Stephen Cleeve: Lynn's ticket pricing explained

Stephen Cleeve watching on

King's Lynn Town owner Stephen Cleeve has explained his ticket pricing for The Walks - Credit: Ian Burt

Admission prices are never easy to set and yet they are vital to our prosperity.

At the level of King’s Lynn Town, the ticket price represents the bulk of the club’s income. Clearly, there is a fine balance between raising enough revenue to finance a decent football side and ensuring that fans are not priced out of watching their favourite team in action.

Last season our admission price was £20 for adults and £22 for a seat, with a £2 deduction for concessions. Children's entry was priced at £5.  This season the children’s price remains at £5 (although children’s season tickets were reduced from £100 to £40 giving a match day price of just £1.81). All other prices were raised by £1. However, this £1 does not go into the football budget but instead, minus VAT, will go towards repaying the debt incurred last season to keep us in the game. Our debt stands at around £535,000 and it will have to be paid back to the government over the next few years.

Our playing budget has increased again this season and now is now around 400pc cent higher than when I took over the club.

Our off-the-field budget, covering everything from the physio to the manager, has also increased by more than 700pc in the same period. In addition, the team now stays in hotels for several trips a year and player accommodation does not come cheaply. In the same period, the cost of match day admission has risen 110pc for adults (up from £10 to £21) and while crowds have increased we are still nowhere near break-even point. Anyone who wants to look at the figures can download our accounts from Companies House.

It is true that money does not buy success. Last season, Sutton, whose budget is close to our own, and Hartlepool proved that point. It comes down to decent recruitment and coaching on the pitch. The teams with the biggest budgets last season are still plying their trade in the National League.

Other clubs in our league, such as Grimsby, Barnet and Notts County, charge £22 on match days and Halifax match our own at £21, so despite what some will tell you by comparing our most expensive seat with another team's lowest price ticket, we are not the most expensive.

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Larger crowds mean we have to recruit external stewards, which costs a fortune, as well as employing extra medical staff. The mistake that many critics make is to work out what the club takes by multiplying the adult admission number by £21. The reality is somewhat different.

Firstly, VAT takes away 20pc; secondly, our attendance figure includes non-paying fans. For example, anyone playing in one of our junior age groups gets a free season ticket, as do all students who are on our academy course. Nor do scouts have to buy a ticket and the same applies to visiting directors and their guests. Players also get guest passes, as do the league and the league’s sponsors. I could go on, but you get the idea. Due to the above-the-average ticket price once combined with the £5 kids’ entry ticket does not match even the concession price.

A large crowd was inside The walks to see Lynn take on Southend

Gate receipts from paying fans are vital for the Linnets - Credit: Ian Burt

Last Saturday for our home game against Southend one fan opened our bar door with the result that several “supporters” gained free entry. We now have the additional cost of paying for an external security guard to stand on this door.  I cannot understand why anyone would want to steal from their club.

Three of my old Chelsea-supporting friends, whom I had not seen for 30 years, turned up at the opener against Southend. After enjoying the game, one remarked that although we’d had no money in those days, we never discussed the admission price. We simply supported our team, wherever in the world they played. 

I understand that life can be tough, which is why I reduced the children’s season ticket to a very affordable price to encourage the next generation of fans. We also run a scheme which gives complimentary admission on a no-questions-asked basis to people who cannot afford to come to the game. This scheme was sponsored by local estate agent Rounce and Evans and we are keeping it going this season.

For the vast majority of fans, it comes down to a simple choice: either fans can watch a team playing fixtures in the National League (fixtures that we could only dream about a few years ago), or would they rather save £4 or £5 and be playing lower down the pyramid? 

Media appointment

The appointment last week of Bafta-nominated Reg Clarke as Head of Media shows that we are alert to the need to improve our off-the-field performance. Those following the coverage on our YouTube channel would have seen a dramatic improvement in news output from The Walks in recent weeks.

While we never lose sight of the fact that the beautiful game takes place on the pitch, we need to remember that a huge amount of preliminary planning and hard work is required to enable that to happen. It is not as simple as it seems, but we will keep on striving to give Linnet fans the best deal we can afford.

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