Tickets: Time To Bite The Bullet?

IT’S time to break the tyranny of the season ticket and radically reshuffle the Riverside.
Boro need to bite the bullet on tickets, stop punative pricing of casual fans and look at a sweeping range of creative offers to put bums on seats – and to do that they may need to risk upsetting the stalwarts.
The Riverside hit a new low of 13,377 against Derby last week – and anyone who was there knew that in reality it was lower than that. It was a chilling view of the future.

With gates dwindling there is a pressing need to address the pricing structure and introduce imaginative incentives before the club slips into renewed financial jeopardy.
We all know the budget has tightened around the jugular and hampered the rebuilding project on the pitch. And with the parachute payments ended, small screen windfalls increasingly rare and sponsorship and corporate income evaporating it, it leaves gate money as the single biggest component of Boro’s dwindling income.
And the season ticket cash has already spoken for. It’s earmarked for wages and running costs, scouting and science. Now, with next to no new cash coming through the gate Tony Mowbray’s freedom in the transfer market will be hampered. In the worst case scenario January could see the club sell rather than buy.
Chairman Steve Gibson continues to prop up the wage bill and running costs to the tune of almost £1m a months and has committed to fund the new look Category One Academy too – but with Football Financial Fair Play rules starting to kick in, his contribution is limited and it will be squeezed in the season’s to come. Things can only get tighter.
That leaves on-day ticket revenue as the only realistic income stream that can be effectively and quickly increased but that will take some imagination, some political will and a break from the hidebound perspectives of the past.
Boro have painted themselves into an historic corner on season tickets. It has been right and fair to reward loyalty and peg back the price for them over the years – at a shade under £17 a game in the North Stand it makes Boro one of the cheapest in the Championship. There are League Two clubs who charge more.
But the wide gulf between those prices and the matchday prices – which have not been insulated from inflation over the past six years – is the stumbling block. The walk-up price for adults is the problem. There are a limited number of tickets at £24 in the corners but for most who decide on the day the cheapest is £27 in the North Stand. But that is also the possible solution as it is a wide margin that gives the club room to manoeuvre
It is the massed ranks of 10,000 plus former Red Bookers, part-timers, lapsed loyalists, ex-pats, newbies and fair-weather fans that can save the day. They are the ones that if lured back will make the difference to the bottom line – and right now they are being charged over the odds for an unsold product. What other business operates like that?
That is where the club must target its pro-active pricing.
But the cultural power of the hardcore, a hangover from the top flight sell-out glory years, had brought problems too. Season ticket holders wield considerable political power.
Firstly, every concerted move towards concessions in the past has prompted complaints from a small but vocal group of slighted, short-sighted season ticket holders angry at the prospect of the “less loyal” getting something they are not.
But Boro can no longer afford to pander to that dissent. They have more to lose by not addressing the wider problem than from any backlash or threats of non-renewal. The noose is tightening and bringing in new money is vital if the club are to flourish.
That means Boro chiefs must persuade season ticket holders that one-off discounts or targeted initiatives or are for the good of the club as a whole and assure them that whatever schemes are put in place, and however much it looks like someone somewhere is getting in on any given day for less, the stalwarts will never be out of pocket overall.
And secondly, diehards welded into ‘their’ seats – sometimes just one or two dotted stubbornly across a couple of rows – have prevented Boro chiefs ear-marking whole blocks for radical pricing approaches. That has been an obstacle to thinking the unthinkable in order to deal with biggest problem after pricing.
The current configuration of the ground leaves festering acres of taunting red seats empty in areas key to generating any real atmosphere.
At present the ground is comatose for long spells with a background hum of edgy chuntering punctuated by peaks of Pavlovian booing. It is not a fun place to be. That must be urgently addressed. It is hard to sell it as a desirable ‘matchday experience.’
The all but moth-balled South Stand – which will be used this term only for the visit of Leeds and possibly in the outlandish event of a home cup draw against a Premier League side – must urgently be re-populated by passionate punters. Whatever it takes.
It may be that the Red Faction are moved there and their passions harnessed. Or a new junior or family section. Or it could be set aside for a changing menu of matchday offers. Or, whisper it, maybe the club could be brave and use it for an experiment in safe standing, well stewarded and members only? That would be radical.
The away fans should be the least of our worries. Most clubs rarely bring more than a cosy gathering – Derby are a big club but brought less than 300 – and they can easily be housed elsewhere, out of the way, to free up that wasted space. If it needs to be switched back if/when Boro are back in the Premier League that bridge can be crossed then.
Filling that end by hook or by crook could add to the matchday buzz and give the team some magnetic pull when attacking that goal and end the regular small screen blushes as the TV highlights show Boro playing behind closed doors.
As it stands that bleak vista as much as anything may be dissuading would-be casual fans from attending. It looks deserted. It is far from the pulsating atmosphere of myth, far from the electric atmosphere that as much as the match is the product. It makes you want to cry.
The situation can only get worse. Boro can’t sit on their hands waiting and hoping that promotion will save the day. Something must be done.
And just as it is time to bite the bullet on pro-active pricing, the time is also ripe to shake up the tired old seating plan, to cast off the mental strait-jacket of the Red Seat glory days.
We need to reconfigure the ground completely to help focus fans’ noise and passion, to engineer their energy and also so free up space for innovative ticketing – and that may mean crow-barring some long-time sitting tenants out of their precious pew.
It may be that the whole lower tier of the East Stand is cleared for use as a family enclosure, that the South Stand becomes a dedicated singing – or hush your mouth, standing – section, or those currently in the West Stand Corners are encouraged to migrate elsewhere (more visible) with those areas temporarily closed. I don’t know. But there should be no areas of limits to tinkering in order to make the stadium fit for purpose.
Boro must act on prices immediately and should look at a series of possible new seating plans now with a view to next season and be ready to defuse the inevitable dissent. It is no good springing it on people in the summer. That will explode in their faces and just give those that are wavering another excuse to walk away.
The club may need to break from sniffy old attitudes and go on a concerted charm offensive to win hearts and minds and convince the inevitable upsurge of angry and upset sitting tenants that whatever the inconvenience for some individuals, it is for the benefit of the club. So be it. No-one at heart would really object to long term benefits for Boro if they are treated with respect and given a bit of a psychic cuddle to smooth the way.
On pricing it will take a break from a institutionally defensive mentality at the club where any suggestion of change from outside has in the past been immediately knocked back without serious consideration. There is no room for the old knee-jerk responses that every suggestion is ‘impractical’ or ‘not cost effective,’ and sneering that we don’t understand the complexities of the mechanics or the market. We do. We are the market. We understand it only too well and any ideas generated stem not from point-scoring or criticism but from a sincere belief that things can be improved. And they can. No-one can argue that the current situation is desirable nor that nothing at all can be done.
It will take a brave step by the club to break away from a mentality where they are hostage to old certainties. Boro may need to take one bold step back to take two big ones forward.
Boro must find a new direction and bring in new blood and new cash immediately or risk drifting slowly towards a deeper crisis.
Whatever tack the club take on pricing, they must carry the fans with them. The current radio silence and inaction is harmful and unacceptable.
THERE ARE a bewildering range of possible pro-active pricing initiatives that Boro could adopt from other clubs and other industries.
The key is to make a ticket an attractive proposition, to respond to complex demands and to remove current obstacles to attendance without undermining the viability of the season-ticket. Wholesale price reduction is not a realistic option.
Here’s a few off the top of my head. I’m sure most readers could come up with more:
DYNAMIC PRICING: Derby have introduced flexible computerised pricing scheme – Sports and Entertainment Analytical Ticketing System (SEATS), acronym fans – that factors in quality of opposition, predicted weather, recent results and relative position in the tables to set matchday walk up costs based on estimated demand.
Under a similar set-up at Boro, Peterborough on a wet Tuesday in February could be priced at £10 but a sunny Saturday for the derby clash with Leeds may be £25 or more.
EXTENDED CONCESSIONS: Currently some age related discounts are limited to particular areas of the grounds. Why? It prevents people sitting with friends and family or forces them to move at landmark birthdays. Scrap it. Make it universal – and think about adding new concessions for students, the armed forces and extended family groups.
BOGOFS: Simple and effective and a universal practice throughout retail. Two home games in a week are heavy on the pocket for casual fans. After Leicester at home Derby was always a hard sell. Why not buy one, get one free?
LOSS LEADERS: Sorry Barnsley, Posh and Millwall but some games are just harder to sell. So why not tie them into sexier fixtures? Barnsley is the next game after Leeds… why not buy the biggie and get the Tykes for a tenner?
SEASON TICKET REBATES: Some fans give up season tickets because work means they miss a lot of games. Once outside the magic circle they face punative matchday pricing and many never return. Why not give existing ST holders facing regular fixture clashes a rebate, the notional cost of matches they can’t attend credited toward next term’s ticket? That would persuade them to stay on board and possibly lure back some who have drifted away.

