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Crowd Collapse Spells Danger For Boro

Posted by on September 25, 2006 1:56 PM | 

IN SPINAL Tap there is a moment when the spandex clad hairies explain that their tour being downsized from massive stadiums to cosy 3,000 capacity halls is because they "are being much more selective about their audience."

That is where we are now with Boro. The once trendy football phenomona has been forgotten by the fickle fashionistas now the glamour has worn off and is now left with just the downsized hardcore audience. Less than 25,000 for a Premier League game at the prime time of a non-televised Saturday afternoon? Don't worry, Middlesbrough isn't a big football town anyway.

The 24, 959 crowd for Blackburn Rovers was the third worst ever for a league game at the Riverside. Portsmouth, the game before, was the second worst behind the 23,189 at home to Charlton in February 2002. Those marks will go this season. We've still got the ratings-killers that are the Robins, Watford and Bolton to come.

Boro now have a massive problem. Yes it a nationwide issue and fans everywhere are walking away from over-priced turgid football where multi-millionaires with limited talent mark time in a league they can never hope to win but at Boro the gates are falling further and faster than anywhere else and at a time of unprecedented success.

The lads from the estates who once formed the beating heart of the Holgate are now watching the game from the really cheap seats, pint in hand in the pub, shouting and swearing and smoking with their mates. And you can't blame them. What is the alternative for them? Paying walk-up prices of £30 to sit in a sterile atmosphere where the only way they can talk to their friends scattered around the ground is by text.

The Rovers and Portsmouth marks will become the norm this season. For a club that five years ago rarely dipped below 30,000 regular gates of 24,000 will mean a major financial readjustment. That and a lack of small screen action may mean that soon Keith Lamb's prediction that Teesside will get "the team it can afford" could start to become a reality.

The club will have to bite the bullet and look at far more creative pricing and marketing strategies. This summer Boro reacted to an impending collapse in season tickets sales by slashing prices for juniors and that has been a resounding success and has held the core figure at a respectable 22,000 - although it has disguised a problematic desertion of full whack paying Red Bookers in their 40s and 50s.

But that is not where the main battleground lies. The most loyal fans will always go. It is the floaters, the casuals, yes 'the part-timers', who make or break a club. They can make the difference between breaking even and raking it in and between an average atmosphere and a bouncing one. Boro must regain the hearts and minds of that layer of 10 to 20,000 fans who would go in the right circumstances and at the right price.

It is not just an economic issue. Smaller crowds do mean less revenue but the TV cash can compensate for that. But smaller crowds also dent the atmosphere, undermine the feel-good factor and send out signals that all is not well. A buoyant crowd is a narcotic that attracts fans to games as much as the football. It is an integral part of the product.

The club must act quickly to arrest the slide before it leads to a meltdown and pushes Boro's crowd down towards its 'natural' level below the 20,000 barrier.

Comments (40)

John Stone wrote...

Good article,Anthony.

It is very dissapointing to lose 4,000 season ticket holders when 5 months ago we were in the UEFA cup final.
Steve Gibson must wonder what he has to do to get people to turn up.

Many people said they would never go back until McClaren left. Now he has gone even fewer are turning up !

We also have to be realistic. We are an unfashionable club , the media have ensured this with consistently negative reporting, and ensuring there is never or rarely a kind word for the Boro.

Every match home and away in the Premiership is on in a number of pubs throughout Teesside so with your Council Tax, gas and electric and petrol rocketing who can blame people.

Success for the Boro is getting to a cup final or qualifying for the UEFA Cup,and we have been in five cup finals and had two seasons in the UEFA cup in 10 years so thats not bad !

Posted by: John Stone  | September 25, 2006 3:11 PM

Ian Taylor wrote...

football is over priced and over televised (which also brings the unpopular kick off times ).

People will inevitably pick and choose matches, with cup ties which are set at short notice and represent additional cost for season ticket holders, the most vulnerable. Form is temporary but bad runs don't help.

Discount televised matches and cup ties and build these discounts into season ticket structures.

Posted by: Ian Taylor  | September 25, 2006 3:26 PM

Ian Gill wrote...

Try sensible football related policies like a settled formation and players in the right position.

