East Stirlingshire are hoping to welcome some new ‘first foots’ when they play their opening home match of the new year.
The club has designated their first Ochilview match of 2015, on January 17 when Annan Athletic are the visitors, as ‘Shire For A Fiver Day’. The idea does what it says: adult admissions are being slashed from the normal £12 to just £5 with concessions being admitted to the game for just £2.
In addition, the club will be giving away free tickets to organised groups of primary school-aged kids as long as they are supervised by adults and book in advance. The club is keen to do what it can to encourage lapsed Shire fans back to games and to try and win new followers.
“We appreciate that January is a time when money is tight after the festive season,” said club secretary Tadek Kopszywa. “For a lot of people going to the football is well down the list of spending priorities after Christmas presents have been paid for so we want to do what we can to encourage people to come along.
“For those who would plan to come anyway there is the chance to save a bit of money at the right time of year. But we also want to coax people who used to come regularly but, for whatever reason, have stopped coming or those who have never been before.”
The initiative also hopes to build on the back of the Shire’s recently-launched community football programme, East Stirlingshire Galaxy.
“We have shown our hand in terms of trying to get youngsters involved with the football club through coming along to coaching sessions and then on to playing in teams,” said the Shire secretary. “It’s a logical step from there to get kids going to first team games and this gives them the opportunity to do so, maybe for the first time.”
Shire officials are also acutely aware they need to do something to try and raise the profile of the club and not be deaf to the suggestions of ordinary fans around the issue of the affordability of matches.
“It’s impossible to ignore what people say about the cost of going to football matches,” said Kopszywa. “There is a clear groundswell of opinion that senior football is increasingly expensive.
“And while people have to be aware that we are a business that has to pay its way we, at the same time, have to at least listen to what they say. This event allows us to perhaps attract people along to the Shire who might previously have considered a day at Ochilview too expensive.
“We do try to help. Our season tickets for adults are the cheapest in the league and we allow people to pay them up by standing order. Children aged 16 or under pay their age in pounds for a whole season of league football.”