: Some people want to commit on a long term basis but don’t know how many games they can get to. Or they can’t make midweeks. Why not let them pay up front on a pro-rata ST cost basis for 10 or 12 or more games at the start of the season to be used as and when. Given due notice obviously.
GROUP SEASON TICKETS: Aimed at pubs, clubs and workplaces where they can fill a matchday mini-bus. Tickets are not tied to individuals so if one or two people can’t go the group urge others to take their place, possibly luring them in as future full-timers. It reinforces group mentality and makes what can be a chore of going to the match on a Saturday – especially from the Teesside fringes – more enjoyable.
KID-A-QUID: Let season-ticket holders bring children for next to nothing, speeding up the indoctrination process. If the kids like it then it encourages the principal ticket holder to renew next year. It may mean moving to free up an empty seat or two.
SEASON TICKET HOLIDAYS: Let lapsed loyalists rejoin at any point without penalty or prejudice. Or those who have to leave for work or education. We want them back.
COMMUNITY TICKETING: Currently there are schemes for schools with cheap(ish) tickets for kids and parents. These could easily be expanded – and the price lowered considerably – with more schools, sports and interest groups plus community and residents association groups included. There is plenty of room for a designated area of 2,000 or so. It is a sound investment in the future.
MAKE US AN OFFER: Derby (again) have ticket office staff charged with dealing with the complexities of consumers and unravelling the problems potential customers – especially with families – face with the existing pricing structure and the frustration that “the computer says ‘no’ “. Rather than turning prospective fans away because they can’t find a package that suits, they try to tailor one.
**WHAT do you think about ticket pricing and possible special initiatives? How can Boro get the crowds back? What marketing, pricing and PR strategy will increase crowds and cash without alienating the season-ticket base?
**IN A TIMELY bit of context, the latest BBC Price of Football survey is out showing among other things, that ticket prices have gone up by FIVE times the rate of inflation over the past year. And some eye-watering prices in the top flight. You can see how Boro fit into the bigger picture here.
**AND MORE context: despite the alarming slump over the past three years (and especially the last three games) it should be pointed out that last season Boro gates were more or less at the historic average in division two. I should know, I spent the summer crunching the numbers on every season since the war. The blog about that and the discussion around it can be found here. If you want to cut to the chase and see the colourful ‘infographic’ (or bar chart as we called them), you can find that here.


