By: A Dons Man It’s been well advertised: the human cost of brutal downturn in oil price and what effect this has had upon people in the north east of Scotland. The last few years has seen a jobs crisis sweep across the city with people finding it harder than ever financially. Whether you are for the stadium or against it, this is just a brutal harsh reality. While its unlikely a ‘For sale’ sign will go up anytime soon on the house of Stewart Milne or George Yule, what is clear is that these signs have become glaringly visible on houses across the Aberdeen city landscape and the competition for employment positions has been fierce. But with the possibility of an even bigger ‘for sale’ sign becoming visible on Pittodrie Street – given the clubs hope for a move to Kingsford – just what will the weekly costs of such a move be for the average Aberdeen fan – the ordinary man who plods down Merkland Road on a Saturday, buys his programme and a pie. Amidst all the finger pointing towards the No Kingsford group and the NIMBYISM accusations, many Dons fans seem to have mysteriously overlooked another cost; the cost to them of a move to Kingsford – the real potential of the rising cost of a Saturday match-day. While there are a good few accountants,within that boardroom, inside Pittodrie Stadium – good men I am sure with a professional track record, however what this latest effort at the new AFC stadium has shown us is that you don’t have to be a chartered accountant to work out that the figures are rubbish. Bringing clarity to the funding towards the new Kingsford Stadium is a form of heavy weightlifting that Aberdeen Football Club refuse to bring in any detail or clarity to. They know they have to pay for it to be built but they just cannot in anyway bring in clarity to how its going to be done. Just like in “the X-files” the truth is out in space somewhere. So, with many Dons fans seemingly intent on moving, unwilling to listen to any rationale debate or any discussion about rebuilding our historical home of Pittodrie Stadium, continually throwing about cheap abuse on social media and dismissing any anti Kingsford stadium rhetoric as ‘NIMBYISM’ or ‘not from a real Dons fan’ lets just look at what possibly could happen to the ordinary Dons fans wallet on match-day should the club move outside the city to Kingsford?
Match TicketsThe cost of the average match ticket at Kingsford will almost certainly increase by a few ££’s with any move to a new stadium. At the current time it already costs an adult between £22 and £28 to buy a ticket for a game and that is without the hidden ‘add-ons’ of ticket processing fees and postage which often adds on another £2. Pensioners are also hit by ticketing costs of between £14 and £20 currently for Pittodrie a game. When you look at the inaccessibility of the Kingsford Stadium to many of us just what will the match-day mobility cost be to an ageing pensioner? Will they get free bus trips out? Even if they do will they fancy a 6.5 mile hike outside the city for a football match? Cup tickets are not included in the price of a season ticket and are another ‘add on’ for football fans. Two or three of these matches a season in Europe and in domestic competitions adds another £60 to £75 to an adult football fan watching over the cost of a season.
Season TicketsA season ticket currently costs between £319 and £406 a season depending on where you sit inside the stadium. For over 65’s these cost between £203 and £290 a season. Its hard to believe that the price of a season ticket will come down in price with any move to Kingsford. You don’t build a cinema and make it less expensive to watch a movie; you don’t buy a bigger car and expect the price of fuel to be cheaper. Season tickets at Kingsford will cost Dons supporters more. Think about it. [caption id="attachment_2018" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Unaffordable season tickets[/caption]
Transportation by BusThe club, like with the new stadium funding proposals, have brought little clarity to just how many thousands of fans will be transported out for a match. And, from reading Aberdeen FC fan forums and unofficial club chat pages, amongst Dons fans this issue of transport to the stadium is a HUGE concern even to those fans who would sell their own granny if it means moving from Pittodrie. Are Dons fans actually questioning just how much is it going to cost to get these ‘buses’ out to Kingsford? First Bus are a profit making company in Aberdeen and the buses are clean and tidy but will they simply lay on huge numbers of free buses out and back? Its already £2.50+ for a single ticket in Aberdeen – far more than you pay in just about any other Scottish city. Are Aberdeen fans looking at another £5 on match-day costs for buses to the stadium? I would suggest they are. There is very little for free nowadays and its going to cost you money to get to Kingsford.
