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Sunday 25 March 2012
From the Burton Albion programme

From time to time we reproduce articles from the programme which have not been reported elsewhere. In the following extract from his page in the programme for the Burton Albion game, Erik Samuelson talks about exploring every avenue - including increasing ticket prices - to fund a squad that will enable us to continue to make progress in the Football League.

Everyone I talk to at this club of ours has said how they absolutely love being in the Football League again, and how it’s the only place to be. Many talk optimistically of rising further – and I share that ambition. But in the short term, our aim has to be to build on what we’ve achieved this season, and that is what we’ve been preparing for.

Recently I analysed the one-off income we’ve had this year: from two live televised games, transfer fees for Danny Kedwell and Stephen Gregory, and higher-than-budgeted cup profits. I looked at the reduced central income for next season (there’s a new, less remunerative TV deal) and extra unavoidable costs we’ll incur (e.g. arising from the new stand). Then I calculated the extra income we expect from sponsorship of the new stand (no pressure, Ivor) and our new official website. The end result is that, unless we take some action, we’ll start next season with less money for players wages than we started with this year.

Funnily enough, not many people come to me with ideas for spending less money, so we need to identify other sources of possible income, such as sponsorship of the East Stand (John Smith’s are no longer our drinks suppliers, so we’ll be dropping that name), additional deals around the new official website, and changing ticket prices.

I obtained an analysis of what other clubs charge for admission. Getting genuinely comparable figures isn’t easy because other clubs have more complex pricing structures than we do. And most League 2 clubs have masses of unused capacity and use it to offer special deals to attract fans. We, on the other hand, had a renewal rate in the Paul Strank Stand for this season of close on 100%.

Here are some figures from that analysis. The average terrace price for an under-16 is £5.78 (although not all clubs have terraces, and the average under-16 price where there are only seats is £8.50), whereas ours has been unchanged for ten years at £2. The average price of concession seats as a percentage of the full adult price is 75%; ours is 59%.

So yes, we are looking at increasing prices for 2012/13. The prices in the KRE will be higher than this season, since we will continue to charge a premium for a seat. And we are looking at other factors: the very high demand for the central seats in the Paul Strank Stand; whether we ought to have differential pricing for the terraces; what is a reasonable price that will encourage young people to continue to support us when family budgets are strained.

We haven’t finalised our thinking, but we will need to do so very soon because season ticket renewal letters are scheduled to be sent out by next Friday. This is earlier than in the past as we need to notify direct debit payers of any changes in the amounts they pay. The renewal notes will also explain how we propose to allocate seats in the new stand, as I mentioned on this page in the Bradford City programme.

To summarise, we think that there is only one place for us to be – the Football League. So we need to give Terry a budget that is as competitive as possible (even then, our starting budget this year was the fourth smallest, according to figures compiled by the League) and we have to generate that money ourselves. We will continue to be as inventive as we can about how we raise money, but if we want to stay fan-owned and competitive on the pitch, we have to look at price increases of some kind. This isn’t the best of news to be imparting, but it’s only right to warn you of possible changes.