147 thoughts on “Tickets: Time To Bite The Bullet?

  1. I forgot to look at the headlines and missed Juke being out. Is that the same injury that kept him out at the start of the season? I hope not because you would fear it would come back again.
    Part of the problem of starting the season not fully fit, always seems to be stop start after that. That of course is why so many loan players seem to struggle.
    It begs the question how many black cats Mogga has run over since August. Just have to keep juggling.

  2. What is startling is an apparent lack of imagination or pro-active approach by the club – but in reality ever it was thus!?!?!?

  3. As you say AV, an eight foot high steel fence does seem a bit over the top but if it guarantees the safety of fans then so be it.
    I was a regular attendee, both home and away in the 70’s and 80’s and there were times when I would have been glad of such a barrier.
    Unfortunately there are still grounds up and down the country where I would think twice about advertising my allegiance, Sunderland being one of them. Sad to say, but amongst opposition fans, The Riverside is also one.

  4. 200,000, AV? Fantastic. Just bloody fantastic!
    Can you do us an offer though? The 200,000th contributor gets a Boro half-season ticket, with flexibility on which games are attended? Just as a model for the future, maybe?!
    **AV writes: Remember when we used to give prizes away for the 100th post on every thread? The marketing budget is always first to go when times are tight.

  5. Unless we’re using a strange numbering system, then when I look at Dormo’s face I only see before it an ice-cream with a flake.
    108 Terry Murphy
    107 Ian Gill
    106 Ian Gill
    105 Forever Dormo
    104 Nigel Reeve
    103 Redcar Red
    102 Erimus11
    101 Andy R
    100 Andy R
    99 Forever Dormo
    **AV writes: I’ve looked back on the slo-mo and its still not conclusive. I had 98 on the counter and just counted out two. One for the dubious posts panel I think.

  6. I went to a Schalke match last season for my birthday treat and can confirm that it was a great day out.
    Another feature that I noticed was that there were plenty of neutral fans at the game. They were noticeable because they were wearing scarves of caps of other Bundesliga clubs and mingling and drinking in the (home) concourses. Not a hint of trouble at all, just ‘normal’ for them.
    The sight of about 20,000 Schalke fans standing safely behind one of the goals convinced me that this is what we in England should be doing. Now that Hillsborough is unravelling, the debate about safe standing areas should be reopened. I prefer to stand, I want to stand, I am not alone in this.
    Finally a flash back to the Holgate end. Looking down from the concourse 3rd floor I was surprised to see a row of about a dozen (male) fans peeing in the bushes. Reminded me of half time at Ayresome and the good soaking that the General Hospital wall used to get.
    Beer was everywhere, on sale at Gelsenkirchen Station, carried on to the train and on the approaches to the ground. All were having a great time but what goes in must come out.

