“Our most expensive adult Season Ticket is £565 in the Sir Philip Carter Park Stand, less than £30 per game.
In real terms, when you allow for the impact of inflation, our adult Season Ticket prices are 16% cheaper than they were 10 years ago, saving our adult supporters approximately £100 a season.
But I am particularly proud of our pricing for our young and older fans. Under-11s pay just £95 a season, equivalent to £5 a match across the whole stadium. Under-18s pay £149, Under-21s and Seniors £299, and concessions are still available up to the age of 24.
In a time when young people face really difficult financial challenges, including university tuition fees, saving for a deposit on a house, and with a youth unemployment rate of 11%, we are striving to make it as easy as possible for our young supporters to come to Goodison Park.
We remain committed to our young fans and ensure our family values are reflected in our pricing policy. You will be delighted to hear, I am sure, that one in four Season Ticket holders are under the age of 18.”
Denise Barrett-Baxendale, speaking at the AGM in January 2019. (*The prices quoted include VAT at 20%)
All of the above has been, and is very laudable, putting affordability at the heart of Everton’s pricing policy at Goodison Park.
As the reality of Bramley-Moore becomes ever closer however, the question will turn in the next few months as to how Everton address affordability in future years? It’s arguable of course, that economic conditions may not improve significantly in the short term given the uncertainties associated with Brexit, thus making the policy even more relevant and in fact needed.
However, I believe the issue of future pricing at Bramley-Moore requires addressing. Whilst it is correct for the club to promote the benefits of a new stadium which will create a new match going experience at an entirely different level to Goodison Park, it can’t ignore that a stadium move funded predominantly by debt, comes at a cost to all spectators.
The financing model for building Bramley-Moore has been outlined by Farhad Moshiri, most recently at the January AGM. His expectation is that Everton will borrow £350 million from financial institutions, the remainder being funded by a combination of naming rights funding and his own pocket.
Debt of course, has to be paid back. It’s not yet known precisely what the cost of financing will be in interest rate terms, but rates of about 4.5% shouldn’t be too far from the mark. At 4.5%, repayable over 30 years, would see the club committed to annual repayments of approximately £21.3 million.
The purpose of a new stadium, apart from providing great facilities and a “fortress” in which to play is to provide greater revenues to support the footballing activities and competitiveness on the pitch.
Because of the low capacity of Goodison Park, poor corporate facilities and the affordable pricing policy mentioned above, match day revenues have lagged our competitors, and reduced in real and actual terms over recent years:
Revenues for 16/17. *denotes revenues 17/18
Our match day revenues in recent years:
Projecting forwards to Bramley-Moore
In order to generate net revenues greater than Goodison Park currently provides, Bramley Moore will have to generate well in excess of £40 million (£2 million a game). Even at those levels (and we are projecting 4 years forwards) we will remain far apart from the largest Premier League clubs (Manchester United £110m, Arsenal £100m, Liverpool £81m, Chelsea £66m, Manchester City £57m, for example).
Can this be done with an ongoing commitment to affordability?
Let’s start with those who are likely to be least price sensitive. Even at Everton there is a reasonable number of affluent supporters, individuals and business owners who will look forward to the opportunity to spend sums of money on levels of services which Goodison can only dream of providing. Currently, the 1400 or so (3.5% of capacity) “premium seats” account for near to 25% of current match day revenues. It is not unrealistic to assume that if “premium seat” capacity approaches 8-10% then the contribution should approach 50% of match day revenues.
Please note all the following assumptions are ex VAT, paying spectators would obviously pay an additional 20%
At the upper end of expectations, 5,000 “premium seats” at an average price of £200 would generate £19 million per annum. The range of pricing across premium seating is quite extreme from facilities costing £5,000 a match down to more affordable £100-£150 offerings. Nevertheless, they do form a significant part of the overall match day income.
Of the notional £40 million target, that leaves £21 million to find from 47,000 seats.
Away seating is capped at £25 (ex VAT), and with 3,000 seats would generate a maximum of £1.4 million in a 19 game season.
Thus around £20 million has to be found from the remaining 44,000 seats.
If we assume, of those seats 40,000 are sold to season ticket holders, that leaves 4,000 “walk up” seats for non-regular fans and visitors to the stadium.
Based on the different categories of fans currently attending games (juniors/young adults/seniors and adults) remaining consistent it’s possible to calculate the likely increase in ticket prices to meet the minimum revenue targets.
40% increase across the board………
I’ve not included the workings (available on request) but the broad findings of any reasonable model will show that ticket prices for all categories of season ticket holders and walk ups would have to increase by a minimum of 40% from current levels to marginally increase our net revenues from the current Goodison Park levels.
In simple terms, including VAT, this would see junior tickets rising to £132/£209, young adult/senior tickets rising to £420, and regular season tickets rising in a range from £588 to £791.
In practice, the very best season tickets by position may see higher increases using the so-called “theatre pricing” policies, however I have assumed not for this article.
Walk up, or non regular attending fan tickets would average £60 (incl. VAT).
In terms of revenue generation, this is of course a base case – it looks at just Premier League revenues, it does not account for cup ties or indeed regular participation in European competition.
In reality, I would expect the increases to be larger to improve the net revenue position and reflect the risks associated with increased debt.
There are obviously a number of assumptions made, but it is clear that the proposed model of a 52,000 seat stadium predominantly (70%) funded by debt has significant cost implications for ordinary supporters without adding hugely to the overall financial and competitive position of the club.
Whilst I understand the desire to highlight the current affordability and commitment to that, I also think there has to be a recognition that that cannot continue in its current form. With the increases suggested above, Everton would still be by Premier League terms, relatively inexpensive, however for people on tight or fixed budgets and especially those bringing family members I hope the club begins to communicate the impact of their proposed capacity and funding plans with the fan base.
It should be an areas the various fan groups and the shareholder association wish to address through their usual channels.