Macarthur FC director Sam Krslovic claims the rift with Sydney FC over the $50 Sky Blues active fans are being slugged to attend Saturday week’s derby at Campbelltown Stadium could have been avoided.
Krslovic insists he reached out to Sydney FC CEO Danny Townsend six weeks ago with a view to negotiating similar reciprocal membership discounts to those in place with fellow local rivals Western Sydney Wanderers.
Townsend, who on social media condemned travelling fans being “asked to pay a premium”, is adamant “no contact was made with anybody at Sydney FC” over the issue.
Townsend did contact the Bulls last week to voice his concerns over the prices, with Krslovic explaining that by that point lowering any tariffs was not possible.
He did concede, however, the Bulls had erred in asking their own active fans to cough up $50 to attend home games, adding the figure had been slashed by around 40 per cent.
“I called Danny in early December and left a voicemail message for him to have a chat about reciprocal membership arrangements and discounts, as we’ve done with the Wanderers,” Krslovic told The World Game.
“He didn’t call back and when Sydney contacted the club last week the arrangements with Ticketek were already in place.
“You have to remember that in the away bay we only have 171 tickets available to sell (because of COVID-19 health restrictions) out of around a possible 700.
“The security and police requirements around all that don’t drop despite the fact there’s a reduced capacity.
“They actually increase because of the risk profile (of the fixture).
“It’s not as simple as people think - there’s a health order in place until the end of January, and the game has been classified as medium risk by the police and Football Australia.
"Our first two matches (against Central Coast and Wellington) were classed as minimal risk.
“The cost of running the game is considerably higher than the Central Coast or Wellington matches.
“The (latest COVID-19) health requirements expire on January 31, and if the game (against the champions) was played on February 1, the whole thing would be different.”
Townsend told irate fans on Twitter: “I share your discord. I have raised my concerns with the club directly and it is clear they want to use the Covid limited seats to fill with their own fans and if any of ours are willing to pay a premium to attend they don’t seem to care. Watch on Kayo or @TheStarSydney.”
A Sydney spokesperson offered further clarification.
“All reciprocal ticketing arrangements with A-League clubs and their members are handled through the various membership departments, rather than at CEO level, and no contact was ever received by our team from Macarthur Bulls’ membership people,” he said.
“Regardless of any arrangement, Macarthur still have a choice on how they price their tickets.”
Meanwhile, Townsend pledged, though, not to impose tit-for-tat reprisals on members of The Bullpen when Macarthur visit Leichhardt Oval on April 24.
“We will be keeping our away tickets for Macarthur fans and all clubs at the same price. ($27). We need all the football fans we can get supporting our game right now - no matter what club they support,” he tweeted.
Macarthur have been under fire for their prices across the board as they seek to minimise losses in an inaugural season where all financial projections have been pummelled by the coronavirus pandemic.
Fans from both clubs who sit in general admission areas will need to stump up $45 for an adult ticket whilst a family of four are up for $125 for the derby.
By way of comparison, Melbourne Victory fans who travelled to Adelaide last week paid $26, whilst Western United charge $25 for home and away fans in active areas.
Defending Macarthur’s pricing policy, Krslovic added: “Due to Ticketek inside charges and the stadium rebate - which comes off the face value of our ticket - we lose between 14-25 per cent of a ticket price automatically.
“If it’s a $35 ticket, we lose close to $7, and when you add in security requirements and user pay, it’s difficult.
“I think our prices are pretty reflective of the A-League in general but we made a mistake with our active support and have adjusted the prices accordingly.
“We stuffed up there but it’s been fixed. We’re a new club and you’ll get mistakes.
“We also only have 12,000 seats, that’s all we have, plus two hills which are subject to one person per square metre (at the moment) and that only allows 200 per hill. It’s all a bit of a nightmare.
“When people go off, I understand their frustration but we’re all in the same boat.
“We can’t be in a position where we’re going to lose $30-40,000 in hosting a game.
“The Wellington game, where we had a total of 3,700, we just about broke even.
“Under our voluntary (COVID-19) cap, our crowd limit is 4,000, so it’s not easy.
“We weren’t expecting all this when we signed up for the competition.”
Macarthur attracted in excess of 5,000 for their A-League debut against Central Coast before health restrictions were beefed up.