The other day I wrote a piece about the ongoing ownership debate.
How, to my mind, the succession had happened and the more frustrated of Norwich’s punters would just have to suck it up in terms of the owners’ lack – or otherwise – of ambition.
It prompted a welcome raft of comments; something that – ten years in – still delights me. That it is possible to have reasoned and passionate debate about the ever-changing fortunes of a much beloved football club without the bile and vitriol to be found elsewhere.
There was, however, one comment that stood out. The one that suggested putting a lower cap on the number of season ticket holders.
The more I thought about it, the more sense it made.
Time was – pre-parachute payments – when getting in as much guaranteed income as possible as early as possible was essential to calm the frayed nerves of the local bank manager.
He or she could see guaranteed income there in front of them. Ticket sales in the bag and in the bank. Job done.
And with summer finances duly secured, the managers transfer budget could be allocated accordingly.
Let’s argue that the whole financial landscape of football has changed for a yoyo club of Norwich’s ilk.
Now the TV cash is king. And whilst guaranteed season ticket is still important, it pales by comparison to the riches on offer via simple membership of the English Premier League.
The club can afford to be more creative with its season ticket policy.
Which might not be music to the ears of many.
For long years, the club was in thrall to its season ticket fan base; hour upon office hour was spent making sure everyone was seated in their desired location – where they had been for the better part of a generation.
But here’s the danger. That sense of entitlement to that seat there, year after year, can underpin the thought processes of those that do nothing but moan. Which then devalues the experience for those that just want to kick back and enjoy their Saturday afternoon.
If – and it’s still a huge if – the club did limit its season ticket base to say 12,000 then the mood could be lightened by a fresh crop of supporters sampling the occasion for the first time; encouraging a whole new generation of kids to support their local team.
Sure, they might struggle with the words of ‘On The Ball City!’ – but is that a price worth paying for opening up the match day experience to a wider fan base?
And then there would be those that didn’t renew their season tickets simply for the level of moaning they encountered; they may well return knowing their chance of being within ear shot of that particular Miserable Old Git had been substantially lessened with a new, open door policy.
So, OK, I’ve donned my Devil’s Advocate cape and mask.
But at a 12,000-type level, some 50% odd of the existing season ticket base would still have a chance of being there the next season; albeit there would be issues accommodating those that have signed up for a lifetime deal…
Given the breadth of hinterland Norwich enjoy in terms of its catchment area, I don’t see empty seats on a Premiership match day.
This isn’t Wigan with the two, big neighbours to fight against interest-wise.
This is Norwich and Norfolk. And the top half of Suffolk. And much of Cambridgeshire. And bits of Lincolnshire.
City would get bums on seats. Just not the same derrières for year after year. With all the stagnant thinking and perceptions that can breed.
I’m sure logistically adopting such a policy would be a nightmare. Well, I guess it would.
And threatening to alienate certain sections of your season ticket fan base might have repercussions.
But as the commenter noted, if you’re not enjoying the fare on offer, don’t go. Give yourself a break for a month or two. Come back refreshed and renewed; interest restored.
The Championship is not built for entertainment. It is a job that has to be done.
It’s a grind and a slog, a war of attrition en route to the riches of the English Premier League.
And if it’s not for you, then fine. Let it be for someone else – a six-year-old kid and a parent; making that first appearance at a live sporting occasion. One of those rites of passage that last a lifetime.
As I say, it’s the Devil’s Advocate speaking.
But year on year, the glass fulls versus the glass empties come to dominate the debates; rancour that invariably spills out onto the pitch as the players match the mood.
So how about opening up the occasion to those whose glass has never been filled? One way or the other.
Lighten the mood, change the atmosphere and see what happens…