Greetings from a warm and sunny Yokohama. It’s been a long, long time since my last post. Since that post, there have been 1,130+ earthquakes, tsunami, an ongoing nuclear crisis, a drunken week in Osaka, 2 wins, 3 losses, 5 draws and I have finally finished and submitted my MA dissertation on racism and xenophobia in the English football press. So, I’m sure you will understand that it hasn’t exactly been a time where blogging was high on my list of priorities!
Anyway, where to start? I don’t think I will talk about any of the games over that time as there isn’t really any point at this stage, is there? So, I’ll talk a bit about off the field matters today.
There is the whole takeover situation. I am glad that it is Kroenke that gained control of the club rather than Usmanov. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t want someone that has served time in a Russian prison controlling our club. I know that some people would like to see Usmanov come in as there is the perception that, because he is loaded, he would spunk mountains of cash on transfers. However, there is no guarantee he would have done that. Also, you can be sure that any money he would have given the club would have been in the form of loans which, while probably interest free, would still need to be repaid at some stage.
The silence of Kroenke Tonk Stan (KTS) is a little frustrating, but I would take his silence over the likes of a Hicks & Gillette or a Freddie Sheppard style owner who tended to not do themselves any favours when they did speak. Of course, it would be nice to hear the exact intentions that KTS has for the club, will he invest any money and will he work together with small shareholders and groups such as the AST? However, we can assume that things will basically continue as normal until we hear otherwise. To be honest, we don’t really need him to invest any money as there is plenty of money available for the manager to spend, he has just chosen not to spend it. We are not skint. Hopefully the manager will spend some of that money this coming summer on some proven quality. I don’t care how much or little the players cost, I just want them to be good, and experienced.
However, I don’t want to get into any transfer speculation today as there will be endless opportunities to speculate on that between the end of the season and the closing of the transfer window at the end of August.
The club is pressing ahead with its plans to raise ticket prices by 6.5% and you can’t help but feel that KTS has missed a great chance to get the fans on his side and garner some good PR. I hope that the money gained by this rise will go towards strengthening the squad rather than towards our largely ineffective commercial department. As someone that lives in Japan, the ticket increase won’t really have any impact on me at all. But, it will almost certainly mean that some current season ticket holders and club level fans won’t be able to afford to renew.
The club really ought to take the current economic situation into consideration as raising the prices will surely result in a big reduction in the season ticket waiting list and we will likely see plenty of empty seats in the stadium next year as people just won’t be able to afford to go. It’s all well and good raising the ticket prices, but the club also have to consider the other costs that fans incur on match days. Planes, trains, boats, buses, food, programmes, fanzines, drinks and some merchandise all add up to an expensive day out. While the club may feel that the 6.5% is reasonable, when you consider all the additional costs, you are probably looking at somewhere between 100-150 for each home game. That just isn’t sustainable for the average fan. Even if the club sells all its allocated season tickets, if those fans start skipping attending some games, then the match day revenue inside the stadium will drop.
I think that this ticket price increase will lead to an even greater than usual outpouring of rage in the summer should the club again fail to sign experienced players of proven quality.
According to AST’s Tim Payton, on Twitter (www.twitter.com/timpayton), the club is committed to undertaking a full ticket pricing review for the 2012/2013 season.
Finally, the club revealed its new kit for next season and at first I had decided that I was going to buy it. Then, I discovered yesterday that the crest is not going to be embroidered onto the shirt, instead it is just going to be a sticker that is applied through some form of heat treatment. Personally, I have no interest in blowing about 50 on a shirt if I have to worry about whether or not the crest will still be on the it after each and every washing. To opt for a sticker style crest over an embroidered one, especially in the club’s 125th anniversary year, just smacks of penny pinching. Though I suppose there is the possibility that it may be too complex to embroider the crest and leaf design. Still, a sticker crest just looks cheap.
Right, that’ll have to do for today. It’s good to be back in the saddle again.
You can follow me on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/colm_smyth
Take it easy.