genuinly one of the best left wingers out there (if he wasnt then the links with liverpool wouldnt happen).
    He will set up plenty of chances again this year, only difference being is we have a natural scorer like Alves who will hopefully finish them for us. I also hope Mido is back in shape and willing to give his all and prove people wrong this year.

  23. Richard
    If my memory serves me right, I was the 1,000th person to post on this blog and received the same congratulations then.
    Where were you lot when the cyber stands were empty. When we would log in and ask when the next thread started and AV would reply when can you post.
    There again it may have been someone else who was number 1,000. I cant remember who was number 1.
    **AV writes: Mr Powls was the first. It was lonely back then, just me and him chatting over a cyber-pint. Now we have an average of over 15,000 unique IP addresses dipping in every week – that’s users rather than page impressions – from Teesside and all around the world.
    And I like to think that the 15,000 plus core audience is the most articulate, best informed and of course best looking strata of the population on Planet Boro.
    Should I reproduce the first post and reply to see how far we have come and if JP and myself have changed much?

  24. If Boro were to embark on a membership scheme along the lines of the Barcelona model as you suggested AV, then how do you think it would come about?
    Do we need to lobby Steve Gibson and persuade him that this is the best model to take the club forward?
    Or would the club see it as fans trying to take over the running of the club by them ultimately wanting to elect the club executives and would see giving fans a role in decision making leading to an increase in short-termism? (I didn’t hear many people who were willing to give Southgate as much time as SG to get it right).
    But given the ever-decreasing percentage that ticket revenue contributes to a club’s income, then it’s going to need a scheme along these lines to re-address the balance of ‘ownership’ that fans feel for their team – Or maybe the independent Trust model suggested by John Powls would have a greater chance of coming into existance.
    Anyway, it’s probably not far from the point now where the difference between managing to attract all the potential ‘missing’ fans or not has very little financial impact on the running of the club (perhaps an overpaid player’s wage or two).
    However, a downward trend in attendance will feed itself and will cause a bigger impact on the ability of the club to attract the players it needs to compete – after all, a player would be less inclined to play in a half-empty stadium with no atmosphere given the choice.
    So the warning bells should be ringing loud and clear as each year there are always a couple of clubs being bought or invested in, ready to take our place in the Premier League.
    I think that Boro should be pitching their prices to ensure the ground is full each week and not get too bogged down on whether season ticket sales are either up or down

  25. Should have known JP would have been the first blogger.
    But have the pair of you changed? Dont think so. We have been prattling on about various mishaps as MFC tried to divorce itself from Boro.
    If we go back pre Untypical Boro the themes were much as they are now, I even remember email discussion with AV about ticketing, marketing, databases and communications.
    The current thread is really a remix of issues that have arisen over the seasons.
    Will progress be made to make MFC and Boro one and the same or at least partners in the way forward. There is certainly a will from one of the parties, one suspects there is a filing cabinet hidden away somewhere clearly marked ‘Not invented here’.
    I suppose one could describe AV and Powls as Scully and Mulder, or maybe Stadtler and Waldorf but JP has already used that moniker for the pair of us. No, I will go for Nicky Campbell and Victor Meldrew.

  26. Interesting posting and responses. But why is it that so many ‘supporters’seem to act as though they are doing the Boro a favour by attending games?
    The club has lacked somewhat over the years with regard to PR, but seem to be accepting of this more now and I would guess such a criticism could be made at almost any club. I can recall the barcodes charging not only for season tickets, but for the privilage of being able to buy one.
    Generally, supporters ar treated with disdain by clubs,the FA, premier league executive and players, who to a man have no loyalty to the fans or indeed their clubs.
    But it’s how it is and unless we all stop attending or watching on Sky etc, in other words speak with our feet, then it aint going to change.
    Within this context, Boro are no worse than many other clubs and better than most, in large part because of SG.
    How far is Holland from here, they tell me FC Twente are going to be worth a look.

