Dispelling the £120k Old Firm Myth

It’s that time of year again, where the St Mirren board lift their collective skirt to the Old Firm in their lust for the Green/Blue pound, which if you believed chief executive Tony Fitzpatrick and some of our own fans, the club vitally needs to even put players on the park. Without it, there’s no Jamie McGrath they say, therefore family of four please piss off and let us sell your seats to the biggest embarrassment in European football if you want to see another full back on the bench next season.

The magic “extra profit” figure quoted time and time again by the board for displacing season ticket holders in the Tony Fitzpatrick Stand and allowing the old firm into the home end, is £120k a season, that’s how much selling our soul and angering season ticket holders is worth in 2021. To use the boards own argument against them, that’s Josh Heaton signed from Darlington with his signing on fee and one years wages. What a bargain.

Even so, it doesn’t seem like much to be honest. Initially Gordon Scott used the argument in 2018 that we needed to stabilise our place in the Premiership as it was our first season back at that level, and we had to explore all income streams available. At the time I stated this was a softener to cushion the blow, and the board would just run with it from then on. Unfortunately I have been proven correct on that matter, however is this magical figure of £120k EXTRA profit that we allegedly need so much, actually accurate?

If you take it in complete isolation, the revenue generated is indeed around this figure, as 1600 away fans paying £28 each, minus 100 concessions for three times a season, equals £129,600. So what’s your point Cairters, I can hear at the back from those with the Collin Quaner t-shirts on? Sure, it’s revenue, but is it extra money? No, is the answer.

After Police and Stewarding costs are deducted (all extra as normal people are no longer in the stand) this figure drops down to £110,000 as around £20k extra in this area would be required over the three guaranteed matches against the old firm. This is based on the 2018 FOI carried out by the Ferret website where one police officer costs a club £24 for every hour worked.

Crucially however, is lost revenue from season ticket holders in the family stand. On average, the family stand season ticket is £65 cheaper than the West Stand as they only get 16 matches as opposed to 19, and have to buy matches against the old firm separately, where they are relocated to another part of the stadium and no choice of seat offered. That’s the bit the board won’t tell you, these families can be put anywhere in a stand. So, for 500 season ticket holders in the Family Stand, that’s the club LOSING £32,500 of season ticket money from their normal income before this 2018 decision, and the £120k figure comes down further to £75k.

Of course some of those fans will buy tickets, but as the ratio used previously to justify giving the stand away was 1 in 5 fans turning up in for old Firm games, 100 of those fans will buy £10 tickets, totalling £1000, lifting the figure up to £76k.

Those fans in favour of their own supporters being turfed out for the old firm, will of course argue that £76k is still “one player” and “we are a business” but as you hold aloft your Ryan Edwards posters and Wall Street DVD’s, remember we used to give the old firm 800 tickets already for the West Stand, so actually the EXTRA tickets given is only another 800 to fill the 1600 seats in the family stand.

That means from day one, the £120k figure was double what it ever should have been, and the money generated by relocating Old Firm fans to the Family Stand should actually be only half of any revenue or profit ever stated as the extra tickets number is 800 not 1600.

This fact takes the much quoted £129,000 top line figure down to £64,500 and the actual additional profit so often spoken about as the justification for this decision, is only £38,000. And that’s over 3 matches remember, so for £12,667 per match, some fans are more than happy for hundreds of season ticket holders to be displaced or absent, and home advantage in our hardest matches of the season diluted considerably. Is it really worth it now?

Of course I haven’t considered revenue generated previously by non season ticket holders purchasing a match day ticket. If an average of 100 fans bought one for the family stand for the three matches, that’s an extra £8000 generated, and suddenly the total profit drops to £30,000 over three matches. I ask again, is it really worth the money?