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Reading lead the way in Championship away prices - but EFL being left behind

Since 2016 Reading FC have backed Twenty’s Plenty by offering away fans visiting the Madejski Stadium £20 tickets – and are challenging other clubs to follow suit.

The Berkshire club have been running the initiative for four seasons and say that the change has been revenue neutral, with losses from the higher ticket price off-set by healthier attendances and concessions sales.

Head of operations at the club Jackie Evans said: “We continue to stand by this price cap principle in the Championship and promote it across the EFL; our ‘Twenty’s Plenty’ pricing strategy demonstrates that Reading Football Club are listening to its supporters and football fans across the country.

“It is a structure which visiting supporters admire and one we hope more clubs consider and adopt.”

Progress on reducing away ticket costs in the Championship, League One and League Two has been slow, and too many clubs are still charging some eye-watering prices. Cardiff City fans heading to Elland Road this month will be paying £39 for the privilege.

This all adds up to the EFL being left behind by leagues across Europe – with France’s Ligue Un and the Netherland’s Eredivisie introducing away ticket caps, prices in the Championship are being painted in an increasingly poor light – among the highest in Europe.

Research compiled last season showed the average cost of an away ticket in the Championship was £27.04 – with Leeds United the worst offenders with an average away ticket price of £37.82.

Despite the glaring gap in away prices across Europe, there has been some progress in the EFL in recent seasons.

Previously Coventry City capped ticket prices at £20 and Swansea City’s away scheme continues to be subsidised. The Welsh club ensuring its fans don’t pay more than £22 on the road.

Back in the 2017-18 season, Ipswich Town started an initiative to reach reciprocal deals, at £24, for away fans with other clubs across the Championship. Their efforts yielded positive results, managing to reach agreements with 12 other teams, but the usual suspects remained unmoved.

These are highlights, but cultural change in the EFL remains slow. The EFL has said it won’t consider introducing competition-wide price caps into its rules anytime soon, so it looks like it remains up to supporters to pressure clubs into action.

The Ipswich case has shown that clubs respond when their supporters ask them to act on their behalf and we’d certainly be happy to support any fans who want to lobby their club.

And asking them to match Reading’s £20 offer is an excellent starting point, after all reciprocal deals became widespread in the Premier League before the introduction of the £30 cap. So if you want to save money on the road, get in touch.

Until then it’s the Berkshire club who stand alone on the £20 cap.

“When we launched this price cap commitment for visiting supporters, we encouraged other clubs to follow our lead,” Jackie said. “And some did, allowing Royals fans to also benefit from reasonable ticket pricing when they journey up and down the country.

“We hope ‘Twenty’s Plenty’ and a pioneering matchday ticket pricing policy takes one step in the right direction.”

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