  7. A few points on the numbers of posts:
    1. FD never claimed the 100th post on this thread. It was bestowed upon him by AV reminding us of that timeless Barry Davies quotation: “Look at his face, just look at his face!” (and we all know what that meant – the Official Adjudicator at 4.01pm seemed to be in no doubt).
    FD did have a quick glance towards the Assistant Referee, but there was no flag. The game resumed with a kick-off at the centre spot, with Andy R, Erimus11, Nigel Reeve, FD again, Ian Gill and Terry Murphy all having shots on goal before the matter was raised belatedly. Sorry mate, look in tomorrow’s newspaper for the result (as they say).
    2. Arguing with the ref is, of course, a bookable offence. The ref is always right.
    3. I’d love to disclaim the accolade but, with my disciplinary record, I’m not sure I could afford another yellow.
    4. The double click referred to by AV in his response to the 4.01pm post by the Official Adjudicator, and the failure to identify with certainty that the original decision was wrong, despite slo-mo repeats, shows how technology, whilst attractive as a proposition, may never be able to resolve all disputed decisions. (If it were, let’s disallow that Wembley World Cup Final goal in 1966 and, to bring things closer to Boro hearts let’s play an extra 30 minutes at Cardiff against Bolton for the double-kicked penalty, or the phantom Chesterfield goal at Old Trafford. No – better leave sleeping dogs lie!).
    5. An ice cream with a flake? If we’d had a summer that would have been a great idea. And would have lasted longer than those Trabants that were dished out willy-nilly when 100-post threads were commonplace on here. The world supply of two-stroke was diverted to Teesside for nearly a year.
    6. I would refer the Honourable Gentleman, and any others showing a particular interest in numeracy and similar concerns, to the post at 12.25am. I’d bet £1,000,000 that I’m not bothered about numbers. Wouldn’t mind a look around Caracas though.
    **AV writes: It reminds me of the Boro goal at Preston when Ledesma’s corner hit the far post and bounced down and in then in a cartoon scramble the ball was clawed out, fizzed about then first stabbed in by Bailey then toe-poked by Andy Halliday when it was already a foot over the line.
    All three peeled away claiming it and trying to gather the numerical support of team-mates to forge some kind of consensus. The BBC, Sky and the Echo gave the goal to Halliday, the Preston paper to Bailey and the Gazette and Boro website to Ledesma. Asked to clarify it afterwards Mogga said: “I’ll let them fight about it on the coach on the way home. All that it matters is that it went in and it counted.”

  8. It has been brought to the attention of the Dubious Post Panel of several 100 post attempts from the usual suspects. It is therefor the just and fair ruling of the DPP to remove from the record Post 100. Eroneous and off topic post just cannot be tolerated on this forum. This is Teesside afterall!
    New sanctions will be brought in to up hold the integrity of the board. Any poster mentioning Nottingham Forest in any sort of positive light will be excluded from the race for ‘post 200K’
    **AV writes: “TonGate” rumbles on. It could get juicy. I just need to find a creative ticket scheme to bring in the punters and increase my revenue streams.

  9. I have often thought there should be a season ticket available for the professional tipplers at their local pub.
    You know how it is – a wet Wednesday in February, dark outside and only a few hardy souls have braved the weather to get to the pub. Those intrepid drinkers help to keep the pub ticking over in difficult economic times.
    Yet when Christmas comes, and the next week or two to cover New Year, a crowd of people evidently come out of the woodwork and make their way to the pub. “A pint of your best foaming ale, Landlord, and a gin and tonic for my friend!” is the order given in a faux-bonhomie style – ignoring the fact that the real ale should not be served “foaming”.
    The regular drinker cannot get anywhere near the bar to get service because, at that particular time of the year, the bar is eight-deep with a crowd of braying idiots who all seem surprised that the price of a round of drinks is more than a fiver and “…no, the previous landlord stopped doing food over the Christmas period nine years ago”.
    A good landlord sees out of the corner of his eye his regulars arriving. An imperceptible nod, a wink, some acknowledgement. Nothing needs to be said. After serving the present customer and maybe one or two more standing at the bar for the sake of decency and good relations, depending on circumstances, the regular’s pint makes an appearance and, as the landlord’s arm reaches through the crowd to meet the grasping hand of the regular, the valuable cargo is transferred.
    The landlord then gets back to finding whether that bottle of Dubonnet opened last Christmas has survived the year because, surprise, surprise, someone has asked for that drink THIS year.
    Payment might be for two pints next time, when the rush has abated but at least the initial thirst has by then had its sharpness removed, and everyone is happy. The publican sells some liquid refreshment to people he won’t see for another year (which keeps the till busy) and the regular at least gets his drink without a 40 minute wait – although it might take that long to get anywhere near the lavatory because the queue snakes almost into the street outside.
    Pubs need their regulars because, without them, they wouldn’t survive the otherwise bleak expanse of November, or late January and February. There would be no pub left for the irregulars to visit on their rare holiday-time excursions to licensed premises.
    So, sometimes, the thought had occurred that maybe there should be a pub season ticket. The space at the bar, the “best seats”, could be reserved for the regulars without whom, as they say, all of this would be impossible.
    Newcomers would be welcome but, hey, sit over in the south-west or north-west corners – and don’t spend half an hour trying to count out the silver to see if you can pay for the drinks in coins; or getting people to stand up as you move into the middle of the row of seats before discovering this is row 27 not row 17, or that they have come into the wrong block – just hand over a note and let the next thirsty customer get his drink, too.
    If you don’t use it, you risk losing it. Keep the customer satisfied as Simon & Garfunkel used to sing. Look after your regulars whilst offering something to the chaps who only turn up at high days and holidays. The pub needs them both but the good publican finds a way of tactfully greeting his very occasional visitor whilst not annoying the regulars.
    Is there any reason why the same shouldn’t be possible with football clubs?

