How much the six PO postcode clubs are charging for Wessex League Premier Division season tickets in 2021/22
AFC Portchester boast the cheapest season ticket prices among the six PO postcode clubs due to compete in a mouthwatering 2021/22 Wessex League Premier Division campaign.
The Royals have slashed the price of an adult season ticket to just £50 - £45 cheaper than neighbours Fareham Town and £40 cheaper than Moneyfields.
That works out an average of £2.63 across 19 league games, compared to the 2021/22 matchday adult admission price of £7.
In addition, anyone who bought a Portchester season ticket for last season - where they were able to watch seven home league games before the campaign was curtailed by the pandemic - will get a FREE one for 2021/22.
Members of the NHS, armed forces and emergency services can buy a half-price season ticket for £25.
The price of an adult season ticket at The Crest Finance Stadium - which covers 19 home league games plus all under-23s, under-18s and ladies games at the ground - is further reduced to just £40 if they are a member of the Arancione supporters club.
Elsewhere in PO postcode land, the prices for an adult season ticket are as follows - Horndean (£80), US Portsmouth (£75) and Baffins Milton (£70). Anyone who was a season ticket holder at Baffins in 2020/21 can buy one for £10 for next season.
Portchester have also taken the decision not to charge any existing sponsors for the forthcoming Wessex season which begins in early August.
The Royals boasted the largest average attendance - 264 - in last season’s Wessex Premier.
Though crowds at most local non-league grounds were up - no doubt helped by the fact Pompey fans couldn’t attend Fratton Park fixtures - the Royals benefited more than anyone.
On occasions, the club reached the 300 maximum capacity set by Government restrictions for games at step 5 level of the non-league pyramid.
Now, if the season was starting this weekend, all Wessex Premier clubs would be allowed to admit 50 per cent of their ground’s capacity - 950, in Portchester’s case.
Kelly told The News the reasoning behind the decision to offer the cheapest Wessex Premier season tickets in the PO postcode area,
‘The directors had a meeting and we decided the last year has been tough for a lot of people, some have lost their jobs, furlough etc,’ he said.
‘Our crowds were very good at the start of last season and we thought it would be nice to give something back to those who had supported us.
‘There were about 30 season ticket holders (in 2020/21) and they will get a free season ticket for next season.
‘All the under-18s come in for nothing - I know other clubs offer half-price concessions - and we want to encourage the youngsters to come down.
‘We’d like to think there could be some secondary spend rather than charging them on the gate - a bottle of pop and a burger and it’s happy days!’
Recalling the improved attendances last September and October - and for games against Hamworthy and Baffins in December prior to the third national lockdown, after which the league season never restarted - Kelly remarked: ‘I was very surprised, and very pleased obviously.
‘We did claim some support from those who couldn’t watch Pompey - people just wanted to get out and watch some football.
‘I know a lot of other clubs did well out of that as well.
‘Our limit was 300 under Government restrictions and we hit that on occasions.
‘We’ve had bigger crowds - I remember we had over 400 against Moneyfields a few years ago.
‘When we played Petersfield in the Wessex Cup final (in 2014/15) we had 762 - I’m a bit sad for knowing that!’
Along with the other PO postcode clubs, Portchester should welcome some decent-sized attendances in 2021/22 for the 30 Premier derbies.
Kelly is disappointed, though, that only two of his club’s five derbies are scheduled for Saturday afternoons - the days when the club can benefit financially from pre-match hospitality deals.
Baffins (February 26) and Moneyfields (March 19) are due on a Saturday but games against Fareham (August 10), Horndean (September 28) and US Portsmouth (October 26) are all scheduled for Tuesdays.
Kelly believes the derby games could have been better organised.
‘Unfortunately, some of our PO derbies are on a Tuesday. I’m a bit disappointed, I think the Wessex League should have looked at that a little better,’ he said.
‘That’ll hit our pre-match hospitality revenues a bit.
‘Still, we’d like to think so (get crowds of over 400 next season).
‘We’ve got a new management team, Dave (Carter, boss) has brought in some good signings and there’s a buzz around the place.
‘I know we’ll get 300 for the Fareham game because we sold 300 tickets for that match last season (it was due to take place on December 27).
‘Everyone who bought a ticket for that game can use it (in August) - I think only one person asked for a refund.’
While so many derbies could help Portchester financially, they could also hit their promotion hopes on the pitch.
The line of thinking is this - get ready for a cliche - but form goes out of the window in derby games due to their ultra-competitive nature.
Each of the local clubs will have 10 fiercely-contested derbies in 2021/22 - almost a quarter of their total fixtures (38). Could all those games, with clubs no doubt taking points off each other, play into someone else’s hands?
Most obviously, Hamworthy United, who were top of the Wessex Premier when last season was curtailed and who lifted the Wessex League Cup at Portchester last month with victory over US Portsmouth.
Asked if all those PO derbies could work against the local clubs, Kelly replied: ‘It could do.
‘There’s 30 points up for grabs in derbies - that’s a third of the points you’ll need to win the title.
‘It’s going to be another tough league.
‘Horndean will be up there, Moneyfields look strong. Fareham Town could be the local team to watch out for - Pete Stiles has done a fantastic job there and he always goes about his business quietly.
‘Elsewhere, Hamworthy will be strong. I saw them in the Wessex Cup final and they looked unstoppable - a strong, physical side.’
Portchester and Hamworthy will no doubt start next season as favourites to claim the one automatic promotion spot into the Southern League. The club finishing runners-up will face an away tie at a third or fourth bottom placed Step 4 club in a promotion/relegation play-off.
Kelly has always made no secret of his club’s ambition to reach step 4 level - and is stunned not everyone feels the same way at Wessex Premier level.
‘I do believe we are well established now to sustain ourselves at the next level,’ he admitted.
‘And if we got there, we would then look to push on again - why not?’
Christchurch turned down promotion to the Southern League a few weeks ago after having the best points-per-game record over two pandemic-scarred seasons. Instead, Lymington accepted the invite while Moneyfields dropped back down into the Wessex for financial reasons.
Kelly said he ‘couldn’t understand the mentality’ of Christchurch turning down promotion and added: ‘I don’t think clubs should be allowed to choose whether to go up or not.’
SEASON TICKET PRICES 2021/22
Adults: £50 (£40 if a member of the Arancione supporters club)
Concessions (NHS, armed forces and emergency services): £25
Baffins Milton Rovers
Existing season ticket holders £10
Adults: £95 (£90 early bird, by end of June)
Seniors/Juniors (12-16): £50 (£45)
Concessions (OAP, 12-16) £40
Children under 12 free with paying adult
Kelly, meanwhile, is hoping next month’s Ray Stainton and Steve Woods Memorial Cup friendlies with Gosport Borough become an annual event.
Borough recently approached the Royals with a view to setting up a trophy in memory of the two men.
Stainton, who passed in early 2020, was a former Pompey director and Gosport chief executive, while Woods, who passed away earlier this year, was a former Royals chairman and life president.
There will be two friendlies - at Privett Park on Saturday, July 10, and the return at Portchester six days later - with the trophy going to the team that wins on aggregate.
‘Ray was a supporter, he used to come down here (Portchester) a lot. He always used to give me good free advice as well,’ Kelly recalled.
‘After he had passed away, his son Craig told me that his dad used to love coming (to Portchester) more than any of the other local clubs. I was quite proud of that.
‘Gosport proposed the idea to us as a way of remembering two great men.
‘Hopefully it will become an annual event, and I’d like to think we’d have the two friendlies every year.
‘It would give us the opportunity to play on a nice pitch at a nice ground, and the home game would give us the chance to make some decent gate money.’