Shelbourne FC will introduce a “Pay What You Like” scheme for admission to the final home game of the Só Hotels Women’s National League this coming Sunday, Oct 20.
The match will take place in Tolka Park at 2pm against newly crowned league champions, Wexford Youths Women FC, and supporters will be asked to pay whatever they deem appropriate for admission.
At the beginning of the 2019 season, the Club undertook a number of initiatives to increase the profile of its women’s teams and to take steps towards equality and parity of esteem.
These included a commitment to playing all matches in Tolka Park, combined kit and sponsorship deals across the men’s and women’s teams and unified social media channels.
“Shelbourne FC aspires to equality and parity of esteem for all our players and we took some important steps in that direction for the 2019 season,” said Shelbourne FC CEO David O’Connor announcing this latest initiative.
“The challenge now is to keep up that momentum and all of us who support these aims need to ask the tough question of how this can be achieved while gate receipts and sponsorship income for women’s football continues to be considerably lower than for the men’s game.”
“The market price for a men’s match in the National League is €15 while it’s €5 for a women’s match.”
“We typically get attendances of 1,000 or more for a men’s match while a women’s match might get 50 or 60 people and some of those would be under 16s that we admit free of charge.”
“There’s an argument that says we shouldn’t charge at all to encourage attendance but match costs for a women’s match are comparable to the costs of a men’s match and have to be met somehow. The Club subsidises costs to a degree but there is still a shortfall.
“We’re trialing this ‘Pay What You Like’ scheme to see what value supporters that come to a WNL game put on it themselves. If it’s a success, we’ll consider sticking with it for the 2020 season.”
It will be interesting to follow up on this and see what impact it has on attendance and receipts. A one-off event may set a price point that people are willing to pay though people also like to be guided towards what they think is a fair price.
Allowing children in for free or at a deep discount works well in terms of securing a fan base for the future and getting the price right for those who will accompany them or who enjoy the match day experience is crucial.
Grading games according to importance can be effective. This weekend’s Dublin Senior Hurling Final will have a price point of €20 at Parnell Park with u16’s paying €5, while the preceding knock out games were €10 with kids free.
We will follow up with Shelbourne next week to see what the outcome has been.