Oh and try and be on the pitch when the whistle blows at the start.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | September 25, 2006 3:29 PM

Nigel wrote...

The answer is simple, when we start to win consistently again at home and play attractive football then the crowds will go up.

Posted by: Nigel  | September 25, 2006 4:01 PM

red_rebel wrote...

I don't think the quality of football has a lot to do with it. I think the economics and culture of football has swung against Boro just when we should be riding high. Typical bad timing.

Prices are a massive factor. The cost of tickets has gone up an average 7% ayear over the last decade. How much have wages on Teesside risen? No matter how big a fan you are there comes a point where it simply is out of reach.

When you factor in the cost of new houses, new families, kids at university, expensive divorces etc then there is a lot of external financial pressure on supporters. It doesn't surprise me that older fans are walking away because they have more balls to keep in the air.

But it is a lack of atmosphere too: seating; heavy stewarding; groups being split up and scattered around the ground with no chance of congregating because of season ticket holders set in stone; people leaving at key phases of play to get burgers and cokes disturbing evryone with their infuriating scuze mate,scuse mate, sorry shuffling along the row; no smoking, no drinking, no swearing, no standing, no sleeping... the creeping paralysis of the modern stadium all helps kill what should be a dynamic collective experience.

Against that you have the pleasures of going to the pub with a group of mates, couple of pints and a chat and a bit of the crack you used to get on the Holgate without being told to shut up or sit down and no queue for the toilet or the underpass.

I think the game is up. Now you have to have more money than sense to stump up for a Red Book. Crowds will continue to fall until the game realises that it has lost touch with its roots and then is a major reality check.


Posted by: red_rebel  | September 25, 2006 4:37 PM

John Powls wrote...

I agree with all that Vic says above - and again these have been treasured themes on this blog and elsewhere for many months - and rightly so.

The club have responded in some ways but there is more to do. Of course it's to do with performance on the pitch as well as marketing but it has to start with the product on the pitch.

To take another Spinal Tap reference, if we gave consistent home performances (not always winning, that's daft) 'turned up to 11' that would be a product worth buying - and folks would buy it, in numbers.

In economics terms willingness to buy is always based on how much the punter values the product. The product here is primarily what's on the pitch though the experience wrapped round it comes a close second - particularly the bits that involve mates and families.

On that value for money on the pitch basis you can start to do all the smart marketing things that get folks there and keeps them there and secures the interest of the younger fan of the future. The better the crowd and the atmosphere the easier it is to 'turn up to 11' on the field, so the whole thing feeds itself. So does the opposite, downward spiral.

I do realise as I type this that the inclusion of the words 'smart marketing' in the context of Boro's commercial management is certainly oxymoronic if not just plain moronic, but there you go.

Most companies in the commercial world would give their eye-teeth for the brand and customer loyalty and exposure that a Prem club gets. Most would also find very good ways to exploit that to widen and deepen the customer base. The double edged sword is that for this to work the product needs to be worth buying.

Posted by: John Powls  | September 25, 2006 5:17 PM

beeline wrote...

" The lads from the estates who once formed the beating heart of the Holgate are now watching the game from the really cheap seats, pint in hand in the pub, shouting and swearing and smoking with their mates. And you can't blame them. What is the alternative for them? Paying walk-up prices of £30 to sit in a sterile atmosphere where the only way they can talk to their friends scattered around the ground is by text. "

I cut this para out before reading red's piece which fills in the detail. What more needs to be said.

Of course crowds will go up and down echoing the team's success or failure, but the overall trend will continue downwards. I believe that there is little that individual clubs can do. The lead must come rom the top, but as with many other areas in life, the vested interests are likely to act only when it's too late.

Posted by: beeline  | September 25, 2006 6:55 PM

AndyJ wrote...

Couldn't agree more with the red rebel comments. Football is now overpriced and the entertainment factor is at best questionable. The corporate big wigs took a strangle hold on the game a few years ago and now the majority of clubs are feeling the backlash. The premier league is too predicatable with the majority of teams playing not to lose rather than trying to win. 4-5-1 at home says it all !!

Posted by: AndyJ  | September 25, 2006 7:35 PM

chrissy mac wrote...

Gareth Southgate should have been assistant manager. The reason for this is that he was already at the club. Players who were not giving 100% last year will be the same this year and Gareth wouldnt know the difference.

