Mike Ashley has been writing to MPs telling them his investment in Newcastle United has  “enabled Newcastle United to establish an affordable ticket-pricing policy for fans”.  He says “this includes a number of season-ticket price-freeze schemes, which allows over 20,000 supporters to secure their ticket at a significantly-reduced rate every season.”

But what about the other 30,000 that make up the majority, those that didn’t have a season ticket when the prize freeze was offered all those years ago, or didn’t trust Ashley enough to take him up on the offer given what he’d done to the club?

And will those on the price freeze see prices as “affordable” when their deal ends in a couple of years time?

Single tickets

I cancelled my season ticket after John Carver was entrusted with the responsibility of keeping us up in 2015.  The subsequent appointment of Steve McClaren and a £50m summer spend on five players did nothing to convince me Mike Ashley deserved my long term commitment to his project.  I’ve never had any trouble getting single tickets since (all these prices assume you know a season ticket holder who will be able to get you member prices) but the prices have been rising since Rafa Benitez arrived.

Back in 2015 I could get into most games for under £20.  14 games that year were between £15 and £19 in level 7. Last season there wasn’t one game I could attend all season for less than £23.

So far this season the minimum ticket is £25, and I can’t imagine many will be cheaper than Brighton. This represents a 66% increase on the cheapest tickets of 2015.

Of course, being in the family enclosure,  this assumes you have a child and buy them a ticket too.

Seats in the Gallowgate/Leazes and East Stand haven’t risen as much but have seen massive increases of their own for the lowest category games, on already higher prices.  A 36% increase in the Gallowgate (up £9 from £25 to £34) and 52% in the East Stand (up £15 from £29 to £44)

Bottom Category ticket prices Season Ending 2015 Level 7 £15 Gallowgate/Leazes £25 East Stand £29  Season Ending 2016 Level 7 £15 Gallowgate/Leazes £25 East Stand £29  Season Ending 2018 Level 7 £23 Gallowgate/Leazes £31 East Stand £41  Season Ending 2019* Level 7 £25 Gallowgate/Leazes £34 East Stand £44 *Up to and including Bournemouth (10 November)

*Up to and including Bournemouth (10 November)

The price to see top teams has not increased comparably, in fact for the most part they’ve decreased.  Even if you take Sunderland out of the equation (obviously not a top team, but derby tickets were always costliest and could exceed £50 before they fell of the radar).

Only the East Stand has seen the price of a top category ticket increase and then only by £1.  

Corresponding tickets have dropped £5 in both Level 7 (16%)  and the Leazes and Gallowgate (12%).

Top Category* ticket prices Season Ending 2015 Level 7 £32 Gallowgate £42 East Stand £47  Season Ending 2016 Level 7 £26 Gallowgate £36 East Stand £41  Season Ending 2018 Level 7 £28 Gallowgate £37 East Stand £48  Season Ending 2019* Level 7 £27 Gallowgate £37 East Stand £48   *excluding SAFC *Up to and including Arsenal (15 September)

*excluding SAFC

*Up to and including Arsenal (15 September)

Despite the overall drop in prices for top category games, the large increase in cost for ‘cheap’ tickets has led to an overall narrowing in the range of prices charged across for different games but an overall increase in the price you would expect to pay to see every game.

Every Game  Season Ending 2015 Level 7 £368 Gallowgate/Leazes £553 East Stand £638  Season Ending 2016 Level 7 £402 Gallowgate/Leazes £580 East Stand £676  Season Ending 2018 Level 7 £458 Gallowgate/Leazes £616 East Stand £812

Even spread over 3 seasons, the increases can be steep, £63 extra in the Gallowgate & Leazes, £90 in the family enclosure and £174 in the East Stand corresponding to an 11%, 24% and 27% increases respectively over those 3 years, or 3.8%, 8% and 9% annually.

Season Tickets

Given the price increases on single tickets a season ticket is now more cost effective than paying game by game, a situation that (bizarrely) wasn’t  necessarily the case when I cancelled my own season ticket.

This is due to a slower increase in Season ticket prices than in single tickets.

Season Ticket   Season Ending 2008 Level 7 £350 Gallowgate/Leazes £482 East Stand £583  Season Ending 2009 Level 7 £330 Gallowgate/Leazes £543 East Stand £658  Season Ending 2011 Level 7 £330 Gallowgate/Leazes £543 East Stand £658  Season Ending 2012 Level 7 £345 Gallowgate/Leazes £558 East Stand £673  Season Ending 2013 Level 7 £362 Gallowgate/Leazes £580 East Stand £698  Season Ending 2014 Level 7 £378 Gallowgate/Leazes £602 East Stand £722  Season Ending 2015 Level 7 £383 Gallowgate/Leazes £578 East Stand £710  Season Ending 2016 Level 7 £365 Gallowgate/Leazes £578 East Stand £710  Season Ending 2018 Level 7 £378 Gallowgate/Leazes £598 East Stand £735  Season Ending 2019 Level 7 £397 Gallowgate/Leazes £628 East Stand £772

Level 7 has seen the the smallest increase, £47 is just a 13% increase over a decade.