  10. Following a lengthy and expensive enquiry into the evidence of Postgate, the findings are as follows:
    1. AV claims he counted two posts from 98 with Forever Dormo being acclaimed as post 100.
    2. However, counting backwards from the last post (108) revealed Forever Dormo to be only Post 99
    So what went wrong? Well closer inspection of the slo-mo replay has revealed what actually happened between the following posts at 1:41 and 5:26
    Grove Hill wallah – October 14, 2012 1:41 PM
    Forever Dormo – October 14, 2012 5:26 PM
    Jarkko – October 14, 2012 5:13 PM
    Surprised that Grove Hill wallah has posted more during the past few hours than for months. New prices to hit the ton, AV?
    Up the Boro!
    To all intents and purposes, AV regarded this as Post 99 – Unfortunately, it was posted on the previous thread (Oh McDonald…), possibly in the panic of the ensuing goal-mouth scramble – schoolboy errors all round.
    I therefore award the 100 Post to Andy R – though Forever Dormo was not deemed to be at fault.
    **AV writes: Top post-match analysis of the new footage. And pretty conclusive too. It is good that someone is in control. Dormo, hand over the bubbley.

  11. Dear The Official Adjudicator,
    Many thanks for your investigation into Postgate.
    I would like to point out that at no point did I wheel away with one arm aloft in celebration. In the spirit of togetherness (bloggerhood?”) I accepted the original decision to award the wonderfully verbose and always entertaining FD and as such I feel it would be wrong to accept this accolade.
    I would therefore like to offer the trabant back to FD. Or perhaps we could raise it together in the way that is now customary among Premier League title winning captains and managers/talisman?
    Also, I became a father yesterday so I really couldn’t care less!!
    Best wishes,
    Andy R
    **AV writes: Congratulations. Maybe you should bring our youngest new blogger up the steps – in replica kit with the name “Daddy” across the back naturally – as you collect the prestigious gong.

  12. There may be some issue of awarding the gong retrospectively to Andy R.
    A lot depends on FIFA’s rulings regarding whether the Blogmeister saw the original offence or not. Once the gong was awarded then it is probably wrong to take it away and award it to Andy R.
    I have no axe to grind because I never try and sneak the 100th post in but it is a grey area. Maybe we need assistant blogmeisters by the posts who are miked up to the chief blogmeister as in Platini’s plans for goal mouth incidents.
    The Chief Adjudicator is right in pointing out how the possible error came about but is the decision correct to hand the gong over? Should there be a number of post deductions in which case we can argue that three would be sufficient or is 10 better?
    It may be Septic Bladder would argue that going back destroys the flow of the posts and would detract from the blog. The decision of the Blogmeister is final though it can be overturned in cases of mistaken identity.
    Tricky, how do we get Dormo to put something pale green and fizzy back in to the bottle?
    Maybe we need to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

  13. Well it seems Andy R was already celebrating regardless of the outcome of the Postgate ruling – and may I add my congratulations.
    However, it’s just as well he’s recently become a dad as I’m not sure what the long-term effects on potential fatherhood would be of attempting to lift a Trabant with Dormo – though it’s something I’d definitely pay money to watch!
    **AV writes: I’m just glad it has all be sorted out amicably between yourselves without resorting to bitching, huffing, flouncing, threats of litigation or unsavoury finger-pointing and calling into question the competence of the powers that be.

  14. We need goal line technology. I hate to see fellow bloggers arguing who was number 100 or 99. A bit like the Boro boys (Ledesma, Bailey and Halliday) were arguing the other day after a corner/goal.
    So I would like to suggest that a new blog technology is bought in. One that is counting the posts and showing the numbers automatically. We are not as old fashioned as FIFA and Evening Gazette have promised this new technology for the blog for months.
    2-2 draw at Brighton. Woodgate and Miller scoring. Up the Boro!

  15. Congratulations, Andy R. A new birth is somewhat more important that the number of posts on a Blog. I’d like to hand you the bottle of bubbly as AV suggests. But it’s empty now! Anyone collecting empty bottles?