When you get a new manager everybody raises the game 30%, its human instinct to try and impress. They dont need to with Gareth has he was already there.

Iit was a totaly bad move by Steve Gibson to give Gareth the job although im not doubting in years to come he may be a usefull manager. So sorry Gareth the jobs just to much to soon. To be quite honest Middlesbrough fc is too big a club for you at the moment so do the right thing before its to late. come on boro

Posted by: chrissy mac  | September 25, 2006 7:36 PM

Ian Gill wrote...

More time to post but I stick by my basic point.

The reasons behind fallen gates are many, we are in the same boat as Bolton. Blackburn, Charlton where we know there are biggers clubs than us. In terms of drawing power we are below mid table and those other clubs would be glad of our attendances. TV, other attractions, smoking bans, shuffled kick off times, pricing, other attractions.

I will return to something i was told before I took my son fishing. Take him somewhere he will catch a fish, get him excited and let him achieve something. It is simple marketing, make the product saleable. You can give all the goodies you want but if the core product is pants all the rest is a waste of time and money.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | September 25, 2006 8:39 PM

The Lurking Magpie wrote...

Good article... the disappearing crowds will not be just a Middlesbrough thing though.

Clubs have to realise that once people lose the habit of going to games it is difficult to get them to return.

Posted by: The Lurking Magpie  | September 25, 2006 9:02 PM

Wayne Taylor wrote...

I read this article and the truth hits home. However i believe there are many fans out there that are letting the Boro down, i.e. the fans who go early, the fans who boo the players [for example Stuart Parnaby got heckled throughout the game on Saturday, even some idiot behind me was screaming for Southgate to be sacked].

In football, as unpredictable as it can be, things take time, well unless your Chelsea and have billions to spend.

To build a successful club you need supporters who will support through thick and thin, only the small majority of fans do this.

Come on Boro fans, I drive from Manchester, costs £20 plus a time, plus ticket price, plus drinks etc at the game, and no I am on no mega salary just on the UK average.

I also agree that the Boro could also do something to get bums on seats. After Christmas why not do a sale on Season Tickets half a season for £200 but you get two tickets for the price of one. We need the supporters there to get behind the game. Remember supporters = extra revenue elsewhere

Come on Boro are you listening.

I am getting sick and tired of driving down from Manchester seeing a team that just don't have the right attitude to play, what if I had the same attitude one morning not to go to the game as well as another 20,000 season ticket holders?

Posted by: Wayne Taylor  | September 26, 2006 7:25 AM

Nigel wrote...

From a financial point of view I can't see that loosing 4000 fans a week will have a huge impact, I reckon that equates to somewhere like 2.3 million pounds over a season, which in the context of the Sky money which is about to rocket upward is not that significant.

The biggest impact is on the atmosphere in the stadium. So Boro need to increase crowds by prehaps cutting prices and with special promotions. That way the club wii get the crowd that the team deserves........

Oh and at the risk of repeating myself if we play two strikers at home that may send out a possitive message that we are going to try and score some goals!

Posted by: Nigel  | September 26, 2006 10:11 AM

Mac wrote...

Its so easy to go into my local as every game home & away is on! I have 4 kids so for the price of the matchday seat I find it hard to be able to afford it (Plus buses,beer etc) I can have a few pints & a bar meal 3 mins from my house for half the price!

Posted by: Mac  | September 26, 2006 10:11 AM

red_rebel wrote...

For me the most economically stupid thing is the way that non-season ticket holders are actively discouraged by the pricing structures.

Take the big games against Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal where causal fans may just want to come, or dads may be under pressure to take the kids. Then prices for unsold seats are actually RAISED. Unsold capacity and the price goes up. Talk about a disincentive. That is ridiculous.

It goes back to the days when the Riverside was pretty much sold out and those seats were at a premium. Now you can't give them away - not at £31/19 quid for the dad and lad. No chance. It is commercial stupidity.

The problem Boro have is that ST are so heavily discounted and they are worried that if they cut prices for part-timers then the Red Bookers may kick off. They must be more cute about it. But they must slash the massive price differential and get casual fans in at the same £20.or so as ST holders pay in the South Stand.

