What role do the SFA play in encouraging youngsters to not only play but watch football in Scotland?
I see that the Serbia and Macedonia tickets have gone on sale to the general public after the period available for Tartan Army Members has finished. What caught my eye though was the price of one ticket for either of these games.
South Stand Lower: £35 South Stand Upper: £32
North Stand: FULL West Stand: £25
East Stand: £25 East Stand Family: £25/£10
For me, looking at these numbers it raises the question; Since when was it the SFAs job to maximise its profit to the point that many families will no longer consider going to Hampden as a viable option?
As a former Tartan Army member, I consider the Scotland games to have been massively important in me catching the bug to attend live football matches and the main reason behind getting my season ticket at Hibernian.
Growing up in Scotland, our SPL and SFL stadiums are never full every week. Unless your a Rangers or Celtic fan the chance to go to a game with a big crowd and a big atmosphere is very rare. My first away game to see Hibs was at St Johnstone and the attendance was only a handful of thousands. At a young age, the football alone isn’t enough to keep someone interested for 90 minutes. I still remember coming out onto the concourse against Germany in 2003 to a Hampden that was rocking and that made an impression on me, but how many youngsters now will get that chance?
Buying a ticket for Scotland friendly 10 years ago it could cost as little as £7 for an adult and £3 for a child. Dad and son all in for a tenner. For the recent friendly match it was costing £23 for both and that was Australia, not at Hampden and with a weak side.
I know football needs money and home games will be one of the best sources of income for the Scottish Football Association. I totally get that. Tickets for the North stand have sold out which is superb. But how many people standing in the North for these games as a youngster went to football when it was cheap and got a ‘lift over’ for free?
With so many other distractions now compared to yesteryear (Was Paintballing even a word back then?) its key to get youngsters hooked for seeing live football with an atmosphere and someone like your St Mirrens and Kilmarnocks cant guarantee that but at a Scotland game you can.
Once the are hooked though, the atmosphere becomes less important and regularity takes precedence. Thats what a league team can offer; before it may not have been seen as that desirable place but is now somewhere they want to visit.
I just don’t think its the SFAs job to put off families and parents with kids that want to go to watch football. Clubs have their own pricing structure but the national association should aim to encourage and involve as many as possible and this should be their number one aim. The SFA will probably argue the price is in line with similar past times and other football matches but thats not the point. I don’t consider that their role.
Make the whole East stand a family stand. Pack them in for cheap prices and watch them in 10 years, all grown up pay £40 for a ticket in the North stand.
Its like an investment in their purchasing habits. Shorter term financial reduction for long term interest and gain.