Date: 27th November 2007 at 2:59pm
Written by:

I suppose if you are young, single, living at home with the folks and working, this is probably a good time to be a Rovers fan!

Not necessarily because of how well we are doing but because potentially our next four games are all at home and in a very short space of time.

We`ve already had two home games this month, plus a local derby with Swindon Town . And watching the Rovers is not cheap these days.

I have a season ticket so I am shielded from the worst of the expense, up to a point. I am not the wealthiest fan in the stadium – far from it – and I really had to push the boat out to buy this year`s tickets from my sons and me. For the last time, I was entitled to a free ticket for my youngest son but even then it was £350 for my eldest son and me. And put simply, that`s right at the edge of what I can afford.

Rovers have certainly tried to some extent to ease the misery of increased prices. The Under 10s initiative was welcome, so were the reduced price tickets for the Orient replay. But put another way, you can see why some families are finding other things to do on a Saturday afternoon.

I don`t like sitting at football matches but with two young children it`s often preferable. But if I didn`t have a season ticket, and I wanted to just turn up on the day to watch the Rovers, it would cost me £44. Now, I think that is an awful lot of money to watch the third tier of football. It`s better than the fourth tier, I`ll grant you, but it`s not a cheap day out. Add the essentials like food, drink, programme and bus fare and it`s a very expensive day out.

One of the reasons given to justify large increases in ticket prices was the need to sign better players and to retain the ones we already had. I well remember one director who, when questioned about the large increases, replied, “Don`t you want Steve Elliott to stay?”

My answer to that was not simply yes or no. I liked Elliott and the enormous role he played in taking us up but to me he was not indispensable. I have no idea what he is being paid, and it`s none of my business, but the director`s rhetorical question implied, did it not, that it was a hefty wedge.

Apparently, the average football supporter is male and 43 years old. The clubs, we are told, want to change all that. They want to attract a new type of supporter, they want families back. And what do we do at the Rovers? We save the biggest increases for families who want to sit (in a temporary tent for goodness sake)! What a strategy. Let`s get the kids in by pricing them out of the ground. Brilliant. Don`t you want Steve Elliott to stay?

Friends of mine who do not have the burden/joy (delete where appropriate) of children tell me the Rovers pricing levels are fair and reasonable. And I agree with them. The Bass Terrace represents excellent value for the single person and that`s why it`s the most packed part of the stadium these days. Just look at the recent game against Millwall where there were gaping gaps on all the terraces and the tented sections. The Bass Terrace must have been packed out to take the crowd to anywhere near 7000 since those of us in the Guinness Tent thought it much lower.

The move to Cheltenham will stretch the pockets of many more people next season, not least the families who have been so badly hit with price rises. The prices will not be reduced for the trek Up North, so to speak, and do not be surprised with an inflation type rise unless you get a season ticket. £44 after a long drive battling through the gridlocked Cheltenham traffic is not my idea of a good value day out.

If we`re going to charge the earth, then let`s hope Geoff and the board look once again across the river to see if Mr Lansdown will allow us to stay there for a couple of years. I was once in the ‘over-my-dead-body` school of thought but the alternative, still red and white, is even worse.

I see that half season tickets will now be available for the second part of the season but they are hardly cheap. In fact, all they do is serve to remind you just how bloody expensive some parts of the stadium really are.

The best way to bring back some of the missing 35,000 who went to Wembley, but were then allowed to walk away, is by winning matches. (Don`t start me on that subject again. It was surely the biggest wasted opportunity in many decades at our club.)

Come the New Year, if Rovers are where they are now then gates will fall. £44 for the dad and two boys will not seem terribly attractive given the facilities of the Old Mem.

It`s imperative the board builds the new stadium but at the same time looks at ticket pricing. It`s inconceivable that prices will be lower when it`s finished – the exact opposite will probably be true.

Mr Man at 43 may be the average Rovers supporter and if that`s what the club wants – and I have seen precious little evidence to suggest anything else – then that`s what they will get.

It`s not forward thinking but that`s been the Rovers way. Something will turn up.

The stadium redevelopment is now nearly upon us. The doom and gloom mongers will soon have been proved as wrong as Nick Higgs` comedy predictions as to when the Section 106 agreements would be finally signed!

In six months, director Rodney King will be arriving at the Memorial Stadium with his demolition ball and the transformation will begin. The tatty old stadium will be a thing of the past, just like Barry Bradshaw`s moustache and (deleted for legal reasons)`s hair.

Oh happy day.

If, in 2010, we emerge in our new stadium, built on time and within budget, with the club debt free, I shall doff my metaphorical cap to the board for a job well done.

To do so, they will need to defy the worldwide credit crunch, the huge increases in construction costs and the biggest economic slowdown in well over 10 years.

But we are told everything is fine, there`s nothing to worry about, ignore the rumours to the contrary.

Well, we have no reason to disbelieve them at all. There is no evidence that they are going to cock it all up. We can rest assured this wonderful new stadium will be built.

Well done to Colin Williams for coming up with the idea and we hope it will be well done to the board for delivering it to the fans.

Me? I can`t wait to see it but I just hope I can afford the price of tickets. If it`s me or Steve Elliott, then sorry mate. You can play for someone else!

Finally, just a word for Geoff (no, not that word). This artical (sic) may be crap but why don`t you want people to read it? What are you so afraid of? Perhaps it`s that old expression:

The pen is mightier than the sword and much easier to write with!

Don`t have nightmares!


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