Saturday, January 27, 2007

The fifty quid question

The magic of the FA Cup. I’ve always loved cup days even though with Palace, a cup run is usually just that – a day.

But here we are through to the fourth round and with half a hope of making it into the hat for round five, athough I worry that Preston is yet another club that seems to have some kind of magic sign over us.

Sadly, it’s a quarter to one and while many fans will be starting to gather in the pubs around Selhurst Park, I won’t be there. I did take my son to the third round tie against Swindon but this time out financial reality bites. Even buying the tickets in advance, once I’ve included drinks and a programme it would cost me the best part of £50 to take both my children.

Perhaps I’m out of touch with reality, but I’ll repeat that… ‘fifty pounds’. It’s bloody expensive, and bear in mind that these are actually reduced prices, normal league games cost more. It grieves me to say that at that price they’ll have to do without me, it’s just too much, we’re still recovering from Christmas and I haven’t got it.

I don’t know what the attendance will be today, but it won’t be much to write home about and there won’t be a sudden rush given that Palace, in their infinite wisdom, raise ticket prices by a fiver on the day (what is the point of that?). Thousands of regulars including many season ticket holders will stay away, probably factoring into their decision the fact that Preston are hardly attractive opposition and Palace have been anything but inspiring to watch this season. I can’t take the chance that, come five o’clock, I’ll be left thinking that I’ve wasted £50.

It’s a tough one. Many fans would argue that you have to support the team through thick and thin and even those who are a bit more flush might feel that it’s a realistic price, but not for families it isn’t. I can’t justify the price the club wants for what will almost certainly be a second rate football experience.

My son, who is ten, has been quite good about it. He loves to go to games and has asked and I’ve just had to be honest: ‘Sorry mate, I’d love to take you, I wish I was there myself, but we just can’t afford it at the moment.’ So he’s watching Luton v Blackburn on the telly when really we should be on the train to Norwood Junction about now.

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