Wembley’s prices surprised me
Sunday played host to Rotherham United vs Sutton United in the Papa Johns Trophy Final. As a long-time Rotherham supporter, I’ve been lucky enough to go to Wembley three times in eight years; this was my first as an adult.
Experiencing the stadium as someone over eighteen came with it perks, e.g. beer! I was reminded on the coach journey there that we were visiting a London football ground—a notoriously expensive location. We joked amongst us about what the price of a pint would be, with the general consensus being around £7.
When we arrived at Wembley Stadium, we were pleasantly surprised to find pints were £5.05. Whilst that’s extortionate in comparison to the prices charged by the working men’s club I inhabit, a fiver a pint is cheaper than some pubs in Rotherham.
It’s fair to say that Rotherham isn’t the most affluent town in the country, and with the cost-of-living crisis currently plaguing the UK, I was concerned about my fellow supporters and whether they would be able to enjoy their day; however, we found Wembley Stadium to be quite reasonable.
Its food offering was a bit hit and miss, admittedly. For a pie—on its own, with no chips, peas or gravy—£4.99 didn’t appear to be great value for money. However, when I compare this to other stadiums and venues, especially music venues, this was, once again, fairly priced. Even the ticket cost to see the football match wasn’t ridiculous. I paid £21 for a young adult’s ticket, excluding a £2.40 booking fee, which is similar, if not cheaper, than what most professional football grounds charge around the UK.
Wembley could have really hurt fans’ pockets and exploited them for what some avid football supporters would describe as a once in a lifetime opportunity. They didn’t, however, and this is quite commendable in current times, particularly so for a stadium that cost a billion pounds to build in today’s money.
I’m aware that, for some people, their prices would still be too much; I’m therefore being careful not to overly praise this huge corporation. For example, there was no option to pay in instalments, which, for fans who may not have the money now or who can only afford to give up a small amount of money each week/month, is quite disappointing; it ultimately prices them out of ever seeing their team at Wembley. For children in poorer families, this must be incredibly disappointing.
What wasn’t great value for money was the cost of public transport. The coach to Wembley cost me £40, which I felt was too expensive. Or, at least, I did until I considered how little profit coach companies must be making with today’s ridiculous fuel prices. They also have the London green air zone charges to contend with and the price of parking at the ground.
£40 was cheap when compared with my original choice of transport…rail. I find the train a more enjoyable experience than being stuck on a coach. It’s more comfortable, more refined and, usually, much quicker. I looked at booking the train a month in advance, which would usually present a relatively decent price, in comparison to booking a day or two beforehand. However, the cheapest price for me and my grandad to go to London and back was around £120. This seemed mental! I often travel with LNER to Newcastle and back, and it rarely costs me more than £30; for LNER to charge £60 a person to London was insulting.
Particularly given that LNER is not a big rail company looking to maximise profits. It’s owned by the UK government, and its intention should not be to make as much money as possible. Its job should be to serve the British people, providing a link from the North to the nation’s capital. I can’t blame diesel prices either as it’s an electric train, and though energy prices have risen, power it with wind turbines and there’s no issue.
Ultimately, I find it disappointing that travelling to the stadium was the most expensive part of the day. It doesn’t sit right with me and feels very exploitative. With everything rising in cost, I highly doubt this will change anytime soon.
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