  27. Spot on JP, sitting on information just makes it worse.
    The actual numbers wont affect sales of tickets to any great extent nor will it affect the number of matches I attend. I never had a season ticket and and dont intend to get one. If I lived on Teesside or close I would probably have got one once the Boro moved to the Riverside.
    The story is not the numbers of tickets, it is not revealing them that creates momentum. If the number becomes apparent when Boro run out against Spurs and it is two thirds full that will be a story because we will have Lineker and Lawro smirking on MOTD.
    In an email to John Powls I likened the current situation to where there has been a major drought or major leakage or repair work at a reservoir. Once the major leakage has been stopped it takes a long time to refill.
    That is the situation the club have reached, they are making efforts to stop the bleeding away of fans that has occurred for a number of reasons, once that is stabilised then they can try to rebuild the fan base.
    Not revealing the figures wont change the numbers, it just makes it harder to find the right time to release them without getting egg on the face.

  28. Ian Gill it is possible that the information is not yet available although no doubt the club would be able to hazard a guess.
    The reason I say this is that they always process straight renewals first. Then they deal with ST holders who want to move. They then deal with new applicants. As they have only had four working days since the deadline I suspect they are still processing the applications.
    Whether good or bad the information will come out in the next 2-3 weeks I’m sure.

  29. Forever Dormo
    I suffer from the same problem, premature blogging! Also sometimes I type in an absolute masterpiece only to get someting about clog role vertical and templates, I have to retype the whole thing or not bother. It never reads as well when redone.
    I keep telling myself to type it in a word document and then paste it into the blog but forget.
    Cyber champagne, a bit like virtual season ticket numbers and pre season signings. Never seem to arrive.

  30. After having a season ticket solidly since 1988 and before liquidation since 1965, I’d like to offer a slightly different view.
    Lowering ST prices, more entertaining football, cheap ST’s for kids (although a great idea), I think we may be missing the real point here.
    First we don’t have the catchment area and therefore fan base of the two up the road or the big city clubs.
    Second we have always been ‘unfashionable Middlesbrough’ and always will be no matter what we do. Remember the 3 points? Well for me that was as much a slap on the wrist to ‘get back in your box’ from footballs heirarchy as anything else, or am I being paranoid?
    Third we as fans don’t seem to have the belief that we can achieve what other clubs do, we seem to give in too early.
    Put this together and we have the Middlesbrough malaise, a feeling of apathy and an ‘Oh well there’s nothing we can do about it’ attitude that spreads onto the pitch.
    Steve Gibson has worked wonders and what we have achieved with cup finals and the League Cup win is truly remarkable for a club like Boro.
    For me even though the Juninho/Ravanelli/Emerson era is long gone, we are still in the good times. 13 years out of the last 14 in the Premier League, often beating top teams, good cup runs, good times indeed.
    We had a similar situation in the 70’s with eight seasons in the top flight and after the novelty of going up wore off, crowds dipped and the inevitable relegation came around in 1982.
    We as fans have to ask ourselves, do we want a premiership football club. God do I sound like Keith Lamb?
    But maybe he has a point. To maintain a premiership club, push up the league, have cup runs that offer a real chance of maybe actually winning another final, we have to do our bit in greater numbers, and that means putting ourselves out and buying season tickets.
    Picking games, watching it in the pub won’t do it. It’ll end up where we won’t even be on in the pub.
    I know lots of people who’ve given up their red books and their reasons on examination don’t add up. Unless people genuinely can’t afford them my view is just get out there and buy ST’s. We NEED 30,000 plus every week to create an atmosphere that will intimidate the opposition.
    That’s the part we as fans must play to keep us going at this level. Steve Gibson’s doing his bit so we must do ours.
    Mal from Ingleby
    **AV writes: “…or am I being paranoid?”. The regulars on here refer to that feeling as “Boronoia”.

  31. In ‘Mal Wrote’
    Thanks AV for reminding me about Boronoia. I have to admit I did know this but having just got back from Silverstone my head’s not fully back on yet.
    Mal from Ingleby

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