To pacify ST they should offer more discounts - early cup games free or heavily discounted at least, or offer a real membership/loyalty scheme that gives ST and away travel a real benefit.

If the club take no action on thise then so the non-St will be priced out or resentful or simply out of the habit of going. If we do nothing crowds will be ST and no-one else.

Posted by: red_rebel  | September 26, 2006 10:33 AM

Ian Gill wrote...

Yet more thoughts but of little hope.

The people have left for a number of reasons, as said elsewhere getting them back is another matter.

Certainly some sensible pricing may help but the danger is alienating the season ticket holders. I dont know the maths of the situation but if possible let the walk up fans pay the same for Man U as Blackburn. The better standard of football may attract more fans to other matches. Build up points by attending matches which then results in a discounted ticket - like a season ticket in reverse.

All the irritations over the years, many unaddressed, have built up and now we have been playing badly since Xmas 04 the fans have voted with their feet.

First of all, back to my first point, do exactly what Gate said he would do on taking over or the rest is a waste of time.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | September 26, 2006 11:14 AM

J.C. Marske wrote...

There are lots of reasons for fans turning away from attending football matches all well documented. I will add a couple more.

I used to go to 1/2 of Middlesbrough's away games but I am now priced out of the market by many of the home teams that charge high ticket prices for away fans.
Three going to an away game is now about £100 plus petrol and parking, a prime example the Reading game although I enjoyed the experience.

You can now watch the game on Middle East TV, a round of drinks for three £6, no entrance fee no travelling and quite frankly quite a good atmosphere. Why be ripped off?

The real sickener for me is the exorbitant fees paid to agents, money that is going straight out of the game to give them a life style we fans can only dream of. It is these parasites that cause all the unrest among many of the players they want them to be moving all the time so they can get a cut of the fee. When you hear that one agent was supposidly paid £500K to arrange a contract extension for a player. you wonder why you bother.

It is not the same game I started watching 61 years ago when you started the season thinking you had a chance of winning the first division title. Now it will be contested by three or four teams only.

Posted by: J.C. Marske  | September 26, 2006 12:58 PM

gm2 wrote...

Good article, and good points made by all contributors. The problem is endemic to most, if not all Premiership clubs. Perhaps, the game needs to hit the 'tipping point' and implode for normality, commercial acumen & good old common sense to save the day.

Given all of this, it is no surprise the lower league attendences are on the increase...wonder why?

Posted by: gm2  | September 26, 2006 12:59 PM

rod wrote...

It is out of Boro's hands. The wider issue is the game itself. The product is stale & clubs like Boro will beg for scraps of glory.

Bring back standing areas & allow people the chance to let off steam. It really isn't fun at the ground.

Posted by: rod  | September 26, 2006 1:29 PM

Paul wrote...

I cannot fault people for staying away from the ground. How do they (the club) expect us the Teesside public to pay week in week out these prices when some of the players are on 30k a week - the average annual wage in teesside is well below that figure.

Yet you see primadonnas swanning about the riverside turf picking their wage packet up when they dont deserve it in the slightest. I think the club needs to get a grip, off load the hangers on in the club and keep on playing the youth. Thats what we wont to see a bit of passion and steel.

Posted by: Paul  | September 26, 2006 2:25 PM

Scotty wrote...

I do not accept that cost prevents the majority of fans from turning up. My season ticket cost £390 = £7.50 per week. Even the unemployed can afford that I'm sure, and I speak from experience.

No, the reason paying customers have deserted Boro is because they are not Boro fans as in fanatics. They are glory boys. Go when the going is good. Go when Man utd visit.

A fanatic quite happily puts his money into the club as an investment. The fickle glory boys will get the club they deserve in a lower league. Top marks to the true fans though - respect.

Posted by: Scotty  | September 26, 2006 4:02 PM

Ian Gill wrote...

Scotty

Cost is but one part of the equation but to underestimate it is dangerous.

What is important is value for money and every person is different. If there are two or three of you, people may look at the cost and think they would rather take the family away for a week and enjoy time together. Doesnt stop them being Boro fans, doesnt stop them wanting the club to win or seeing the odd match.

There are a whole range of things that are interelated and cost is but one of them. What you can be certain is that if the quality of the product isnt there then people may be disinclined to dip into their pockets.

