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Where Do I Sign Up? Part Two - Reserve Seating

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

First of all, I’d like to thank those who had input into this article; there has been some excellent feedback on part one, and I’ve incorporated some of the suggestions received into this piece. Again though, there is a limit to what we can examine, and items such as merchandise, stadium size, population centres, and the like remain out of scope.

Reserved Seating, like General Admission, is something that is present across all A-League clubs. Members who want a guaranteed seat every game can purchase a Reserve Seating membership and know they’ll be sitting in the same position every week. As a result, it is an option popular with families, older fans, and those who want to sit in the same bay as their friends week in, week out. Finally, a quick note- due to the odd method of fixturing that Football Federation Australia chooses to employ in the A-League, not all clubs play the same amount of games at home. It should be noted that in 2008-2009, Adelaide, Central Coast, Melbourne, and Wellington all play eleven home games. Perth, Sydney, Newcastle, and Queensland play only ten games at home. This should be taken into account when looking at the price of memberships.

So, without further adieu, let us take a look at what the different A-League clubs have to offer. And yes, as of 14 June 2008, there are still no membership details available for the Queensland Roar.

Reserved Seating

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Families

For those who read part one of this article, it should come as no surprise to see Sydney FC at the top of the tree for family pricing. A full season of ten home games with Reserved Seating will cost a Sydney family $418. What may come as a surprise is the performance of Perth Glory. At $46 a game, the Reserved Seating membership for a Perth family is actually the second cheapest in the league. Across eleven home games (one more than Perth) Wellington and Newcastle come close, but fail to match the value of the Glory ticket.

The Mariners are not far behind their rivals Newcastle in terms of pricing, but unfortunately for those families in Adelaide- and especially Melbourne- their teams fail to deliver any real value with the Reserved Seating family membership. Indeed, a Melboune family will pay $63 a game with their season ticket- almost twenty dollars higher than a Perth family, and even when compared to Sydney.

Concession

Concession Reserved Seating memberships are a very interesting category. Depending on the exchange rate when purchased, Wellington Pheonix memberships are probably the cheapest given that they are spread across eleven games. However, in terms of Australian clubs, it is Perth Glory with the cheapest Reserved Seating concession membership- only $13 a game. This beats even the previously dominant Sydney FC, who are still good value at $15.40 a game. Again though, it would be Adelaide and Melbourne fans who would feel the harshest done by. Essentially both clubs charge their concession members between $19 and $20 for Reserved Seating every game. This may come as a surprise to those critics who say that clubs in the east always offer the best deals to members; clearly, this is not the case.

Kids

In part one, Perth Glory FC was criticised for supplying the most expensive General Admission membership for children. In terms of Reserved Seating, they don’t even hold a candle to the Melbourne Victory. Victory kids will be able to purchase a seat this year for around $12.60 a game. To put that in context, the majority of the A-League will be supplying the same membership to kids for about $10 a game. In keeping with the overall trend of Reserve Seating tickets, Adelaide United are the second most expensive team for children. In a first, the Central Coast Mariners are the cheapest for children’s Reserve Seating. Even though they have eleven games to cater for, they are the only team to offer a price under $100; at $90, one would imagine that it would a be very attractive offer to those fans who would like to bring their young boy or girl along to games with them.

Adults

Another important membership category, and another win for Sydney FC in the price wars. For just a touch over $20 a game, a Sydney FC fan can have a seat reserved for them at every game. In fact, there is only 90c difference between a Sydney fan having a reserved seat and a Perth Glory fan getting General Admission at every match. Read into that what you will, but it is obvious that Sydney know how to make their offers attractive to the general public; and it must reflect on the depth of their financial backers’ pockets, for them to be able to afford these sorts of price schemes while still paying for the likes of John Aloisi, Simon Colosimo, and Mark Bridge to defect from their respective teams.

Newcastle are only just behind Sydney, their members paying just a little more and receiving one more game for the season. While all other clubs generally hover around a mark somewhere between $21 and $23, questions must be asked of Melbourne’s pricing strategy. Considering their team failed to make the finals last year, or progress in the ACL, they must essentially be banking on their fans wanting priority to get reserved seats at the new stadium- because their price for a season long Reserve Seating membership for an adult totals about $31.50 a match. No other club charges their members anywhere near as much; Adelaide is possibly the second most expensive- but they only charge $24 a match. If this author were a Melbourne Victory fan- and he’s happy he’s not- he would be asking some serious questions about this pricing policy.

Summary

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It must be said, you’d be pretty happy to read these articles if you were a Sydney FC member. If you look at the graph for the average Reserve Seating membership price across all categories, Sydney come out a clear winner, just like for General Admission. You’d also be pretty happy if you were a Wellington Pheonix supporter. Depending on the exchange rate at the time, Wellington members get their Reserve Seating memberships at the second or third cheapest price in the A-League. The same applies to Perth Glory supporters; evidently although there is often a lot of criticism levelled at the club by members, it would seem that- at least in terms of Reserve Seating pricing- they are receiving one of the better offers in the league. Granted, this needs to be transferred into on-field results too, but the club at least shows it understands this area of pricing.

Melbourne Victory have the worst value Reserve Seating memberships in the A-League. Adelaide aren’t that flash either, but when you consider that on average Melbournians pay over three dollars more for a seat every game than anyone else, you wonder how a club with such good General Admission prices tries to attract members to their second tier of pricing. Compared to Sydney FC, who also perform well in General Admission, Melbourne Reserve Seating prices are almost $10 a game more expensive.

It should be pointed out that Newcastle seem to be aiming their marketing of memberships towards those in Reserve Seating more so than General Admission. While they were the worst value per-game for General Admission, they are vastly better than either Melbourne or Adelaide for Reserve Seating, and are only just more expensive than local rivals Central Coast.

General Admission versus Reserve Seating

As you might remember from part one, Sydney were top dogs in terms of pricing their General Admission memberships. This remains the same in terms of Reserve Seating. Melbourne however takes a nose-dive and becomes the worst club for financial value of memberships. The following table shows how the A-League would pan out if the places were awarded for the overall value of a General Admission ticket per game:

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Sydney FC are undisputed champions, and they along with Melbourne, Wellington, and Adelaide will contest the A-League finals series. Central Coast miss out by a small margin, whilst Perth finish a mediocre sixth and Newcastle beat only the hapless Queensland, who are disqualified for having no prices whatsoever. It’s a different story for Reserve Seating though:

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Again, Sydney FC win the A-League regular season.

However, the margin of their win is much reduced, with Wellington Pheonix and Perth Glory essentially finishing equal second- a recount of points would be needed based on the exchange rate at any one time.

Central Coast have managed to climb into the finals series by finishing fourth ahead of close rivals Newcastle.

Adelaide have dropped out of the four based on what would normally be seen as the most expensive prices- but that title is taken by Melbourne, who take a spectacular dive from second to second last; rooted to the foot of the competition (bar Queensland) by a very long way. One wonders, given their performances last year, if the Victory can afford to maintain this pricing system if they have another lean year in 2008-2009.

Some, but not all, of these clubs also offer a third tier of membership.

These are the top individual seats outside of corporate seating, and will be examined in the third and final instalment of this article; we shall also explore the presence of associate or country memberships across the A-League.

- David Meacock