  16. Jarkko at 2.30pm said “So I would like to suggest that a new blog technology is bought in. One that is counting the posts and showing the numbers automatically.”
    That would be no good I’ve decided. I submitted a post saying exactly that a couple of hours ago. Clearly the technology is not up to it if it loses posts how can we trust an automatic post count.
    Sepp Blagger must be right after all, no place for Blog Line technology here!

  17. Sobering up from the pub season ticket idea still hasnt sobered me up as much as the above account of how much better the Germans are at football than us….in many respects!
    I remember us being told we have the club we deserve, I also recall a senior member of the motor industry saying we have the motor trade we deserve and a pub landlord saying the same thing about the live music scene, I also would say we have the government we deserve, cos if we cant be bothered then why should they!
    So do we get bothered? Or do we just allow typical Boro/garage/quiet pub/politicians to be our legacy?
    C’mon we cant all be in the next Olympics, so we need to start asking questions, if that means some football clubs/dealerships/pubs/politicians go out of business because they werent fit for purpose then thats maybe the price you pay for charging for rubbish…. people vote with their feet.
    If the whole matchday experience was good value, a good time, then it would be hard to ignore wouldnt it? Let’s face it, the boom years werent all that good, we did lose three finals and got relelgated, the Cup win and Europe were the blown vinyl over the cracks…..maybe we arent that far away from making going to the Boro the first choice?

  18. “**AV writes: I’m just glad it has all be sorted out amicably between yourselves without resorting to bitching, huffing, flouncing, threats of litigation or unsavoury finger-pointing and calling into question the competence of the powers that be.”
    I resemble that remark! If I had feelings they might have been hurt. I was only exploring he issues in an AV sort of way.
    Powmill –
    Would the technology show that the whole of the post had crosed the line, sort of post past the post.
    It was remiss of me earlier not to congratulate Andy R on becoming a father. Is this the first?
    If so was it a boy or a girl. Just think of the opportunities to get posts in during the night when it is your turn.
    You can watch incessant reruns of the Carling Cup DVD!
    One of my best friends sons had their first just before the last Ashes series in Australia. His wife was very impressed at his devotion to night time duties which suddenly ended as the cricket team flew back to England.

  19. I don’t care one iota about the price if I get, even remotely, value for money, but the current efforts are pathetic, and that’s being nice.
    The minus goal difference doesn’t seem to bother anyone, yet it killed us last season and will again. The performances will bring people back, if the players show a true wish to play at home. It has been soul-destroying for ages now, at the Riverside, and that straw has broken the camel’s back now.

  20. So it comes down to this, does it? A bloke with an abacus Monday to Wednesday, and another bloke with a blackboard and a finger of chalk for the rest of the week. And it’s 2012!
    Luckily we’re all gentlemen on here, so a break out of hostilities is not expected. Unlike at the England Under 21’s fixture a short whole ago where, according to Radio 5, World War III was about to burst forth.
    Meanwhile in Warsaw, a comedy is unfolding. A stadium with a retractable roof, left open whilst a massive cloudburst appears to have vented itself on all and sundry. So the pitch is (again according to Radio 5 – 5Live or whatever moniker is currently favoured) unplayable.
    A corvette has been floated into the ground, for use on the left wing, and a submarine is lurking near the penalty spot at one end. The roof is NOW being closed, after the pitch has been inundated.
    Suggestion to the blazers: close the roof before the game and if it is raining cats and dogs, the pitch will be kept safe. The two teams then get a choice – open or closed roof? If the two two teams can’t agree to play under the roof, it is a simple matter to open the roof even if it takes 20 minutes to complete the operation. That could still be done NOW before the start of the game.
    It can then rain during the game but the dry pitch will be able to take it, and the game doesn’t suffer. People who control football should be IN the asylum not running it.

  21. “**AV writes: I think I’ll have to come over and take in a match with you. Research.”
    All expenses paid by the Gazette!? That would be a nice lark if you could wangle it.
    If Boro aren’t in the play offs then their last match is May 4th. Schalke’s last home game is against Stuttgart and will definitely be at 15:30 on May 11th. In the Bundesliga all games on the last two match days start simultaneously. You can bring some of the Blog contributors with you and call it The Untypical Boro End Of Season Football Jollies!
    At nearly every home game there’s usually different gangs of lads from somewhere in the UK there. They usually base themselves in Düsseldorf. Loads of cheap flights there. Great night out on a weekend in the old town. Only half an hour to Gelsenkirchen on the train.
    The last pub we usually go in before the game is the official local of the Schalke Fan Club UK. It’s within view of the stadium. That’s where the UK lads go to pick up their tickets and we have a chat. Last time there was some from Gillingham. The time before they were from near Manchester.
    It’s become quite fashionable for English football fans to have a weekend in Germany and take in a Bundesliga game. From Düsseldorf you’re quickly in Leverkusen, Cologne, Moenchengladbach, Gelenkirchen, Dortmund and(obviously) Düsseldorf.
    I think it’s the standing on the terraces that they enjoy most.
    One thing I forgot to add about the Schalke game is the official Match Programme. It’s glossy paper, DIN A4, about 130 sides and it costs…..nothing! They give em away for free!
    **AV writes: The lads on the desk have been talking about it for years but obviously we have problems with fixture clashes and we can’t all take a weekend at once.

