After the club announced a last week ago that either an improved TV deal or an increase of 1000 fans on top of our core of support of 3500 would help the club break even, it got me thinking, what can the club do to entice fans to flock back to Dens Park?
I know the obvious answer. A winning side on the pitch that plays pretty, flowing football that thrills the fans and sends them home happy. That’s the dream and for the foreseeable future, it will no doubt remain just that, a dream.
I suspect that the bulk of the 3500 fans that purchase season tickets do so like a creature of habit and I include myself in that group. That’s all fine and dandy but how do the club build on that, especially with attracting new younger fans that will become the next generation of Dundee.
Firstly, I’ll look at any incentives the club could be looking at as ‘extras’ with purchasing a season ticket.
There’s lots that can be explored by the club. We could extend the early bird period, maybe run competitions at the end of every week where five people who have purchased tickets receive a gift such as vouchers for the club shop, a home or away shirt, DEETV subscription or hospitality. Each person that wins could be invited to Dens to collect their prize and meet the players and management. Then for the reminder of the season, the same can be done at the end of every month.
All these ideas could be advertised with fans believing they might potentially get more for their money if their name is drawn out the hat. It won’t add a 1000 more fans onto the gate but it’s a step in the right direction and would look like they are thinking of fans.
Who remembers a few years back when our season tickets came with offers such as attending certain Dundee Stars games throughout their season along with special food offers for the DCA, The Fort etc? Could this be used again and more importantly, could they add more interest?
The club can also up their PR game, something that I feel they lack massively. Compared to some of the clubs around us, I feel the publicity for selling this seasons tickets was below par and even for half season tickets, any mention seemed sporadic.
They should be mentioning this every day from the day they go on sale to the very last day. They have no right to do this but would reaching out to unofficial sites such as The Dark Blues and asking them to advertise season tickets relentlessly be such a bad thing? This site is the place for Dundee fans to visit and would be a fantastic source for getting free advertisement.
Go the whole hog. Create video packages, have various players giving interviews while plugging season tickets, speak about the greats of yesteryear to create a sense of nostalgia, pull at the heart strings with emotional blackmail in the hope of selling a few more books. Have the owners, managers and even ask the fans to come out speaking about their hopes for the season. Interact as much as possible and make it feel special.
Add any of these along with holding events in the Bobby Cox concourse or outside it if the weather permits during match days, which could attract more families who will see it not just as a game of football but more of a day out that they look forward to.
Finally let's speak about the pricing of the overall product.
For a start, the pricing of season tickets and Pay at the Gate (PATG) are far too expensive for a city like Dundee. It’s no secret that poverty is a problem in this city and at £385 a pop to buy an adult season ticket, that price far outstretches most people’s budget. There is the finance option but who’s to say that everyone has the credit score to be accepted. That leaves the old PATG
Unfortunately, the PATG price tends to creep up each year to the point that I applaud any fan who can afford to walk up to Dens and pay either £24 for a category B game against Hamilton or £26 for a category A against Celtic.
For me, the season ticket prices should be vastly lower than £385. Would a more economical price of £300 see an upsurge in sales? Would saying ‘£20 is plenty’ see more fans deciding to pay on the day? There’s no guarantee these prices would attract more fans back but until we at least try to do something, I fear we will only see smaller crowds as the years roll by.
Comparing our prices for the 2014/15 season an early bird renewal for an adult ticket would have set you back £300 while a new customer would have to pay £320. At the end of the early bird period it would then cost £340. Now you are between £340 and £360, depending on what early bird period you buy your ticket, and then a whopping £385 which is the normal sale price.
The U18's price hasn't jumped much, the same as the price of an U12 ticket but for an OAP, the price for a normal ticket has jumped from £170 to £265. I'm sorry but that's a ridiculous and unnecessary price hike.
I applaud the board for backing our managers with the aim of reaching the top six in the Premiership and ploughing ahead with their ambitious stadium plans up at Camperdown but I really get the feeling that they are out of touch when it comes to what we fans can afford to attend football in this city.
Credit where credit is due, they offered kids tickets for just £1 when purchased with an adult season ticket this year and that was fantastic and hopefully that continues on for the many moons to come. They have also done well with the Bobby Cox family ticket but other than that, it feels like they are trying to get the as much cash out of the paying adult.
We all want a competitive side challenging on the pitch but firstly and most importantly, we need to make attending Dens Park more affordable for fans old and new.