Pie and a pint for your money

Sunday’s Non-League paper has pulled up a great debate via the Tony Incenzo column and one that has a lot of mileage. If you haven’t heard of Tony he has an incredible record of non-league games attended at many levels all whilst working for talkSPORT covering his beloved QPR.

His column at the weekend centred on ways to get some new fans into non-league football and keeping them there. Of course, there will always be those who have a side they go and watch or follow when their Premier League or Football League are away, I don’t think some of those are for converting.

But, there are over the next few months and possibly years many who will start to find themselves priced out of the top end of the game as personal finances get squeezed even tighter. I found that years ago although I’ve been watching non-league football since before the age of ten, that affording a day out at the top level was rising more than my wages and so sometimes you have to make a choice.

Non-league won, I was still watching football and I wasn’t burning a hole in my finances every week. This pandemic will hit the average person hard for a while and as Tony remarked it’s a good time to get people into our clubs and spending what to them would be less money, but to some clubs a small fortune per person.

At non-league level, you get remembered, respected more and in a lot of ways thought of. Most inside the grounds and clubs are volunteers, doing it for the love of the game and the club inside their community and that community is so much more important now to ensure we don’t lose any more clubs whilst we come out the other end of this tough time.

The debate comes in the form of how to market clubs to see how attractive they are to watch a game of football. A pricing structure was proposed for Step 5 and 6 of £10 based upon entry of £5 or £6 to include a drink and a pie. Now I’ve been to Step 5 games twice this side of lockdown where the admission was £8 and £7, Step 6 £6 entry for the games at that level.

So, you add in a pint £3 and a pie (best guess here) £2, possibly more and clubs at Step 6 would be losing £1 on each person who comes in for that so that would need tweaking. Step 5 would be losing £4 or £5 per person so in principle the idea is good but the logistics of the finances needs some work.

Could the admission price be reduced as part of the deal? Well, that is an option, but does the person who only wants to watch, pays his admission and then decides at half time he does want some food or a drink will they feel they are getting as good a deal?

National League at £25 is a great price for this deal, take for example last season a seat at Barnet was £24 in the Legends Stand so to get a drink and food for £25 makes a bargain for the supporter, but a loss for the club unless they source their materials at much lower prices and I feel that across the pyramid all clubs charge differently and throw in their own incentives that maybe work better for them.

What if you prefer a burger or a hotdog instead of a pie? Will that make things a bit messy trying to do changes pricewise? Is a drink classified as a soft drink or alcoholic?

I might be picking holes a bit in this, but clubs need to make a profit on it not a loss and at all levels there are huge differences. I do however think it’s an idea on the right lines but needs more work doing to make it attractive to both the supporter and the club. It might to hard to work it across all steps at the same price with different admission pricing quite evident at grounds but it’s a project to get behind and I think that once fans are allowed in at all levels of non-league football it’s something that can be put together and out to the public in double quick time, another campaign brewing?

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