Leeds United: Fans paying the price for success

The gnashing of teeth over season ticket prices at Elland Road is becoming an annual event.

Rises of up to 13 per cent in certain areas of the stadium next season ensured that this year was no different.

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Leeds United's supporters have been at odds with the club's board over the cost of attending Elland Road for most of Ken Bates' tenure as chairman. It was a contentious issue in 2005 and continues to be so, a never-ending cycle of dispute.

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An adult season ticket for an existing holder next season will cost between 462 and 711, depending on the date of renewal.

On the assumption that prices will increase for new applicants – and perhaps increase substantially if the club are promoted to the Premier League – the cost of watching matches from Elland Road's West Stand is liable to knock on the door of 800.

By any measure, 800 is a serious amount of money for a Championship season ticket. A sizeable number of supporters would say that 711 is more than they should be asked to pay.

Leeds argued last week that the prices and rises are not only justified but necessary to meet growing expenses.

Those costs, according to Bates, pictured above, include a jump in VAT, a three per cent increase in the rent of both Elland Road and Thorp Arch and, most pertinently, the price of maintaining a squad which has a fair chance of winning promotion from the Championship.

Thus the season ticket rises unveiled last week. "You can't have one without the other," Bates said.

If the price of admission at Elland Road really does reflect the cost of running an ambitious Championship club and maintaining the necessary wage bill, it asks a serious question of English football in general – namely, how long it can continue to allow a financial structure which asks so much of the average fan.

Football should not aspire to a scenario where promotion from the Championship is dependent on season ticket holders paying 1 for every three minutes of football they see.

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