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Sunday 27 March 2011
From the Rushden & Diamonds programme

From time to time we publish articles from the programme that haven't otherwise appeared on this site. The following article was published in the Rushden programme on 26 March. In it Chief Executive Erik Samuelson explains the changes to ticket pricing for concessions that will come into effect for next season – and explains possible changes in the play-off dates.

Good afternoon and welcome to the fans, officials and players of Rushden & Diamonds FC. On Monday a team of volunteers will be carrying out the annual envelope-stuffing event that comprises the despatch of season ticket renewal notices. This is a couple of weeks earlier than in previous seasons, for a reason I’ll explain later.

There are a number of changes for season 2011/12, but the most important message is that fans who renew by 5.00 pm on 20 May 2011 (I’m sure you will recognise the significance of that date) will be able to do so at this season’s prices. If we were to win promotion to the Football League it is possible that we will increase prices – we’ve not yet finished our thinking about this, and we will need to agree changes, if any, with the Dons Trust board. But any price increase arising from promotion would not take effect before 21 May.

On the subject of increases, we are making two changes for next season. First, we are increasing matchday entry for concessions by £1, which translates into a £20 increase in concession season ticket prices – with effect from 21 May. Despite this increase, I believe that our concession prices will still be the lowest percentage of adult prices in our league, and the league above.

Concession prices are aimed at making football affordable for fans who are less able to pay, and this change would hit unemployed fans more than most. Therefore, next season we are introducing a system whereby unemployed fans can obtain a photo ID card from the club which will enable them to see the game from the terraces for the under-16 price of £2. The ID card will provide the same priorities for tickets for one-off games as are enjoyed by season ticket holders. This offer applies to the terraces only.

The second change is that we are increasing the age at which fans are entitled to concession prices from 60 to 65. This is something we have been contemplating for some time, and a review of the top half of the table shows that we are one of only two clubs which set the age at 60 – the other being today’s opponents!

Whenever a change like this is introduced it can feel unfair – especially to people who, like me, are between 60 and 65. However, as I mentioned earlier, if you buy your season ticket by 20 May the price (and age limit) will be unchanged from this season. We are in a recession. While views vary, hardly anyone thinks we will come out of it quickly. To make it easier to afford a season ticket, last season we introduced an option to buy season tickets by direct debit, payable over ten months. This season you can pay in 12 monthly instalments, starting in April 2011.

While a season ticket bought before 20 May will cost the same as this season, the monthly payments will be 16% less than last season. To increase the number of payments to 12 and still finish at the same time of year, we needed to send out renewals earlier than last year.

Finally, the 20 May deadline applies to season ticket holders who want to watch from the same seat or terrace as last season – this is earlier than in the past, so don’t miss out.

On a completely different subject, I thought I ought to tell you that there is a realistic possibility that the first leg of the play-offs will now be played on Thursday 5 May or Friday 6 May, to avoid a clash with Champions League games. These dates are not yet fixed because the FA Trophy final takes place on the Saturday between the two play-off semi-finals, and if Darlington were to reach the playoffs then it wouldn’t be fair to them to make them play one or two days before the final.