  22. I watched the events in Warsaw last night with a mixture of disbelief, amusement and a hint of discomfort over one or two less glorious incidents with our infamous tent.
    A stadium with a roof that’s is as open as the heavens above beggars belief. You can understand that once the heavens open and wind gets up shutting the roof is not possible, just.
    I wonder if the Polish team wanted a bit of traditional conditions for the match.
    The term chaos sprang to mind then I thought about the match after Sheff Wed many years ago when the tent was left off the Riverside during a period of frosts causing a postponement.
    Or the infamous match against Toon when the tent protected the pitch but all the snow blew off it up the terraces and down the concourses only to freeze and make the ground unsafe despite the external thaw.
    That was amusing but the scenes at Serbia were depressing. At least we can rely on UEFA to act.

  23. Thanks to everyone for their congratulations.
    It seems a little inappropriate to discuss babies on what is a particularly important blog but that’s my fault for being an proud Dad and blurting it out. I won’t go on too much.
    Ian – to answer your questions: yes my first and a girl. With a Boro romper and a Roary teddy the indoctrination is well under way. Enough of that though.
    Any movement from MFC on reading the comments here AV? Perhaps they would be more easily persuaded to attend a Bundesliga game themselves?
    **AV writes: Oh yes, they have read them. Maybe get some feedback next week,

  24. Congratulations, Andy R. I kitted my daughter out similarly in red and white from birth. Her first coherent sentence was “Up the Bubba.”

  25. Many congrats Andy R!
    Just seen the news about Big Mick going back on ’emergency’ loan to Bristol City. In the EG, that appears alongside Mogga talking about having to eke out and rotate his injury ravaged squad over the next half dozen games that come in the next three weeks – and with Woody just fit again.
    Who’s got the ’emergency’? Or is it that – given the wages – the emergency for Boro is making a saving and not having inadequate cover for the central defence?
    Anyone taking odds on in centre-back injuries on Saturday or at Rockliffe?
    **AV writes: I think part of the thinking is to get him bedded in at Bristol to smooth the way to a full transfer in January. He’s out of contract in the summer and if they can save his wages that will help fund some fine-tuning in the next window.

  26. Mac going to the Robins was a bit of a shock considering our own injury situation. Perhaps it was more than a coincidence after our last home gate and commercial reality has hit home and the opportunity to offload the equivalent of around 4,000 bums on seats has taken precedence.
    Congrats Andy R, almost as good as a new 30 goals a season striker signing

  27. What a photo opportunity! As Andy R, myself, FD, Len Masterman, Werdermouth, and assorted posters line up and do the “Bebeto” baby rocking celebration!
    (it takes a man to make a girl)

  28. I only went away for a short break and I come back to an absolutely great article AV, and an explosion of posts not seen for awhile, with in fighting to boot.
    Then to cap it all, the BBC, slow out of the blocks, are now trying to catch up with you AV, with their own Sport Price of Football survey.
    Did you have a bit of inside trader knowledge??

  29. Read the report on pricing and not surprisingly we are just above mid table. Our crowds are just above mid table. Lo and behold we are just above mid table.
    I guess our wage bill is up there as well if not higher.
    Back to business tomorrow.

  30. I would like to propose an alternative musical accompliment to our Boro footballing warriors, as they take to the pitch at the Riverside.
    ‘Monies too Tight to Mention’ by Simply Red.
    Given the news that one of our erstwhile defenders is off to defend for someone else, as it will lessen the load on our overburdened purse, I think it’s quite appropriate.
    In addition, I would like to suggest the inclusion of an in-house poet (paid for by Northern Arts) who would pen a ditty or two as added inspiration. I would like to suggest, as to get the ball rolling to speak, a rap/hip hop reworking of that old favorite – ‘Old Mother Hubbard …’

  31. #onthisboroday Boro fall at the City ground ………
    Keep throwing them at me. I can take it. When do we play there again……??
    I think there is a case of miss heard song lyrics. In fairly sure that Mick Hucknall was ‘holding back the years’ and the ‘bunny’s too tight too mention’
    * AV writes: Snip. Let it go.
    **AV writes: Indeed. Let it go.

