September 23, 2017

SC Paderborn catches criticism for increased ticket prices

Fans of the newly promoted side have to dish out more than any other fans in the Bundesliga for their season tickets; however, disabled fans have especially victimized by the East-Westphalian club’s pricing policy – these fans’ ticket prices have tripled since the club was promoted to the Bundesliga.

Four points after two matches. Players who had been forgotten or put aside by other teams. The story of SC Paderborn can be sold as an absolute tear jerker to football romantics. However, as the blog Schwarz und Blau points out, there has been a considerable amount of unhappiness among the SCP fans, because of the club’s ticket pricing policy. On match day 1, fans at the Benteler Arena held up a banner reading: ‘For the fat cats you erect an entire tent, but the average fan doesn’t fit in your world’.

According to Der Übersteiger the cheapest season ticket for the Benteler Arena costs currently 255€. By comparison, fans of VfL Wolfsburg get away by paying  130€ and Bayern’s fans dish out 140€ for the cheapest season tickets. Borussia Dortmund are the Bundesliga’s second most expensive team in this regard, but the 204€ which fans have to pay for their season tickets, the club includes the three group matches in the Champions League. At the other end of the spectrum are the most expensive season tickets, a category which is also topped by the newly promoted team. Those who purchased one of these tickets ahead of the start at the season had to dish out a whopping 850€ to watch the matches of the SCP in the Bundesliga. Both HSV and Eintracht Frankfurt are closest to Paderborn when it comes to their high-end season tickets, but both teams charge their paying customers 60€ less than the newly promoted side.

Fans protest against the price hikes for disabled fans

Compared to last season, Paderborn’s fans have seen their season tickets prices surge from 165€ to 255€ for the cheapest tickets and from 396€ to 850€ for the most expensive ones. However, even though these measures seem to be rather drastic, the fans don’t seem to mind to pay a bit more in order to make up for the fact that the Benteler Arena only has a capacity of 15,000 spectators.

However, the fans behind the banner issued a statement explaining their reasons for their actions:

What bothers us about the pricing policy? It’s not really the fact that our season tickets are the most expensive season tickets in the entire Bundesliga. It’s more the circumstance that even the weaker members of our society aren’t spared! That means that disabled persons and their chaperones have to face a drastic price hike.

The German newspaper Neue Westphälische writes on their internet site that prices for disabled fans have gone up from 358€ for a season ticket 765€ per ticket. On top of this price hike, chaperones have to pay to come along as well after Paderborn were promoted, meaning that the total cost of a season ticket for these fans have been increased to 1152,20€ for a season ticket. This means in reality that some fans of Paderborn have to face an increase of season ticket prices by more than 220%.

There are 40 total places designated for disabled fans according to the paper. Financially, this means that the increase in revenue for these seats is limited to 32,000€, provided that every single fan brings along a chaperone to the matches. On top of that, the club has changed its condition for handing out tickets at a reduce price to persons with a disability. In the Bundesliga 2, fans can get a ticket at a reduced rate if they had a 10% degree of disability; ahead of this season, those fans have been excluded from getting tickets at reduced rate as long as their degree of disability isn’t at 50% or a higher percentage.

Paderborn’s club’s vice-president, Martin Hornberger, told Neue Westphälische that he doesn’t understand the criticism of the club’s pricing policy for wheelchair users and other fans who are disabled:

The increase in prices has happened in every category after we were promoted to the Bundesliga. Inclusion means an equal right to belong, which means that we have also raised the prices for disabled fans. It’s only fair towards all the other spectators in the stadium. The chaperones watch first tier football, too, but they are only paying 50% of the reduced ticket price. We took our cue from the pricing policy of most other Bundesliga clubs.

However, a quick check up on the internet reveals that Paderborn are one of only two clubs who charge for bringing a chaperone along to the game. The season tickets for wheelchair users at Bayern, Schalke and Dortmund are considerably lower than at Paderborn (80€, 170€ and 92,50€) and Hertha BSC are even going as far as allowing wheelchair users and their chaperones into the stadium for free.

One can’t help but feel that increasing the prices for wheelchair users at a considerably high rate than for the rest of the ground leaves a rather foul taste in one’s mouth. It is certainly something that the run of the mill football romantic is going to appreciate.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 30-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball and on the @AufstiegPod.

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