Alfreton Town FC is to drastically reduced its ticket prices for the home league game against Braintree at the Impact Arena on November 16.
A club statement explained: “The club is now in its third season in the Skrill Conference Premier League and it feels now is the time to assess whether a club of the Reds’ size can support a team at this level and even to contemplate whether Football League status is within their capability.
“On the pitch, season by season improvements have shown that the Reds are capable of competing at this level but there is a question of whether they can attract sufficient support through the gates to maintain their status or even consider playing at a higher level.
“After promotion from the Conference North, the club decided to maintain its prices as a reward to their loyal supporters and hopefully attract new supporters who would wish to watch the highest level of non-league football.
“Was this the correct decision ? At first it appeared so as attendances increased. Unfortunately, the playing budget meant that up until the Christmas period, the team struggled and found themselves in real relegation danger, and relegation was a word that neither the management or supporters would wish to contemplate.
“Thanks to the chairman’s generosity and the manager/assistant managers’ skill, the team was strengthened, went on a fantastic run and achieved a comfortable end of season mid-table position.
“The lesson learned by the club was that the initial playing budget was probably insufficient to guarantee safety from relegation and income revenue would have to be increased.
“The opportunities to increase commercial revenues at Alfreton are limited at the present stadium and the only way forward was to consider an increase in entrance prices. After much soul-searching and an extremely late-night board meeting, a figure was set for the second season that hopefully would provide sufficient funds to continue to strengthen the team and continue our march towards Football League status.
“The club expected the fans to accept this increase as part of the price to pay for moving the club forward, which proved to be a miscalculation. Gates dropped by 25 per cent and although in financial terms the club was slightly better off it was insufficient to allow the team to be strengthened and make a push for a play-off position and a relatively comfortable midtable position was our end of season result.
“The club entered its third season therefore with a dilemma – how to improve the team still further with no growth in attendances.The club decided to return to part-time status in the hope of attracting higher calibre players who did not want full-time contracts.
“This in fact happened, and the present team is the strongest that the Reds have ever fielded. So what has happened to attendances? Almost nothing – the present average is slightly lower than last season although it would be expected to increase when the better supported teams such as Luton,Chester,Grimsby,Lincoln etc. make an appearance at the Impact Arena.
“The club hoped that more success on the pitch would automatically lead to an increase in attendance levels but it appears that this is not the case.
“The Board of Directors would like to be discussing plans to achieve a higher league position and even putting into place certain elements for possible Football League status. Unfortunately, the uncertainty of present revenues and the levels of support that Alfreton could or might achieve are holding back their plans.
“If success on the pitch alone won’t bring in the extra support needed, is the pricing structure wrong? The fans seem to think so! The club is willing therefore to give the fans a chance to back up their argument with a special offer.
For the next home league match, against Braintree on November 16, the entrance prices will be drastically reduced to a level below those charged for even our last season in Conference North !
“They will be: Full adult (22-64) £12; Concession (65 and over) £10; Young adult (17-21) £5; Children up to the age of 16 - free (if accompanied by an adult)
“For this trial to be classed as financially successful, the gate at the match would have to reach approximately 1,000 (and obviously not all those would have to be children); for the club to move forwards the gate would have to be nearer 1500 at these prices.
“Maybe a compromise would be required. Whatever the outcome, the club guarantees that if there is a significant increase it will consider re-pricing at all games – the more attend, the more the prices might be reduced! It’s now in the fans hands!
“This is the fans chance to not only help determine all future pricing but to influence the whole direction of the club. Even if you are not a regular Reds’ fan, come along and use it as your protest vote against the high cost of attending football at any level.
“If the Bundesliga can fill their stadia every week because of cheap prices is it possible to repeat that in the UK?”