East Stirlingshire will tomorrow join the growing band of clubs cutting admission prices in a bid to attract more people through the gates.
The club has dubbed this weekend’s Ochilview clash against Annan Athletic, ‘Shire For A Fiver Day’, with adults able to come along and watch the SPFL League two match for £5 instead of the usual £12. Concession prices will be £2 and kids under-12 can come for £1.
The club is responding to increasing concerns about the cost of going to football matches, calls which are growing more widespread with every passing season.
“We have always tried our best to keep football as affordable as we can for people,” said club secretary Tadek Kopszywa. “Our adult full price season ticket is the lowest in the league and our scheme where under-16s pay their age in pounds has been very popular.
“But we have to balance that out with running a business and this season, very reluctantly, we raised our adult gate price for the first time in a number of years,” he said.
Shire are more fortunate than many clubs in one sense; their average attendance at Ochilview has at least remained fairly stable for the last few years. The price rise in August also doesn’t appear to have hit them but there is an acceptance that they have to try harder.
“We really do need to look at how we encourage more people to come to our games,” said the club secretary. “I appreciate that most of the concerns about ticket prices come from fans at the bigger clubs but £12 is a lot of money when you can go and watch one of the junior clubs in our area for a lot less.
“The quality of football at our games is really high and it is always a good day out. What we are saying to people who have maybe stopped coming to our games or who have never been before is, give it a try,” he said.
Shire could do with a bit of extra backing as they bid to move away from the bottom of the league table. Their cause was helped by last Saturday’s 1-0 win at Montrose but may have come at a cost.
Key defender Chris Townsley suffered an injury in the Links Park victory and is being assessed in training this week before any decision is taken on his readiness for another vital match on Saturday.
“We haven’t had our problems to seek with injuries,” said coach Craig Tully. “Last week it was Luke Donnelly and now it’s Chris Townsley. We have also been without Nathan Shepherd and Max Wright for months and they are two big players for us.”
Tully was delighted with the response he got from his players last week to their recent troubles and he is hopeful they can continue in the same fashion against an Annan Athletic side they have failed to take a point from in two meetings so far this season.
The advantage of ending that trend on Saturday is obvious from just a quick glance at the league table. Tully is upbeat about his team’s chances.
“Both games against them this season have been tight and we have been unlucky not to take anything from them,” he said. “We played really well at Montrose and there were a lot of good individual performances too. If we maintain those standards against Annan on Saturday then I would be quite hopeful we could get something from the game,” said the head coach.