Rovers Burn The 'Pool
Having gone to work at the Intertoto Cup tie on Saturday between Blackburn and FK Vetra at Ewood Park; I found that what surrounded me was quality a million miles away from what we are currently 'living with` at Bloomfield Road.
Approaching the ground, the ticket offices (notice the plural in there!) were clearly marked, queues were manned by stewards and it took all of 10 minutes to arrive at the front of a queue that consisted of at least 200 people. Ewood Park has eight ticketing booths in its office area, which were all in use, allowing the ever-increasing queue to move at a steady pace.
My match ticket was a pound, for European football. My other alternative was to go and pay a tenner to watch a half cop friendly at Gigg Lane. Why didn`t Blackpool officials have the foresight to charge an acceptable price for the Wigan match? There were only 2500 at Bloomers last week, and I can`t help but wonder that the club missed a trick. If say, kids were allowed in for a quid, and adults for a tenner, think of the extra revenue 'Pool would have made. I`m guessing the club made around £35000 on gate receipts, whereas with an estimated 4000 extra on the gate, they could have made something in the region of £50000 (based on 4500 adults and 3000 under 16`s) - for what was - on paper - an attractive game. Taking into account paying more stewards, the £50K would be slashed by a couple of thousand. However, the catering area hasn`t been calculated yet, and at £2 a pie and £2 a coke, they`d be making a very tidy profit. But no, probably best to stick to the ridiculously expensive and ludicrous ticketing prices…
On entering the stadium (don`t get me started on the signage outside the ground, it really is easy isn`t it?!) we weren`t greeted by turnstiles, just a walk way with state of the art machinery that allowed your ticket to be swiped through the system, and thus counting the attendance on a computer. Obviously, less expense then needs to be spent on turnstile employees.
Underneath the ground, the concourse area was huge. Ok, the prices of food and drink were more expensive than ours, but the freedom that the normal fan has under there is brilliant. None of this struggling past vast amounts of people with your beer balanced on your nose like at Bloomers, oh no, you`re able to walk and not tip-toe your way through towards a suitable area to eat and drink. At each kiosk over five people served, compared to our two or three (the bitter wasn`t off either like at Bloomers!) and the amounts of people buying food was about the same as it is here at each kiosk, due to the numbers of kiosks stationed at Rovers. There were still pies left at half-time. The lager didn`t look like water. Service was done with a smile!
On leaving the ground, I checked for queues at the top of the stand like at 'Pool; none to be seen.
It really was a pleasure to watch football in a clean environment (the environment being within the ground, not around town, as that`s a totally different matter!), and I felt I enjoyed the experience at Blackburn Rovers.
To add, their club shop was a sports world (like the one at Deepdale retail park) which had a wide variety of sports clothes, at discounted prices for fans to normal shops. Lots of 'Pool fans I know go to Deepdale retail park; would one at Bloomfield Road be a good idea?
Finally, Ewood Park has a sports bar built into it that supporters were wandering into without hassle after the game. Since the knock down of the Tangerine Club we`ve had nothing like that at Bloomfield Road, and I`d urge the club to build a sports bar into the south stand!
What was the overriding feeling of mine over the course of Saturday was that we might be improving on the pitch, but off it we lack professionalism and class, failing to do the basics right like Rovers have done. We`re not a Premiership club, but surely even a club like ours should strive to make a matchday experience pleasant for fans?
Now 'Pool embarks on The Championship, still in a League One (or maybe two?) clubs` body…