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Manchester United spark a goldmine effect but could it head our way?

18 Feb

So tonight it begins. FCM v Manchester United in the Europa League last 32. As a Brentford supporter, my feelings on all things Mitdjylland have been well documented and I hadn’t planned on looking at this one. Good luck to both teams and all that but I’m more concerned with how the Bees fare in Saturday’s forthcoming game with Derby County . Then, Rasmus went and spoke to the radio.

Manchester United fans are, understandably, somewhat upset about being charged £71 a person to watch tonight’s game. Moreso when FCM’s earlier home tie against Southampton saw prices set at a much more reasonable £22. It is a staggering amount of money to watch a game of football in any right, let alone one outside of the final (where prices are out of the club’s control).

Mark Chapman (not ours, although given the amount of shared roles in this scenario nothing would surprise me) spoke to Rasmus Ankersen on BBC 5 live yesterday. The Dane, of course, being co-director of football at Brentford as well as chairman of FCM.

Rasmus talks to Beesplayer

Rasmus Ankersen

In the interview, which you can find here and I’d urge Bees fans to listen to, Rasmus attempts to underline the reasoning behind this price hike, arguing that it is a compromise between supply and demand. A chance to make money whilst keeping the game in FCM’s stadium.

This worries me. A lot. That a club seriously considered moving a cup tie from their home. Not because of anything such as safety concerns but just because they could shift more tickets. Likewise, that the alternate is to fleece the fans. I’m sure lots of Danes did want to see the game. As Rasmus notes in the interview, they could have sold upwards of 50,000.

Rasmus – it’s called the woodwork effect. Welcome to the real world of football. When a small team draws a big name, people that wouldn’t be seen dead within a mile of a football stadium suddenly remember their supposed love of the beautiful game. It’s why clubs have all manner of loyalty schemes (such as our own ‘Ticket Access Points’ ) in order to ensure the loyal supporters can get first dibs on games such as this. The chance to see a ‘David’ slay a ‘Goliath’ in their own backyard – not 50 miles up the road in some soulless enormodome.

Brentford chairman Cliff Crown (who also doubles up as a director at FCM) ploughed the same furrow. He was quoted on Talksport as saying “We are a very small club in a small region of Denmark and this is our cup final so we have to make the most of this opportunity.”

Putting to one side the “this is our cup final” quote (something that is as toe curling as a half and half scarf), this reiteration of the opportunistic element to this game does make me nervous and concerned.

cliff

Cliff Crown at Southampton

With Griffin Park having a similar capacity and pricing structure to FCM (at least, based on the Southampton tickets), can we expect similar next season should we draw a Manchester United, Liverpool or Chelsea in the cup? Are we going to be asked to pay through the nose? The fifth of the cost of a Griffin Park season ticket for 90 minutes of football

Likewise, what happens if we go up? It almost happened last season although, at least, those fans who got in before our fate was known found ST prices kept at what would have been a very reasonable level for Premier League football. But long term, or in the case of a fortunate cup draw, what would we start to charge?

Quite frankly, I can’t afford an unexpected £71 on top of all the other expenses and so would have had to give the game a miss.

Anybody who thinks that would be an acceptable price is living in Walter Mitty land.

Saunders territory Chelsea

If Chelsea come back to Griffin Park can we expect a price hike?

Nick Bruzon

Who fancies a night out at the theatre?

28 Jan

It’s almost February and the latest batch of match tickets are going on sale. Green cards are being obtained from Mrs. B to ensure I can see the likes of Derby County, Brighton and Sheffield Wednesday. At month end, is the big one – Wolves at home on February 23rd. It’s a fixture I’ve loved over recent seasons given our divisional rivalry with the men from Molineux. And, of course, two days later there’s Manchester United v FC Midtjylland.

What’s this got to do with me, Nick?” you may ask . Well, on paper we’ve obviously got some link with the Danish Champions. Specifically that Matthew Benham owns both teams, our chairman Cliff Crown serves as a director for FCM whilst their chairman, Rasmus Ankersen, also acts as one of our co-director’s of football.

I’m sorry to bring this up again. We should still be talking about Sammy Saunders and his goal against Leeds United. But the half time lap of honour and request for applause afforded to the Danes as we were capitulating against Walsall still feels fresh. I’m not going to overly regurgitate my thoughts on that one – they’re here if you want.

Then, yesterday, ‘official’ twitter published a link selling tickets for the Manchester United v FCM Europa League game that takes place two days after our own fixture with Wolves. Just to be clear, that’s Brentford’s ‘official’ twitter. Not Man U or Midtylland’s.

They might have also done so, to be fair. I haven’t checked – not being a supporter of either team.

Good luck to Matthew. Genuinely. He’s done incredible things for Brentford and I certainly wouldn’t wish him or his other business interests – whether Matchbook, Smartodds or FCM – any ill will. Being blunt, it is in our interests that they flourish.

But, for the millionth time, I support Brentford. I don’t give a monkey about Manchester United (the comedy element of watching them race Chelsea to see who can fail to qualify for the Champions League first). I certainly don’t follow FC Midtjylland and, can honestly say, unless our paths crossed on the pitch, I’d never go and watch them play.

Going to watch ‘neutral’ football when you are bored one evening and in the vicinity is one thing. I’ve done it before. At Old Trafford of all places when I was working in Manchester for a year and borrowed a season ticket from a London based friend. Being honest, I struggled to engage. It wasn’t my team and the atmosphere was somewhat muted – moreso for a stadium that holds over 70,000. But for the sake of a ten minute tram ride it was something to do rather than spend another night in the pub – football tourism, I guess.

Yet our own club hawking tickets for a neutral game 163 miles away seems a really odd one. Maybe people will want to go. Maybe people will want a night out at the theatre? Of ‘dreams’ ™ , that is. Maybe people will want to jump on the football tourism bandwagon – that same one we were so scathing of at Stamford Bridge when the Bees took on Chelsea three years ago in the FA Cup

I don’t. I support Brentford. I’m not going to go out of my way to watch anybody else. Let alone on a school night. Let alone that far away. Let alone two days after I’ve been cheering on my team to victory over Wolves *.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but very few Brentford fans care about FCM. At least, on the pitch. Certainly, the response to the club’s tweet suggests that is still the case.

Comments included:

“Oh dear………..”

“couldn’t care less”

“Why would #brentfordfc fans want to go to that game? I don’t get it?”

“how much are tickets for @SupermarineFC v @MarlowFC ? Much more attractive game”

Please Brentford. I’m not a (total) idiot. I know Matthew has huge interests in the Danes . I realise that. Is it too much to ask you could just stop shoving them in our face?

Nick Bruzon

* please note: Other results are possible