Conference hit back over ticket prices

TOP brass at the Football Conference will listen to supporters’ concerns after disappointing ticket sales for Saturday’s play-off final at Eastlands between Luton Town and AFC Wimbledon, writes Mark Wood.

With typical adult tickets costing between £36 and £41, children’s £18, and no concessions for OAPs, the Conference have come under fire from hard up supporters.

Added to that, booking fees and the cost of postage and packaging, means many fans have been unable to afford to attend the final.

Both clubs had only been able to sell around half their initial allocations by yesterday, meaning that around 17,000 had been sold in total.

And while Football Conference general manager Dennis Strudwick refused to admit the sales had been disappointing, he promised the board would listen to polite supporter feedback.

He said: “They are priced exactly the same as last year save for a small increase for VAT put on by the Government.

“Given they are the same as last year it’s difficult to say it’s wrong.

“We didn’t get any complaints last year.

“I’m wondering how much we have to change but we will be mindful.

I would be foolish to say we wouldn’t listen to what people have told us.

You are asking me to look into the future and I haven’t got a crystal ball.

“I can’t say it will (change) because it will be a Board decision.”

He equated the event to a show, saying: “I haven’t rung the theatre to complain about the price. You either go or you don’t go.”

But Strudwick admitted that Wembley might have a slight extra cache compared to the City of Manchester Stadium and the price should reflect that.

He said: “I think it’s a consideration but you’re asking me to be objective.

“I’m sure Wembley still has a wow factor to play there.

“This year it’s at Manchester because we can’t choose Wembley.”

In fact they were denied a final at the home of football by just one day, with Strudwick saying: “Our board tried to get Wembley but UEFA wouldn’t let us have it.

“They like to shut it down 14 days before the Champions League final and wouldn’t let us have that one.

“People ask could we not have moved the cup final?

“The planning started eight months ago so it’s not practical.

“You have to have a contract and demonstrate a financial commitment. A stadium like that has to be paid for.

“You can’t do that if you are going to have two or three other options in the wings, they have to be let down.

“You have to make a decision and it’s unrealistic to have more than one option and you are stringing all the others along.

“It needs to be sewn up really early so you can start making your plans.

“I think you’ve got to consider the other two semi-finalists too.

“If it had been Fleetwood against Wrexham we wouldn’t be having this conversation. It is sod’s law this year you have two southern teams in the final.

“You don’t know who is going to be in the final. You could have two teams that attract fewer people than those two clubs.

“We wanted a big crowd and the Conference makes no money, it just goes back to the clubs.

“It’s a big opportunity for the clubs in a big game.”

The game is played a day before the last match of the Premier League season and Strudwick questioned whether there would even have been other appropriate venues.

He said: “Are there three or four other options out there?

“Straight away your options are halved because they’ve got a fixture list on that weekend.

“We want the clubs to have a great day out.”

But he’s still hopeful it will be quite an occasion, adding: “Everything stacks up for it being a very important game. We just hope it’s a good game.”

Related topics: