St Johnstone chairman Steve Brown says he understands fan anger over ticketing for his side’s Scottish Cup tie against Rangers and will learn lessons from the club’s handling of the match.
The Perth club are set to see the smallest home support in their modern history on Saturday after furious supporters took the decision to stay away in protest against the seating allocation and pricing.
St Johnstone have decided to give three stands at McDiarmid Park to Rangers fans, with the club’s home faithful housed in the Main Stand and some season ticket holders asked to move seats. Tickets have been priced at £30 for adults and £20 for concessions.
Supporter unhappiness has been evident in slow ticket sales, with The Courier reporting that under 300 tickets had been sold to St Johnstone fans by Monday.
Members of Fair City Unity, a prominent supporters’ group, protested during the match against Dundee United earlier this month, brandishing a banner that read ‘Against modern football’.
In a statement, the group said: “As a group, we are disappointed in the £30/£20 ticket pricing structure and direct blame at both St Johnstone Football Club and Rangers Football Club, who had an opportunity to make the match affordable for all fans, particularly due to the current cost-of-living crisis and also to compensate for the unwanted (5.30pm) kick-off time and TV coverage.
“The group will continue to fight for fair and affordable ticket pricing structures at all St Johnstone matches in order to make football affordable for all fans.”
The club has now responded to complaints, saying that it would take on board what had been said.
In an open letter on the St Johnstone website, chairman Steve Brown said that the decisions had been taken with good intention but that he understood the reasons behind supporter dismay.
He wrote: “The seating arrangements and pricing for the forthcoming Scottish Cup tie against Rangers has been met with a huge amount of negativity and hostility from a number of our valued fans.
“The club has endeavoured to respond to the various communications sent to the club both by way of email and telephone over the last fortnight, and the club is aware of the views of various sections of fans both from social media activity and press reports.
“The decisions made in respect of this cup tie were taken with the best interests of the club at heart.
“However, we totally understand the frustration our supporters feel and their level of disappointment.
“On reflection, the club accepts that certain criticisms levelled against the decisions have merit and going forward the club will take this feedback into account in considering both pricing and seating arrangements in future fixtures. Our supporters can be absolutely assured of this.
“Whilst we hope to see as many of our supporters as possible inside McDiarmid Park on Saturday to support Callum and the players in this important cup tie against Rangers, we understand and respect our supporters who choose not to attend on this occasion.”