SCANDALOUS – that’s the verdict of disgusted Saints fans being asked to pay £50 to watch their club in action at Chelsea tonight.
Just days after Manchester City failed to sell out their allocation of £62 tickets at Arsenal, so Saints supporters are again being hammered in their pockets.
Saints travel to Stamford Bridge for tonight’s re-arranged Premier League clash, with tickets £47 for visiting fans in the lower tier and £50 for the upper tier.
It is the second time this season that Saints fans have been asked to pay £50 - they were charged £51 and £49 at, ironically, Manchester City on the opening day of the season. Due to the high price of tickets and the fact the game comes just four days after a trip to Aston Villa, Saints’ travelling army is expected to be reduced in numbers tonight.
Mike O’Callaghan, chairman of the Southampton Independent Supporters Association, said it was “scandalous” that Chelsea are charging Saints fans that much.
“It would be nice if the Premier League brought in a price cap for away tickets,” he said.
“I think £35 tops is a fair, realistic figure. That’s around what we charged Chelsea, so that’s what they should charge us.”
O’Callaghan added: “I can’t afford to go tonight.
“I’m 54 and I’ve been priced out of watching my club.
“It’s a crying shame. The working class man has been priced out of watching football, and it’s not fair when players in the Premier League are being paid £150,000 a week.
“I know it’s only London, but you’re looking at £150 for a Saints fan to travel to Chelsea, pay to get in, and some food and drink.”
Nick Illingsworth, from the fans website UglyInside, said the cost of a ticket was also a primary factor for keeping him away from Stamford Bridge tonight.
“We went to Aston Villa last weekend and that was £35 for a ticket, plus about £30 to get there.
“Tonight it would cost £50 to get in, plus another £30 on travel if you have a railcard.
“That’s over £140 just to get to two away games and get in in the space of four days.
“I’m going to do what a lot of fans are doing, which is watch it in a pub in Southampton.”
Saints have two more away trips coming up at the end of the month, at Manchester United on a Wednesday and Wigan the following Saturday.
Though United is the more glamorous game, it is Wigan which could see the bigger Saints following – for price reasons as well as footballing ones.
“Tickets at United are £46 but at Wigan they are only £20,” said Illingsworth.
“Which one would you go to?” he asked. “Wigan is a far more important game for us.”
Illingsworth added: “We should all get behind the Football Supporters Federation who are lobbying the Premier League.
“Fans must stand up and say ‘enough is enough’.
“Grounds aren’t being filled as much as they used to be.
“When we played Reading in December the crowd was down on when we played them in the Championship last season.
“Though the game last April was more important at the time, it was live on Sky and Reading brought 3,000 fans.
“They brought less in December but still the attendance was down.”
Manchester City fans angered at Arsenal’s pricing policy face another huge cost later this month, meanwhile.
QPR are charging City fans £55, compared to Saints who are ‘only’ charging £38 for the champions’ visit to St Mary’s on February 9.
Kevin Parker of the City Supporters’ Group, said: “Some clubs are losing touch with the ordinary man.”