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Ups And Downs 

No, this is not about the fluctuating performances on the pitch that have been a feature of West Ham life over the years, but the cost of getting into the Boleyn to see a game.

I'll start with the "downs" - by which I mean the generally excellent reduction of prices for the "Kids for a Quid" days against Leicester and Blackburn. These two days have been roaring successes, with the team playing to full houses, where there would otherwise have been large empty spaces in the stands. This must be good for the long-term future of the club, as these youngsters are the supporters who will (hopefully) be coming to matches in years to come. It was helpful that both games were won, as success is the best way to keep the kids coming back.

However, as is usual with West Ham, there is always a flaw. I would have liked to bring my nephew, and Clive, who I sit next to in the Chicken Run, wanted to bring his two children. Because all the seats around us are occupied by season ticket holders, we could not get them into our area, which would mean sitting in another part of the ground for the day. Clive made enquiries about temporary transfer of our season tickets, and was told that this was not possible, and if we wanted to bring the kids to the match, we would have to pay full adult prices for our tickets. This means we would be paying twice to get in. It's expensive enough paying once - twice is more than either of us can afford. Given that support of a football team is often handed down from father to son (especially where non-trophy winning clubs like West Ham are concerned), the club are turning away some of their potential support by this action. O.K. there may be some minor short-term loss of income for the club, but surely the whole idea of the scheme is to build for the long-term?

Now for the "ups" - the hefty prices being charged for the privilege of inserting blue flags into anal orifices in the FA Cup replay against Chelsea. Surely the club cannot keep taking the mickey with these price hikes against certain clubs. Yet I fear they will, as demand is reported to be high, thus "proving" to the club that they are doing the right thing. I was interested to see last week that Middlesbrough's supporters, annoyed at being charged more than usual for their Cup match against the Mancers, decided to boycott the game in large numbers, and the game was played in front of a half-empty stadium. They would probably have taken much more in gate receipts had they held their usual prices and got a full-house. I think it would be good if the same happened at West Ham, but it looks like it won't (and yes I'm one of the guilty ones who's got himself a ticket - call me Mr. Hypocrite).

I think there is a lesson to be learned by West Ham there. As the continued redevelopment increases the capacity of the stadium, then I think the club could find that they will seriously have to reconsider their pricing structures. Otherwise they too will often find themselves with large empty spaces in the stands, as people cannot afford to keep coming week-in-week-out at current prices (the vast majority who can are already season ticket holders).

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