Crowdfunding efforts have raised tens of thousands of pounds to support those traveling to Sunday’s National League final, after widespread concern over the high ticket price.
Grimsby will face Solihull Moors at London Stadium, with the winner claiming a place in League Two. But the National League has admitted it did not “always fix things” when fans were left with prices of at least £ 40 plus dining fees per seat.
On Thursday, the league sponsor, Vanarama, donated £ 20,000 to each club to help subsidize bus travel.
Grimsby’s Mariners Trust supporters group said fans – including those from Wrexham, the club they defeated in the semifinals – raised an additional £ 23,000 to help buy tickets and travel. Solihull said they would contribute £ 12 towards the cost of each concession ticket purchased at its end. Concession tickets cost £ 20.
Estimates from the Sailors Trust suggested a family of four would have to pay £ 304.95 to go to the match, after the lower price of £ 40 level of tickets was exhausted. The remaining seats cost £ 45. All tickets are subject to £ 3 for a ticket booking fee and there is a 99p digital delivery fee for booking.
“How can it be when a family of four has … £ 304.95 to find in a week and that’s without food or drink and all during a severe cost of living crisis?” the trust said. “We’ve already seen some fans despair that they just can’t afford it, while others will use any possible means because not being there just isn’t a choice for them after a previous season without football.”
Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling has joined a chorus of online complaints as he said fans were treated “shamefully”. Soccer Saturday host and Hartlepool fan tweeted: “Don’t we want people to support their local teams? They already have to pay for a trip to Solihull or Grimsby to East London. These fans are the basis of football and yet treated with shame. “
The National League said minimum prices were cheaper than last year’s final held at Ashton Gate in Bristol, but that a search for a venue capable of accommodating large crowds meant a change in ticket choices. Last season tickets cost £ 41.00, plus a £ 1.25 transaction fee per ticket, with no concession fee available.
“At the National League the staff and management are acutely aware of the current financial challenges facing fans across the country and equally recognize that without the fans the game does not exist,” the league said.
“We don’t always get everything right but we make every decision to the best advantage of our clubs and the competition and we hope fans will understand the challenge of balance, securing a prominent venue and the consequent costs involved with that.
“Although we were able to keep the base fare lower than last season and that of under-16s, we do acknowledge that there is a premium on the higher fares and that the low-priced tickets have quickly run out.
“To be clear, the National League will not take profits from Sunday’s final – 100% of the proceeds will go back to our member clubs.”