Grassroots clubs to sell tickets and keep 50% of revenue in bid to boost attendances and local game
Birmingham City have given grassroots football in the Midlands a boost with the launch of a pioneering new ticket scheme.
The Championship club's new initiative aims to boost dwindling attendances at St Andrew's whilst rewarding grassroots clubs who help them.
The scheme allows grassroots teams and leagues across Birmingham to sell tickets for home matches at a discounted rate - £10 for adults, £5 for 13-18 year-olds and £3 for under-13s - and receive 50 per cent of the proceeds towards their own running costs.
“We view it as a win-win for all sides,” said Wayne Cowen, head of ticketing and retail at Birmingham City. “We understand how important grassroots football is through the work we do in our academy and we want to be supportive of it. The added bonus for us is extra supporters in the stadium, many of them youngsters who will hopefully become future Birmingham City fans.”
The initiative has been welcomed by the Save Grassroots Football campaign, who are calling on the Premier League to contribute 7.5 percent of its broadcasting income to the grassroots game.
Campaign founder Kenny Saunders, who has organised protests over rising pitch fees and poor facilities in grassroots football, has hailed the initiative as an important breakthrough in the relationship between the professional and amateur games.
“It’s fantastic what Birmingham are doing to help teams and leagues in their area,” said Saunders.
“They understand the problems in grassroots football and football in general, given their own experiences over the last few years. They want more people watching their games, more homegrown players coming into their system and to help grassroots football. Their initiative addresses all of that."
Birmingham have struggled to attract large numbers of supporters since being relegated from the Premier League in May 2011. Their last home game in the top flight, a 2-0 defeat to Fulham, saw a crowd of 27,759 at St Andrew's, while this season's highest attendance so far is 18,309.
To help push the initiative, the Blues are compiling a league table of tickets sold by each local team and, as well as keeping 50 per cent of the ticket revenue, participants will be invited to take part in a dedicated grassroots day at St Andrew’s later in the season.
Cowen adds: “The scheme is running now but we will be making a feature of it for the Rotherham United game on 3 April. We hope to give teams who are part of the scheme an opportunity to be guard of honour, or to lead the teams out or play on the pitch at half-time. We want to show how it has benefited the teams and leagues involved.
“We get a lot of requests from grassroots teams for kit or signed merchandise to help them financially and this way we give an opportunity to teams that want to help themselves. The scheme is in its infancy but hopefully it will attract hundreds, hopefully even thousands more people to our matches.”
Any Birmingham clubs or leagues hoping to get involved or find out more about the initiative are asked to contact Birmingham City's consumer sales manager Helen Wilkins-Tims on 0844 557 1448 or e-mail email@example.com.