ParkingAround Pittodrie on matchday there are a number of places you can park for free for a home match and get away without it being a hit to the wallet. Naturally it’s not a free for all and like every city there are restrictions. But parking out at Kingsford is likely to cost the Dons football supporter. And with parking restrictions outside offices and retail outlets will come restrictions. This is the age of CCTV – there are cameras everywhere watching where you park and for how long. When car driving, Aberdeen fans start getting demands for parking fines through the front door, will they still be so keen on that move from Pittodrie? Have you thought how much it might cost to park out at Kingsford compared to what it does now?
Catering (cashless system)Catering within Pittodrie Stadium on match-day is a sore point for many. While not the ‘cost’ that seems to be the issue the quality of product certainly is an issue. Despite bakery shops being on the route to Pittodrie and a Morrisons supermarket located on Kings Street offering sausage rolls at under a £1 there are a great many people happy to pay £2.50 for a less than tasty pie inside Pittodrie. In short the quality of these products is poor and more often that not half of the pie goes on the pitch or is devoured by a seagull at half time. Pies, crisps, Coca-Cola, Fanta, hot dogs and Bovril ALL cost cash – money. It will be the same at any new Stadium. These products do not come with the price of a season ticket or as part of the cash turnstile entry fee. With the new stadium we are talking about the improved product context supposedly – and improved products cost more whether they are actually even better or not. There is also a potential with any new stadium that a ‘cashless’ system of paying for goods will come into play. This system is very very common at new stadiums across the world and involves fans being unable to buy products with loose coins and change. Instead Aberdeen supporters will have to load a branded AFC chipped card with a minimum of £5, £10 and £20.
In summaryIts wrong to point the finger too much at prominent Aberdeen supporters’ groups like DST ‘Dons Supporters Together’ and accuse them of simply wanting Kingsford to get ahead. Within that group there will be a number of people with different viewpoints just like with anything in life. Some will be hugely for Kingsford and against that there will be some with huge reservations. To the credit of DST, they have done online surveys and promoted the results as reflecting the views of Aberdeen FC fans. DST are good people, and have made large attempts to mobilise themselves. Looking on as well it would appear that Aberdeen FC have ‘kept them at bay’ as a supporters group quite a lot. For example, there is no ‘fan on the board’ at Pittodrie to discuss the new Kingsford Stadium and engagement has never gone much further than ‘its going to happen’. It’s widely recognised that the self styled fan liaison officer at Aberdeen FC is in fact a Aberdeen FC paid employee and part of the AFC community action group.
Of course its wrong to just point the finger at Aberdeen Football club with respect to match pricing. In many cases the pricing for match tickets are advised by the SPFL across all clubs regardless of new stadium or not. But make no mistake it is the strategists within Pittodrie who decide who pays what at an Aberdeen football match at the turnstile. It will be Mr Milne and Mr Yule who will decide who pays what at any new stadium. By and large Mr Milne, Mr Yule and the CEO Mr Fraser or anyone else that sits on the board of AFC are not your average football fans – they do not wear scarves; they do not wear a home shirt and they do not queue up and pay £2.50 for a half time pie. They wear a shirt and tie. They are running the club and are high 5 figure salary club officials. They may have been ordinary punters at one time but they are NOT average football supporters. And, while that big figure salary mentioned might be a little bit out, these guys just mentioned are the men behind Kingsford; they are the reason the No to Kingsford group have came about and they are the same men who set the figure of what fans will possibly pay on match-day at Kingsford. All these Dons fans who want to see Pittodrie Stadium torn down; the traditional historical home of the clubs since 1899 trashed and demolished and turned into cheap kit residential flats.
Hardly an independent voice of the fans you could say?