Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

A Crowd Teaser

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

A Crowd Teaser

Article excerpt

Byline: Eric Paylor

Steve Gibson admitted today that Boro have to earn the right to put bums on seats at the Riverside Stadium.

The Boro chairman believes that the club's admission prices must remain competitive, while conceding that Premiership football is expensive to watch.

However Gibson believes the fans will respond to winning football.

He said: "Last year we had average gates of over 32,000 and we were very happy with that.

"Over the past few weeks attendances have dropped from this peak and our challenge is to bring them back to the club.

"We know that football has become an expensive game to watch, and also that fans have the choice whether to come or not.

"I have no problem with the gates.

"I am certainly not going to be critical of fans who exercise their right.

"What we do know is that there is a huge amount of interest in the club within the town.

"People are rightly proud of their club and it's very important to them that we do well.

"If we want them back we have to win and entertain and earn that right."

It was the relatively low crowd of 14,000 for the UEFA Cup tie against Xanthi which created the furore over attendances.

However Gibson said: "You will always be disappointed if you get low crowds for European games.

"But I understand the reasons why the gate was low.

"A lot of our games are shown on TV.

"It gives fans an opportunity to watch the game and save a bit of cash.

"People say 'Why don't you reduce the prices?' but that's too simplistic.

"We are already competitive and our prices are among the lowest in the Premiership.

"At present our income from ticket sales is around pounds 9 1/2m a year, which is considerably less than we have just committed ourselves to paying in the transfer market.

"And 17 1/2 per cent of the money we receive from ticket sales goes to the taxman in VAT.

"That's why we have to find the right balance between making the club affordable and at the same time ensuring the club remains competitive. …

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