New Newcastle United CEO, Darren Eales has been speaking to the media this week about Newcastle fans, commercial revenue, and the plans for the future.
Eales’ history in creating Atlanta United from scratch and counting on the fans to guide him along the way is the perfect template to ensure that he and the rest of the board make the right decisions at Newcastle. The power of the Toon Army is definitely not lost on Eales either, as he said: “It was funny watching the Arsenal game at the end of last season in the United States, knowing I was going to be coming here. You could see Arsenal visibly wilt that day because of the energy and passion inside the stadium.” (Via The Chronicle)
With Newcastle’s aims being to get back to playing European football and the spending that is required to do that, many fans are worried that the easiest way for a club to increase revenue is to hike up ticket prices, but Darren Eales was quick to quell those fears: “Now, we also have to get to a level where we want to be able to grow and support the team on the pitch as much as we possibly can, so we have to be smart in how we’re bringing in commercial revenues.
“But the reality is, that doesn’t just mean we ratchet up the prices right around the ground to price people out because that would be crazy.
“We have to be thinking about what we can do, and where are there abilities for us to create an experience that people maybe are prepared to pay a higher price for because it’s delivering value? If people want to pay that, we want them to be able to have that ability. But we also don’t want to be pricing out huge swathes of our fanbase.”
Would A Price Rise Make You Re-Think Your Season Ticket?
Not if it's for the right reasons.
Yes. Things are tight enough as is.
So while price increases haven’t been completely ruled out, it does look as though any increase would have to be justified by improvements on the pitch first so that fans feel like they’re getting their money’s worth. With the cost of living crisis gripping the country by the throat, to just jump in and pump up prices now would be commercial suicide and it’s clear the owners and the board know this.
As has already been hinted at, the idea of selling off the naming rights to St James’ Park is one that is back in the frame as a way to increase revenue. And while the last name change didn’t go down well with fans, that was down to the fact that they weren’t consulted on the change, and that it was more just to turn SJP into a giant billboard for Sports Direct instead of an actual way of increasing revenues.
This time around, fans are more receptive to a name change because it is being done for the right reasons and is being handled correctly, and as Darren Eales has reiterated, the fans will be consulted on the process: “There has to be a trade-off. If we want to be creating that atmosphere, there may be some opportunities where we talk to the supporters and say, ‘Look, we want to do this – are you guys okay with it because it’s going to help us bring in extra revenue?’
“We need to compete, but that doesn’t mean we have to double the season-ticket prices or price people out of the ground.”