People can afford many things, they will tend to spend their money on something they enjoy.

As somebody who has supported Boro at Belle Vue, Feethams, Brunton Park, the County Ground, Saltergate, Meadow Lane as well the fashionable grounds I dont need a lesson in whether I am a fan or not.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | September 26, 2006 4:37 PM

Roy Wugwell wrote...

Speaking as an ex-Ayresomite. As many as 24000! to sit in a windswept bowl with much less atmosphere than a dentist's waiting-room.

Ayresome Park was in Middlesbrough, on the streets, round the corner. This new place with it's banal name, bad statues & ludicrously sited reminder of Ayresome's greatness, is on a scrap of wasteland between the railway & the river. A true wilderness.

Tear it down build a ground with a bit of soul, somewhere that says 'This is Middlesbrough' & not a nowheresville trying to pass itself of as Derby or Southampton.

Posted by: Roy Wugwell  | September 26, 2006 6:18 PM

ste wrote...

I see the fulham game has now been switched to monday for sky. People have booked up trains to come back Sunday or Monday and less fans can go as it moved to a weeknight and now on TV. There lies the problem. It is slowly chipping away at the fans and evenually the fans have enough.

Posted by: ste  | September 26, 2006 8:51 PM

peter dodds wrote...

red army

Posted by: peter dodds  | September 26, 2006 10:20 PM

chrissy mac wrote...

if the club is so worried about the financial side with the falling gates why diddnt they bring back Tony Mowbray as manager. he would of filled the ground.

To be honest he has a lot more experience than Southgate as a manager. He definately would lifted everybody around the club just the tonic we need realy and i have no doubt whatsoever he would jump at the chance of managing this club. I honestly believe he dreams of it.

Dont leave it too late Boro. Who nows he might even do a good job. one thing is for sure he wouldnt put up with none triers.

Posted by: chrissy mac  | September 26, 2006 11:01 PM

Neil (Baku) wrote...

Vic,

I guess I would be bracketed as a die hard supporter in that I buy a season ticket come what may, go to any game I can when I am home on leave, buy my shirt every season, but recently I admit to questioning the logic in this.

I look back and draw parallels with the clubs demise after the Charlton era which ultimately led to the locking of the Ayresome gates in 1986. I am not saying that this will happen again, but it is simple in my mind, that unless you entertain on the pitch then the paying public will seek to spend their money elsewhere.

There is no joy in going to a match to watch 2nd rate football being played out by players who have no real passion for the club and its supporters in a stadium devoid of atmosphere, and inevitably leaving the ground more depressed than when you entered it.

I simply don't look forward to a game anymore as I did back in the 70's, 80's and 90's, even with all the up's and downs of those era's. And it's not just when I'm at home, I dread turning up at the pub here in Baku, not knowing what is about to unfold on the pitch, seeing last weeks team selection and hearing the groans for my fellow expat Boro fans before a ball is even kicked.

There is no fun in supporting Boro anymore, it's becoming a chore for a lot of fans, die hards like me included. I can count on the fingers of one hand the games that have truly excited me since the Carling Cup win in Cardiff, that's the crux of it.

I don't know the answer, there are too many variables to begin to analyse what's gone wrong at Boro, but for sure the Riverside Revolution started by Robbo is dead and buried, the impetus lost, and we are not going to find it easy to get that feeling back.

Ticket price deals, dad & lad combo's, free bovril and pork pies, and any other scheme are not going to get that stadium full again. If the product on the pitch is worth it, the fans will pay, if not they won't, simple as that.

Posted by: Neil (Baku)  | September 27, 2006 9:16 AM

Scotty wrote...

I work in Aberdeen and only got to see 11 home games last season, but I still renewed my season ticket because I want the club to compete in the Premier.

A sell out crowd = money = better players. If fans stop going = no money = poor players = relegation.

You have to ask yourself what you want and if you want to be in the premier you got to buy the season ticket. £7.50/week is all it costs!

To be honest with you, I agree its awful to watch these days, but you either love the Boro or you don't. A fanatic or a follower. Your choice.

Posted by: Scotty  | September 27, 2006 12:06 PM

Hairyoldfart wrote...

I'm one of those "part timers" or "floaters" that people here are writing about.

