The average football fan across the UK has to fork out a lot of money if they want to see their team play, but London-side Leyton Orient has started a scheme that challenges that.
Back in April this year, chairman Barry Hearn announced that the club will be giving away 1,500 season tickets to full-time students for the 2013/14 season.
“This is the first stage of bringing back life and future to Leyton Orient and attracting new fans,” he said. “A free season ticket provides someone the chance to watch some exciting football and develop a lifelong affiliation with the club.”
The average season ticket price for a League One side is roughly £300, rising to an average of more than double that when looking at clubs in the Premier League.
The initiative started by Hearn is an example of how English football can help tackle the recession for fans that simply can no longer afford to go to football matches.
One fan said of the scheme, “I was one of the lucky ones to get my hands on one of these free season tickets. I can’t wait for the season to start as I have never been able to afford to go to a game.”
Many other fans were also elated yesterday after they got their first glimpse of the side against one of Brazilian legend Pele’s former teams, the New York Cosmos, in a pre-season friendly.
The 1,500 lucky winners of the season tickets will enjoy something not many football fans experience – fans in England anyway.
The German Bundesliga is the leading league when it comes to attendances and it’s easy to see why when fans of Bayern Munich, the current European Champions, can get hold of a season ticket for the equivalent of just £67, a mere £20 more than the highest single match day ticket in the Premier League.
What Hearn is hoping to do is to rejuvenate hope into the youth of today by letting them have the chance to see live football for the cost of nothing.
The club itself will benefit from the scheme with attendances immediately rising from last year’s figures, which saw almost two-thirds of the stadium being empty on occasions. Additionally, the fan base outside the stadium should hopefully grow immensely quickly with such a fan-pleasing proposal.
Another plan that Hearn has taken action on, this time for the already loyal fans of the club, is a discount on renewing their season tickets when referring a friend to the club.
An existing season ticket holder from 2012/13 will receive a 10% discount for every friend they refer to the club. So, for example, if one holder refers six people, they will receive a 60% discount on their 2013/14 season ticket – as well as each new fan receiving a 10% discount on their season ticket to boot.
The initiative has already saved fans over £1000 and the club will look forward to the new season with both fresh new faces at the Matchroom stadium, as well as some very satisfied current fans of the club.
The ultimate aim is for more football clubs in England to follow in Leyton Orient’s footsteps. It’s a sign that shows sometimes, just sometime, English football can be very generous to its supporters.