The Gallowgate and Leazes have seen a much steeper increases at £146, or 30%.

The largest increase is in the East Stand though, where the £189 increase from £583 to £772 is a 32% rise.

Chart showing season ticket prices rises from 2008 - 2018  Level 7 £350 up to £397  Gallowgate/Leazes £482 up to £628  East Stand £583 up to £772

Over a decade these are not unreasonable rises of 1.3% to 3.2% annually, however, back in 2008 Newcastle fans already paid a higher price than most other fans for their season tickets, reasonably so for a club that regularly qualified for europe and competed with other top clubs in the transfer market.

The rises over the past decade are at a club that have slashed costs both on and off the pitch, qualified for Europe much less frequently, fought relegation with far greater regularity and failed to win that fight twice.  Should a general increase in ticket prices go hand in hand with a general drop in standards in the quality of player, quality of stadium, and quality of football?

We can only gauge if Newcastle charge a fair price by comparing to other clubs, which the BBC did last November.

Compared to others

The BBC compare prices on standard tickets.  Not for those on a special offer, not for members and not for those with kids.  They provide the cheapest and most expensive season tickets and single tickets.

Newcastle designate a small section in the north west corner as Category 3, in this section season tickets are sold at a reduced price and this is the price provided to the BBC.  In addition to this section I have added the other standard areas for a comparison.

Cheapest Season Ticket 17/18 Arsenal £891 Chelsea £750 Newcastle (East Stand) £735 Liverpool £685 Tottenham £645 Newcastle (Gallowgate/Leazes) £598 Bournemouth £550 Southampton £541 Man Utd £532 Brighton £495 Newcastle (provided to BBC) £473 Crystal Palace £420 Everton £420 Swansea £419 Watford £403 West Brom £380 Leicester £365 Burnley £329 Man City £299 Stoke £291 West Ham £289 Huddersfield £100

It’s clear that in any standard area, Newcastle United do not compare favourably for cheap tickets with the other Premier League clubs we hope to compete with.  We’re a top ten club when it comes to high priced cheap tickets. Eleven other clubs had cheaper tickets available.

Newcastle’s pricing structure defies the north/south divide too.  Take out the big six and the only three clubs that charge more for their cheapest tickets are all on the south coast, Brighton, Southampton and Bournemouth, all other clubs in between offer a cheaper standard option.

For costlier tickets Newcastle drop out of the ten, but still push it close.

Costliest Season ticket (17/18) Arsenal £1,768 Tottenham £1,700 Chelsea £1,250 West Ham £1,155 Man Utd £950 Man City £920 Liverpool £869 Brighton £815 Bournemouth £760 Southampton £759 Newcastle (East Stand) £735 Leicester £730 Watford £679 Stoke £609 Newcastle (Gallowgate/Leazes) £598 Burnley £580 Everton £565 West Brom £499 Swansea £489 Huddersfield £299

Again, the north/south divide is clear, only West Ham joining the south coast three in having costlier tickets than the rest of the league outside of the big six, but Newcastle have the highest  priced ‘expensive ‘ seats of any club north of London Stadium.

Remember, these prices are from last season too, as outlined above, Newcastle have increased the Gallowgate and Leazes to £628 and the East Stand to £772, it will be interesting to see how this compares to other clubs in the next price of football survey.

Finally a look at how Newcastle compare on single ticket prices according to the BBC.

Cheapest single ticket 17/18 Chelsea £47 Everton £38 Watford £36 Man City £35 Swansea £35 Bournemouth £32 Southampton £32 Man Utd £31 Brighton £30 Burnley £30 Huddersfield £30 Newcastle £27 Crystal Palace £27 Arsenal £26 Leicester £26 Stoke £25 West Brom £25 West Ham £25 Tottenham £20 Liverpool £9

 

Dearest single ticket 17/18 Arsenal £95 Chelsea £87 West Ham £80 Tottenham £75 Brighton £60 Liverpool £59 Man City £58 Man Utd £53 Southampton £52 Newcastle £50 Crystal Palace £50 Leicester £50 Stoke £50 Everton £49 Bournemouth £45 Swansea £45 Watford £42 Burnley £40 West Brom £35 Huddersfield £30

Once again, in either category Newcastle can be beaten on price by at least 8 other clubs and generally only charge less than the big six or those in the south.  Everton, Burnley and Huddersfield being the notable exceptions for cheap tickets.

Chris Holt – Follow on @bigchrisholt