Why it was so important that QPR listened over ticket prices

I will remember Saturday 10 April 1993 for as long as I live, and for different reasons.

That afternoon, I saw QPR overcome Nottingham Forest in a thrilling encounter at Loftus Road that ended 4-3.

It was a day I saw Les Ferdinand score a hat-trick, a feat he repeated days later against Everton, and the day I saw a young Roy Keane marauding up and down the Forest midfield.

But it was also the first day I ever went to Loftus Road on my own. I was nine years old.

I will never forget the look of anguish on my dad’s face as he walked me up to the entrance and simply said “Go on son”.

I couldn’t believe it. Up until that point, he had always taken me to watch QPR.

I tried to reason with him to buy a ticket, and he hesitated, but didn’t break. It was my first lesson in life about money.

I come from a poor family and my father just couldn’t afford to go anymore. But he knew just how much I loved my football and what it meant to me. He couldn’t bear to see me go without what I enjoyed most in my life.

The look of disappointment on his face lives with me. He loved his football as much as I did and that was our bond.

He took me to QPR matches from the moment I could stand, and I still remember being on the terraces with him and not being able to see anything because I was too short.

In the years after, on reflection, I realised this was a cliffhanger moment for me and my dad. Our relationship was never quite the same.

That day was one of the last times he ever went to Loftus Road, and he knew that would be his fate that afternoon.

It started a period of my life, throughout my childhood, into my teens and even into my early adulthood, where I went to watch QPR alone.

I did drag friends down from time to time and sometimes couldn’t afford to go myself, so begged friends to help me, and I’m eternally grateful for their kindness.

My dad changed over the years too. QPR and indeed football lost him as a fan.

He still always took an interest, reading about them in the papers and watching them on TV, but he drifted away from Rangers.

He became a Newcastle United and Fulham armchair fan in his later years, mainly because of his love for Kevin Keegan, who was his idol.

But like me, is at heart, just a man who loves his football and wants to support his local team.

His story is a reminder of what can happen when struggling families can no longer afford to go, and the impact it can have on them that goes beyond just football.

It’s why QPR need to get their pricing right and understand its impact and what it means to its community.

It’s why pricing matters – and is more important to a football club than they realise.

For every fan who has lost a fellow supporter through affordability, be it family or friends, there’s an underlying sorrow, regret and sometimes resentment that lurks beneath and is always in the back of your mind.

This lasts through the good times and the bad. When things go well, something is missing and you wish they were there to enjoy the moment with you. When things go wrong, it often affects the atmosphere, which translates onto the pitch and through to the players.

My story was over 20 years ago. The price of football has rocketed even further since, but is a stark reminder than when prices were generally thought to be affordable back then, it still priced people out who mattered.

There is another side to this as well. It’s not all about goodwill going one way. It never has been at a club like Rangers.

There have been times down the years when I’ve deliberately paid match-by-match, just because I wanted to do my bit to help the club when it was in dire straights.

Today I am vice-chairman of QPR1st, the supporters Trust, where I’ve been on the committee for over five years.

I’ve recently been involved with discussing ticket pricing with the club on behalf of the Trust, as well as with other supporters’ groups over the past couple of months.

The reduction in prices is very welcome, but there is more work that needs to be done and it shouldn’t stop here.

I know many people who still can’t afford to go today and won’t be able to next season either. We have to work hard to make sure that they don’t feel like the club is leaving them, just as it did for my father.

The club, however, from the owners to the various staff involved, deserve credit for listening to our concerns and acting upon them. It’s a step forward, and probably a bigger one than even they realise.

My message to them is always going to be the same; we want to help and go into battle with you on the pitch – with our family and friends by our sides.

Don’t price us out. Price us in.


For more information about QPR 1st, visit www.qpr1st.co.uk



Follow West London Sport on Twitter
Find us on Facebook