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BLUEBIRDS' EASYJET-STYLE PRICE PLAN HITS RUNWAY; Ticketing move is first in UK.

Byline: James McCarthy

BLUEBIRDS' bosses are overhauling the club's price policy by switching to an EasyJet-style ticketing system.

When tickets go on sale for next season, they will be cheaper than last year - but the more popular games get, the pricier seats will become.

Bosses at Cardiff City insisted the new demand-based rates would offer fans best value and prices would be capped "on a game by game basis".

But the club admitted that once prices start going up, they will not come back down - even if demand plummets.

It was unclear yesterday exactly how high prices might go, although it is understood expensive tickets will not rise above pounds 35.

Cardiff City spokesman Barrie Mc-Auliffe insisted top prices would be "sensible".

The club's ticketing boss Julian Jenkins said: "The price will only ever go up and not down, which rewards people who purchase early."

He said season ticket holders would still get the best value, adding the club would write to all season ticket holders to explain the ins and outs of the new system.

"We will always look after our season ticket holders," he said.

Individual tickets will be priced on different factors, including whether the game was on TV, when it was being held and the standing of the away team.

The system is also being adopted by Derby County, although Cardiff City is the first club to apply the new system to its entire stadium.

"Derby and Cardiff City are pioneering this in the UK," said Mr Jenkins.

"We are leading the way." Cardiff City will be using software designed by US firm Digonex.

Chief executive Alan Whiteley said: "We are all excited about the positive impact that demand-based pricing will have on both our attendance and revenue next season."

Accountant and expert on football finance, Keith Morgan, said he was confident the new scheme would "get more people through the turnstiles" because it will attract people to less popular games.

"They have to be careful that they do not price the tickets so low that, someone paying for a season ticket, their nose is not put out of joint," he said.

"In theory it is a good idea. But I have not seen the mechanics of it.

"It would be quite handy if the club explained it properly, which I assume they will.

"They should be explaining it on their website.

"I think they thought about [doing something similar] in the past, but never got around to doing it.

"I remember speaking to Peter Ridsdale when they were thinking of packaging together six games, three popular and three less popular, so people could buy blocks of games - a mix and match.

"That would have been cheaper than buying on an individual game basis."

Fans were last night supportive of the plan. Howard Morris, of Cardiff City Supporters Club, dubbed it a "modern 21st century system".

He said: "It will encourage supporters and families with tight budgets to buy their tickets early at a good price.

"The cost will also reflect the significance of the game, whether it be a promotion decider or a run-of-the-mill fixture.

"Importantly, it gives our football club the opportunity to optimise their revenue at both high and low profile games."

Supporters' Trust chairman Tim Hartley said: "Dynamic ticket pricing is an innovative way to ensure the stadium is full."

The change comes hot on the heels of the decision by the club's Malaysian owners to change the colour of home shirts from blue to red.

Carl Curtis, of cardiffcityforum.co.uk, said: "With the change in shirts it was a totally different issue.

"This is part of a strategy to bring in supporters in South Wales.

"From what I can gather, the rebranding and change of shirt and badge, that was for the international market.

"This is to get locally based fans into the stadium and so totally different," he said.

CAPTION(S):

* Cardiff City supporters who queue to buy tickets next season will see the price rise as demand increases for each game PICTURE: Wales News Service
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 27, 2012
Words:677
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