Today the club has announced its approach to season ticket prices, phases and zones for the 2023/24 season.
Given that our circumstances are far from ideal just now, what we have on the table is probably as good as we are going to get with the current owner trying to minimise his losses and with no fixed timeframe for a new owner.
It’s good that there was some consultation – albeit rather late in the process - with all the fan groups at the Fans’ Forum on 23rd March. The club extended the Phase One deadline from mid April to mid May as a direct result of the feedback at this meeting. In addition in a separate meeting, CAST emphasised that the most important thing was to ensure that it was affordable for fans to attend matches (as per the Addicks’ Charter) at The Valley. We stressed the importance of ensuring that a small group of disabled supporters should in no way inadvertently be penalised by any changes to pricing strategy. Finally, given what fans have been through, we suggested that if the club was serious about pushing for promotion next season, then fans should be rewarded for playing our part in being the 12th Addick to help get us there with a season ticket freeze should we achieve Championship football for 24/25.
So how does it look?
We are pleased to see that there is a price freeze versus this season’s final pricing in all parts of the stadium as long as season tickets for next season are purchased before 12th May.
When comparing like for like to Phase One this season, those in the wings of the Curbishley Stand and West Stand benefit from a price freeze, whereas others will experience an increase of between 2% and 10%.
It is good to see that football remains affordable at The Valley at £12.50 a game for an adult in the Lower Covered End. Not that any Charlton supporter would even consider it, but that price per game compares favourably with the neighbouring benchmarks of Gillingham at £14.78 per game for 23/24 and £16 per game in M******l’s cheapest for 23/24 which is the family stand.
We expect there might be a bit of matchday shuffling in the Alan Curbishley Stand and the West Stand as those who currently have seats on the halfway line renew elsewhere for £200 less per adult and then somehow strangely forget that they have moved.
Given the importance of the atmosphere created by the Upper Covered End, we remain rather disappointed that this area is much more expensive than the Lower tier.
We note that the club hasn’t fully embraced our suggestion of a price freeze in the event of promotion to the Championship. But it has taken the overall idea on board and confirmed that there will be no more than a 5% price increase for early purchasers if we do. The Office for Budget Responsibility is currently forecasting that the Consumer Price Index will be only 2.5% at the time of renewal, i.e. quarter one 2024. So, 5% would represent an above inflation increase. That said, in the 22/23 season, few Championship clubs offer season tickets cheaper than ours (QPR from £235, Cardiff from £249 and Birmingham at £250). We suggested this offer as a way to rebuild togetherness between fans, the team, the manager and the ownership with a shared objective for the season. The club has listened and we take this as a positive sign. Perhaps next year we can anticipate consultation with fans taking place in further depth and earlier in the process.
All in all, the season ticket approach looks about as good as we were ever going to get under Thomas Sandgaard. Dean Holden’s presence has made a palpable difference and he is clearly making plans with some experienced help from the boardroom. Sandgaard’s continued presence will mean that some will no doubt bide their time and elect for now to come on a match-by-match basis next season. For others, well, it’s either the habit or the hope that gets you, isn’t it?