There is a school of thought that believes, in summary, football fans are little more than sheep, blindly following the club’s will ‘support’ of their team. Fans pay a huge price premium over similar sources of entertainment: films, music, plays and so on. Meanwhile, supporters willingly spend £50 or more a season on ‘official’ shirts that cost a fraction to produce.
Indeed, economists describe this behaviour as price inelastic: demand for tickets and other commercial goods associated with football does not fall in line with price rises. Like cigarettes and heroin, football is a drug that supporters will not easily give up.
Yet, thousands of Manchester United supporters have done just that in the past five years. Walking away from the club and their season tickets as the impact of more than 50 per cent price rises took hold. So much so that for the first time in memory United failed to sell all available season tickets for the 2010/11 season. The once mythical waiting list simply vanished in a summer; the Glazers having eroded an estimated 30,000 supporters from the base.
Why then does the club persist in pendling the tired ‘waiting list line’ in its marketing, which has begun in earnest for the 2011/12 season? Why? Because we are sheep…