It’s the time of year for season ticket renewals and with price rises on the agenda On Top Of The Moon takes a look at what some of the reasons might be for the increases and what it could mean for the club.
The actual figures haven’t been released but some rough calculations based on the quoted average uplift suggest increases (excluding concessions) in the order of:
- £35 for Platinum season ticket holders
- £43 for Gold
- £37 for Silver
- £30 for Bronze
That would leave each season ticket holder paying around the following for each of their 14 matches:
- £25 for Platinum
- £20-£21 for Gold
- £17-£18 for Silver
- £14 for Bronze
So why the increases?
Professional rugby is an expensive business
It costs the SRU around £24m annually to operate the international and professional tier of the game – a figure that has essentially increased by £1m per year for at least the last 5 seasons. Included within that are budgets just for players at Glasgow (£5.1m) and Edinburgh (£4.8m). This area of the game is far from self-sustaining – since rugby union went pro over 20 years ago the revenues generated by the Test side have been subsidising costs incurred to keep elite players in Scotland. The issue here is the limited scope for making more money from an already packed international calendar.
Costs are increasing significantly
Big increases in TV money accruing to the French and English clubs (through domestic deals and the reshaped European Cup agreements) are inflating wage costs. With money to burn they can offer the cream of Scottish talent big pay rises to move. Warding off that kind of attention means extra cash – contract renewals for some of Glasgow’s key internationals have been rumoured to be in the range of £220k to a top bracket of £375k. This would put these players up towards the level of some of the best paid players in France. Quite simply though that’s the kind of money these players can command and what the SRU will need to pay to hold on to their top men – and right now there are more of those top men plying their trade with the Warriors.
Capacity is restricted
Glasgow have done everything they can to add more seating and standing within the current limitations of Scotstoun but have maxed out at an attendance of 7,351. Across the 2016/17 season less than 1,000 tickets went unsold for the Warriors 14 home matches. That means there will be little or no revenue growth from increased crowd numbers in the near future – possibly longer if the club cannot reach an agreement to expand Scotstoun or find a lottery winner with £30m plus for a new stadium!
So what will Glasgow get from the price rise?
Again it requires some rough figures but based on current season book and match ticket costs the average price of attending a Glasgow game should be somewhere in the region of £20-£25 per head. Based on selling every available seat (and standing area) that generates around £2m to £2.5m of revenue. The club are far from being at the level of the likes of Leinster who, it’s been suggested, will generate over €9.5m in ticket sales this season. It is though a massive leap forward from Glasgow’s last campaign at Firhill which is likely to have made less than £1m from matchday attendances.
An 18% increase (equivalent to adding 8% per year for the last 2 years) will see an additional £350k to £450k (less associated costs) heading into the coffers. With players like Finn Russell, Jonny Gray and Ali Price coming off contract at the end of 2017/18 that sort of money could at least make some contribution to retaining their services in Glasgow.
The Warriors’ capacity situation is increasingly becoming an issue and is now at the stage where the club are missing out on revenue that could be used to strengthen the playing squad. During 2015/16 Glasgow managed to attract over 9,000 spectators to deepest, darkest Ayrshire for a dead rubber European Cup match simply because there were plenty of seats to sell. If 10,000 through the door was a realistic goal for well marketed Champions Cup matches and games against Edinburgh and the Irish provinces, with between 8-9,000 for the club’s other fixtures then we could be looking at £500k plus of lost ticket sales each season.
Nobody likes paying more. In fact OTOTM’s day job entails a particular antipathy towards largesse and a tendency towards stinginess. But realistically with revenue streams from the international game close to their maximums and Scotstoun’s limited capacity this is one of the few ways to generate the additional funds the squad needs to remain competitive.
The increasingly significant amounts being brought into the club by the paying punters also means a greater influence and voice for the fans. There was no real need to pay much attention when it was 1,000 hardy souls at Firhill, probably not even covering the costs of using the stadium. It’s different as the fans become an ever more important source of income.
Glasgow have already taken steps to improve the matchday experience and the way they interact with supporters on a daily basis. We as fans can also have a positive influence on how our club is being run. Get involved through social media, fan forums and the XVIth Warrior supporters’ club. There is a lot of talent and expertise throughout the Warrior Nation and Glasgow can benefit from more than just the money we contribute to the club.