  32. Tough match today against Brighton, both managers have selection problems though Poyets are tougher as he has only one player unavailable.
    Maybe Mogga can borrow a couple! Mogga’s problem is having to risk players just back with the attendant risk of aggravating recently healed injuries but you cant find out if they are ready until they have played.

  33. Now this is the way to boost our gates. we can’t get a Juninho so go for Stewie on loan. Pay him £5 a seat filled and this would add 5,000 to the gate, grossing £100,000. Give him £30,000 and bingo, £70,000 profit and a big gap in the east stand filled. Please read this Gibbo and Mogga. There is also the possibility, we might do quite well with him steaming down the right wing.

  34. I think if boro were to run out to a Simply Red song most of the players and a significant portion of the crowd will have fallen asleep before they reached the centre circle.
    As for the Brighton game, I wish I could be as optimistic as Nigel Reeves – surely 3-0 is in hope rather than expectation – I expect the worst but am hoping for the best.
    Over here in northern Germany we’re having a freak hot spell with temperatures around 22C so I’m getting in the seaside mood – so let’s hope Mogga’s team is first to test the water and not caught napping on the beach.

  35. Just like to correct the typo on my previous post which of course should have said 1 – 0 to Boro!
    It was my first visit to the Amex and came with a series of other firsts. I have never been to a ground with spark and ride, one that sells wine(!), to my recollection or one where the seats are padded!! That’s modern football for you I guess.
    We made the most of a stroke of fortune, with a deflected goal and played well defensively all match, although we weren’t much of a threat up front. I thought McDonald had a poor game, although maybe that’s a bit harsh as it was difficult for the attacking players to get into the game. I just think he could have worked harder.
    The back four were great, as was Bailey, not so sure about Haroun’s performance. As for Steele, those who barracked him and moaned about him last season should hang their heads in shame, he put in another strong performance today.
    Overall, despite being one up and under pressure most of the second half we always looked robust and Brighton didn’t pose that much of a threat up front despite a lot of possession. Bring on the next game!

  36. Charlton do matches where all seats are a fiver. I was at the Charlton v Barnsley game at the weekend. Four of us went and we felt obliged to buy beer and food in the ground further adding to the coffers of the club.
    Surely this kind of scheme should be piloted at the Riverside. To appease season ticket holders let them have extra free tickets to these games, or a discount on next years season ticket , or a voucher for the club shop say ( christmas is almost upon us ) or a combination of all of these and make the ground “free seating” so groups can sit together, rather than scatter them around season ticket holders!
    A couple of problems with cheap tickets,
    1. it doesn’t guarantee a good game. The Charlton game was truely dreadful. Nearly fell asleep in the first half!
    2. Cheap tickets also don’t guarantee an atmosphere either. over 26000 at Charlton and even the Barnsley fans started singing “we want to go home” as well as “Shall we sing a song for you”, all the old favourites!

  37. Some great points from AV, but I’m not over the moon with his finger pointing at the season ticket holders holding the club to ransom.
    Not our fault we love the Boro, somehow find the money every season no matter what league we’re in, how garbage we’re doing and pay it off as soon as the early bird price comes along.
    Does he tar my son with the same brush as I take advantage of the £95 season ticket I pay for him, saving myself a fortune? Working out at £4.13 a game.
    I’m all for seeing the stadium full but let’s not point the finger at us ST holders eh?
    **AV writes: I’m not blaming season ticket holders, far from it, I stress that the club need to protect that base. More so now than ever when the need the cash up front at the start of the season in order to plan the budget.
    I do think however that during the sell-out years the club painted themselves into a corner by gearing everything about their strategy towards the ST base (and sometimes backing down to a vocal minority who complained at any sign of concessions for casual fans). That needs to change.
    They need to be more flexible and creative and they urgently need to increase both the gate and the revenue raised through it. I can’t see how any season ticket holder – people more committed to the health and stability of the club than anyone – could possibly object to that.

  38. Fair point AV.
    I was worried a picture was being painted that ST holders are some sort of middle class fan who were blind to fellow fans plight. We too make big sacrifices to stump up the cash every season, it’s not easy, especially when your offspring want to come to every game with you.
    Free cup games for ST holders would be a nice gesture if other fans are going to get in at a discounted prices at league games.
    This pricing really needs to be sorted out before the start of next season, it’s impossible to give discounted tickets whilst you have 14k or so already settled up.
    This culture of the club acting surprised every season at low attendances and then offering budget one off tickets must stop.
    **AV writes: Any discounts will be targeted and occasional. The club know the importance of season tickets. Anyone who benefits from any offers that may materialise may get a fiver or tenner off here and there but ST holder get £8 off the “standard” price every single game. The value of that will not be undermined.

  39. “Tickets: Time To Bite The Bullet?”
    This is a classic thread Vic. On so many levels. It just captures perfectly what your blog is all about. Definitely prize worthy.
    Have a happy new year and keep up the good work!

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