I had a season ticket from their introduction right up to the point we moved to the Riverside, then I gave it up due to work and home commitments. That's right I was one of the famous 5000 so I've seen the worst of times and the best.

On Saturday, however, I watched a bunch of overpaid and under commited average players steal good money from me. I drive for 2 hours to get to the game, pay too much to get in, watch 90 minutes of well below average football and drive 2 hours home again vowing not to do that again in a hurry.

Someone needs to shake the club up, even the Manager gives the appearance of indifference to the poor quality of the product by standing largely inanimate on the touch line, unable to decide whether he's still a player or not by wearing an away top.

Come on Mr Gibson, have a word. Get some of your legendary enthusiasm for the club instilled into your vastly over rated and over paid staff!

Posted by: Hairyoldfart  | September 27, 2006 12:23 PM

Graham wrote...

I honestly don't think it's down to money. Are people on merseyside much more affluent than people on Teesside? What about Tyneside?

It is simply down to product. For the first time in two years, I went along on Saturday and bought a ticket for my nephew as it was his birthday.

I have to say that as soon as I heard the team, watched the formation line up, I just KNEW we were in trouble. KNEW IT!! Immediately, you are on the backfoot. The crowd senses it's going to be a turgid affair so they cannot raise themselves and the atmsophere is dead.

If Southgate had played two strikers, two proper wingers and tore into them, and even if we lost, I might consider going again and so would the other 'lingerers' who went along.

It will be a long time before I go again, simply because of the awful football Southgate played. I can afford it, but I will not pay to watch football like that. Simple as that. And I think many people feel like that. Teesside has always been a relatively economically deprived area but we didn't have problems selling out under the Robson era.

Gibson made a huge error in selecting Southgate; we all know that. To me, the situation will worsen; the football, the results, the attendances etc etc.

To sum up, if O'Neill had been appointed (as he should have been) we would, I think, not be in this position.

Posted by: Graham  | September 27, 2006 12:50 PM

Nigel wrote...

Gareth made a mistake with his formation and selection against Blackburn. Mistakes are allowed as long as they aren't repeated. We'll be able to judge the impact the defeat had on him at the next home game.

One other thought the idea that Ayersome was a ground with a hot house atmosphere is a total myth. It had its moments for the 'big' games but the atmosphere at the Riverside can be fantastic. Its nothing to do with the stadium its the people in it (or not) that make the atmosphere.

I'm over the Blackburn defeat now and up for the Sheffield game. One request to GS please play TWO strikers!

Posted by: Nigel  | September 27, 2006 1:46 PM

Nigel Empson (Mumbai) wrote...

The reasons for falling gates are many and inter-related, most of which have already been covered by everyone else. At the end of last season we were at a crossroads with the departure of the (unpopular) Steve McClaren.

The club had finished a disappointing 14th in the League, lost in the semi-final of the FA Cup and lost in the UEFA Cup Final. There was a real sense of expectation however that the club could kick-on and become a top six side challenging for a place in the Champions League - Steve Gibson voiced this belief, and this ambition.

The subsequent weeks saw a succession of top bosses fail to commit. Of these Martin O'Neill offered a virtual guarantee of further progress, however it seems his insistence on bringing in his own team resulted in no agreement being reached. Eventually Gareth Southgate was appointed.

Gareth's inexperience and the furore around his lack of qualifications, together with the repeated early failures in the transfer market, led to expectations being significantly revised downwards: this has inevitably contributed to lower attendances. The die was cast before the season started.

Had Steve Gibson been able to appoint Martin O'Neill, then - given that our squad was significantly stronger than that of Aston Villa - the upward momentum would have been maintained, the expectations would have been high, and the results would undoubtedly have been better.

The club was past the stage in its development when an inexperienced manager could take it forward, whether that was Gareth Southgate, Roy Keane or anybody else, and everyone knew this. Given all of the above, wouldn't it be ironic if in the coming months Steve Round decides to pursue his managerial ambitions somewhere else

Posted by: Nigel Empson (Mumbai)  | September 27, 2006 2:34 PM

Ady wrote...

I agree with a lot of the points that have been made. I would pay if i thought i'd have a chance of enjoying the match, whether it be against Man Utd or Watford.

