To me, going to Forest is just as much a social occasion as it is a game of football. For years, family and friends have met in the same pub on match day. It’s always been the same, a dizzy mix of banter, beer and football discussion. We then trudge to the ground and enjoy / suffer * (delete as applicable) the latest display from the Reds. We don’t make plans in advance, but just turn up knowing others will be there. Sadly there are not so many of us these days, where once there were as many as 20 we are now down to a small loyal core. I’d not really given much thought to why until recently…..
With the Early Bird Discount (round 1) deadline approaching, I sent reminders round to our group. Good news came back from all but one confirming that they were renewing and giving Forest “One final chance” next season. More concerning news came from my Niece, Evan. She is currently working part time to help fund a university course so money is tight. She had contacted the ticket office and been told that even though she is currently only 20 years old, that due to the timing of her birthday, she would have to pay full price. She is too old by 5 days. Not to worry she thought, I’ll enquire about the student offer. Forest no longer offer these deals on season tickets, their only offer is limited discounted match day tickets in another part of the ground. Who wants to sit on their own? Certainly not Evan? The step up from to a full adult ticket is a large one which has left Evan with a stark choice, renew or go on a Summer holiday. Not a choice I would have found easy as a 20 year old.
This lead me to thinking why many of my other family and friends have stopped attending. Most had dropped off when they had got to around 21, each had said they would attend on a match by match basis, but then dropped off. Granted some of this is down to the fact that we are less successful. The Paul Hart and Billy Davies play-off years in particular have been highlights for us all, but in the main it has been the pricing that has put people off. Once they elect to just attend some matches, the habit seems an easy one to break. This will no doubt be the case for those who elect to use match by match student offers.
With this thought in mind, I sent an email to a couple of people at the club who have helped in the past, I won’t name them to spare their blushes. One of them quickly replied and promised to speak to the ticket office. After a few days he came back full of apologies but saying nothing could be done and that Evan was just unfortunate. This didn’t seem fair so I asked who made decisions at Forest and could I have their email address. It turns out that day to day decisions at the club are made by a gentleman named Lalou Tifrit.
I wrote Lalou a very reasonable email asking him to consider the pricing policy and wondering whether it might be worth considering smaller increases over a number of years. I received a read receipt within an hour or so and sat back waiting for a response. Nothing. A week later I sent a very polite follow up, I noted that I’m sure he was very busy, but suggested I had made some good points and would he please reply. He again read the email on the same day. Again no response. Yesterday I became cross and sent a terse but measured email saying that a supporter of over 40 years should at least receive an acknowledgement and expressing my disappointment. Today I have received a polite email from Ben White, Media and Communications Manager, pointing me in the direction of the student match day tickets. I’ve written back suggesting that the scheme would mean Evan sitting alone, but I have yet to receive a reply.
Whenever I hear Fawaz speak or Tweet, it’s clear to me that he has a real passion for the club. I sat near him at the recent MK Dons match and it was very obvious how engrossed he is in the match. I honestly don’t believe he realises what day to day decisions are being made and that decent long-time supporters views are being routinely ignored. I’ll be tweeting this link to Fawaz, you never know he may read it and start to consider the lost generation of fans deserting our once proud club. Our average attendance is mocked by the Sheep, does anyone stop to question the reasons?
As for Evan, she is going to have to decide which to pick. I hope it’s another season, if not I fear we won’t be seeing much of her at the City Ground again.