Is a price increase for away fans fair and legal?

 

Home advantage is important in modern day sport, and Hull FC have thought of a novel way of increasing theirs.

When the rewards for winners and champions are as high as they are modern day sport, every team, player, and individual wants to have the edge on their opponents before they begin.

Home advantage is critical to having that edge over your opponent. At the KC Stadium, Hull FC have the advantage of playing on the same surface for 13 regular season games. They are used to the pitch, familiar with the facilities of the stadium, and are supported by over 10,000 of their own supporters urging them onto victory each and every week.

But in order to maximise that advantage, Hull FC have been charging away fans more for admittance into the ground than home supporters. Therefore the percentage of visiting support decreases as the price difference has increased.

As the KC Stadium offers unrestricted views, and is symmetrical if you cut the stadium in two along the half way line of the pitch, common sense would suggest that the areas behind each goal post would cost supporters of both teams the same price.

However Hull FC adult fans in the southern end of the KC Stadium are being charged £19, while away supporters in the north stand have to cough up an extra £4 to watch their team play. That price will increase further if supporters choose to pay on the day, potentially raising the price up to £25 for an adult.

The prices were set prior to the start of the season when Warrington visited the KC Stadium on Super League’s opening round. Wigan supporters face a similar price difference this weekend and both sets of supporters are in outrage.

Understandably in tough economic times, visiting supporters of the away team want to get value for money. This is simply not the case at the KC Stadium, as it appears 13 sets of supporters in Super League are being fleeced for every penny they have.

With the forever increasing price of petrol, Hull FC are out-pricing their away team’s supporters. This means the percentage of away fans in the stadium decreases, which is an increased psychological advantage for the home side.

In a perfect and fair world, this practise would be not allowed. Away supporters would be charged similar prices for similar views of the pitch. But as we’ve seen with banker’s bonuses and MP expenses, we don’t live in a perfect and fair world. We live in a capitalist society, where if you don’t have the cash and power you don’t get the product or service.

From a legal point of view and with similar views of the pitch at either end of the KC stadium, is it legal for Hull FC to charge two different price rates?

Simply put, you would have difficulty brining a legal claim against Hull FC or any sports club in relation to what they charge away supporters. Hull FC have a right to charge what they like, within reason and within competition operational rules surrounding that particular sport.

Hull FC are taking advantage of strong visiting support in Warrington and Wigan, and with sports clubs being ran like a business in order to survive, it looks like this trend of staggered ticket pricing may be something other Super League clubs will introduce in the future.

For the fans of the 13 other Super League clubs, it is simply something they will have to embrace through gritted teeth.

In a statement released earlier this year, Hull FC explained that their ticket prices in the KC Stadium reflected those of other areas of the stadium, and that the pre purchase price was lower than prices in the eastern and western stands of the stadium.

The statement went onto say: “The only areas of the ground that do not follow this pricing structure are the new family area of the West Stand and the South Stand, where special promotional prices have been set to reward Hull FC supporters for their loyalty in previous seasons.”

 

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