From what i've seen so far, i don't believe Southgate was the right choice as manager. The difference with Boro fans to other teams is that we won't tolerate paying to see rubbish every week, unlike Sunderland and Newcastle fans.

Posted by: Ady  | September 27, 2006 4:31 PM

Michael wrote...

I havent actually been to the Riverside because I now live in Melbourne Australia, but I went to just about every game at Ayresome Park.

I remember when it was freezing cold huddled together at the Holgate End, smoke wafting in the breeze and the steaming cup of bovril that I use to buy, and although the team were not superstars they where putiing in superstar performances most of the time and occasionally getting trounced.

But now the riverside seems to be more sterile and the players dont even give a damn (well most of them anyway.) One cheap way Riverside could ease the pain would be to put on free buses. that pick you up and drop you off at certain points.

This would help the parking situation in and around the Riverside, friends could have a crack before and after the game and supporters would get better value for money, Middlesbrough would probably increase tickets sales.

It is better to have a tax deduction than to lose sales, because if you lose the sales you may never get them back, no matter how cheap you maKe tickets. Middlesbrough should be looking at value adding to make the supporting experience more pleasurable.

Posted by: Michael  | September 28, 2006 12:05 AM

Ian Gill wrote...

The last week has certainly motivated the fans into expressing views as shown by the blogs and message boards. Let us hope that the Boro exert the same amount of energy at Sheffield come Saturday.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | September 28, 2006 2:05 PM

macca wrote...

I had a season ticket all my life untill this season and at this time i know ive made the right decision. Im off to malaga for 2 weeks with the money

Posted by: macca  | September 28, 2006 2:58 PM

Pinkers wrote...

Well I think all the main points have been covered but here's my tuppeneth.

Personally I rarely go to games any more for two inextricably linked reasons. Firstly the price is extortionate, and despite having a decent job, by the time I have paid the mortgage and all the other rapidly inflating bills, I cannot afford to go to the match. And I ceratainly couldn't afford the outlay of a season ticket.

The second reason is the utterly dire level of football we have been playing since the end of the Robson era. If there was a chance we would actually set about teams, attack, and actually look interested I would give up other luxuries such as the occasional take away or meal out to go to the match more regularly.

Unfortunately value for money at Boro, (all the Prem in fact) is non-existant and every time I do go to a match, (like Blackburn on Saturday), I am rewarded with an utterly inept, disinterested performance from 'professionals' who 'earn' more in a week than I do in a year.

Going to the match just spoils your week these days.
Football needs an enormous kick up the arse, but what's needs to change is really very obvious:

1. Capped wages
2. Affordable tickets
3. Standing areas

Do that and fans will come back. It's not difficult.

Posted by: Pinkers  | September 28, 2006 3:12 PM

Doug wrote...

Why oh Why did Southgate play only one attacker against Blackburn? You might expect it for away games maybe,but not home games where we need to attack.

It does not work, one attacker. You dont have to be a football genius to work that one out. Come on Gareth, play the exciting football you promised us.

The best games in recent years were the two come back games last year in the UEFA cup, a front line of not three but four attackers, brilliant stuff.

Get a grip soon Gareth. Play those players on form not the ones that get the biggest wage packets?????

Posted by: Doug  | September 28, 2006 8:47 PM

Tony Johnstone wrote...

Red Rebel is right about the matchday prices for A games being commercial suicide. The strategy flies in the face of the laws of supply and demand.

I would not describe them as being premium prices, punitive is a more accurate description because that is the intent behind this mad anachronistic policy.

It is intended to punish those who pick and choose their matches and the author of such a silly strategy is Steve Gibson.

Posted by: Tony Johnstone  | September 29, 2006 12:46 PM

Steve Harkin wrote...

The best way to improve the atmosphere would be to have standing areas. You can meet your mates in the ground and not be seperated all over the place. But that's not going to happen.

There should be certain sections of the ground where tickets cost 10 to 15 pounds. That's a fair price. You can still charge people 30 pounds to sit near the halfway line and make even more money with corporate entertainment.

Your ticket for the match should also include free public transport throughout the whole Teesside area.

These aren't my ideas. They're commonplace in Germany.

Posted by: Steve Harkin  | October 2, 2006 10:42 PM

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