The following article appeared in the club’s official matchday programme for the game against Newport County (played on February 7, 2015).
Fans have their say
Board member Mark Davis has an update on the Dons Trust’s ticket pricing survey.
Last November and December the Dons Trust conducted a survey of AFC Wimbledon supporters about ticket pricing. We asked multiple-choice questions about attitudes to pricing and, to help us understand the answers, about fans’ expectations of the club’s future and their understanding of some relevant facts, and about the respondents themselves.
Uptake of the survey was pleasing. In all there were 1,294 responses (1,288 online, six on paper), representing a wide range of ages, income levels, and so on. We had relatively few responses from women (who account for 13% of season ticket holders but only 9% of survey responses) and under-21s (18% of season ticket holders but only 4% of responses), and we will think how to address these shortfalls in future.
We’re still analysing what respondents told us – both statistically and by digesting the additional comments people made. But here are some early pointers.
We asked whether being a supporter-owned club meant we should take a different approach to ticket pricing than other clubs. The most popular answer (34%) was that there should be consultation with supporters on pricing, and that it should inform decisions on prices. The next two most popular answers were that pricing has nothing to do with ownership (23%) and that we should set an example by making it more affordable to watch football (22%). 16% said that, with no deep-pocketed owner, supporters should expect to bear more of the costs of running the club. 4% thought the most important linkage to fan ownership is that we need to break even and may therefore need to moderate our goals.
Other questions cast further light on consultation. Nearly half the respondents (48%) indicated that if ticket price increases were modest (e.g. in line with inflation), then they wouldn’t mind not being consulted. 31% thought there should always be consultation, whereas 21% were happy to leave decisions on pricing to the boards.
When asked about this season’s 10% price increase, 60% of respondents thought that it was fine as a one-off increase provided we don’t keep hiking prices faster than inflation. A further 29% thought we should be aiming high and keep on increasing our prices. 5% were most concerned by the lack of consultation, and a similar percentage were most concerned that the increase had made it either hard to afford to watch matches or poor value for money compared with other ways of spending their time.
When asked whether the relative prices of tickets for adults, under-18s and concessions appropriately reflect our values as a club, 69% of respondents answered that the club strikes a fair balance between these groups. 11% thought the discounts were too large; 9% thought they were too small. Of the latter group, 90% thought that discounts should be larger for under-18s, with fewer favouring larger discounts for over-65s (45%), the 18–20 age group and students (31%), and the unemployed (23%).
Respondents have high expectations for the future. Over 90% expect the club to be playing at a new stadium in Wimbledon by 2020, and 75% expect the club to be in League One or above by then. 95% expect the club to remain under the ownership of its supporters in 2020.
We will continue to analyse the responses, digest people’s comments and decide what happens next. One early thought is that supporters may benefit from more accessible information about how the club raises and spends its money. For example, we asked what proportion of AFC Wimbledon’s revenues come from selling season tickets and matchday tickets for League Two games. Over 50% of respondents thought the answer was half or more, whereas only 17% opted for the correct answer, which is a quarter.
Thank you to everyone who answered the survey. Keep an eye on the Dons Trust website for further information.