Pompey pricing twist backed to yield bumper gate

Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin
Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin
Pompey suffered defeat to Charlton. Picture: Joe Pepler

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It’s the pricing twist Pompey are banking on to attract a bumper pre-season crowd to Fratton Park.

And chief executive Mark Catlin believes the novel ticket pricing scheme for the Charlton game will also serve as a gesture of thanks to those who have continued to stick by the club.

Blues supporters are being offered the chance to watch the Saturday, July 20, home friendly with the Addicks for just £1.

That is the minimum price in the ‘Pay What You Want’ scheme which asks fans to contribute whatever they wish in order to attend.

Those paying cash have no restrictions on their entrance fee.

However, fans using credit and debit cards are limited to increments of £1, £5, £10 and upwards due to the existing system.

The general concept has been employed several times by clubs in recent years – most notably by Brentford in their League One clash with Stevenage in December.

Mansfield did it against Gateshead in February 2010, with fans paying as little as 3p and the Field Mill crowd reaching 4,000.

Now Pompey themselves have employed the idea for the visit of Charlton – one of two pre-season friendlies at Fratton this summer.

And Catlin is eyeing a crowd in excess of 7,000 for the occasion.

‘The idea has been used by quite a few clubs and has been successful elsewhere,’ he said.

‘Tom Clark and Steve Jones mentioned the idea in the office and it does have amazing success.

‘Having said that, a lot have raised more revenue than they expected from such events in the past.

‘It is all about getting bums on seats, to re-engage with supporters, and this is just a way of thanking our fans for all the support they have given.

‘We want to get people to contribute to the club as much as they want to, don’t feel obliged for £20-£30. It is a £1 minimum and the reason we do that is to cover the cost of producing the tickets on the day.

‘What we would like to do is get people coming down as soon as possible to get their tickets.

‘We are anticipating there will be a lot of last-minute people turning up on the day.

‘I repeat, it is up to the fans what they pay.

‘I think a lot of people would contribute £1 but that will be off-set by others paying more than we regularly charge.

‘There are no obligations. We will not hold paying £1 against anyone and there will be no blacklist.

‘Charlton have been very helpful in allowing us to implement this offer.

‘Normally it is done jointly for such a friendly, but they have let us drive it forward, which we really appreciate.

‘Hopefully, the supporters will enjoy the day, which also marks Fans’ Day.

‘I would be disappointed personally if the attendance was not 6-7,000-plus. We’re certainly looking to get a lot more than that.

‘Normally you are looking at 5-6,000 for such a friendly but, fingers crossed, the fans will turn out in greater numbers for this initiative.’

Charlton is one of five first-team friendlies booked in during the build-up to the forthcoming League Two campaign.

The others are the Hawks (July 9), Bognor (July 13), Braintree (July 16) and Bournemouth (July 23).

In addition, a Pompey XI will visit Gosport (July 30) for a match involving mainly development group and fringe players.

A sixth friendly is still to be finalised, although Saturday, July 27, has been put aside to accommodate that at Fratton Park.

Meanwhile, progress is being made on the training ground front, with an announcement on the new base anticipated to be made in the next fortnight.

Catlin, who today is attending the Football League’s three-day AGM, is delighted with the club’s progress on all fronts.

And he believes the ‘Pay What You Want Scheme’ is indicative of all the effort those behind the scenes are putting in at present.

He added: ‘It is all about getting people back down to watch, bums on seats.

‘We want to make this a fun place to come for people and a lot of what we are trying to do is made bearing that in mind.

‘I believe we have done amazingly well since the takeover less than six weeks ago now.

‘We exited administration with no manager, no assistant manager, no training ground, no players, no sponsors and no infrastructure.

‘Since then we have turned it all around through hard work and the brilliance of our staff and fans.

‘I think we have done incredibly well and don’t believe that at this stage it could have gone any better.’