National League playoff final ticket prices prompt donations to help fans | Vanarama National League

Crowdfunding efforts have raised tens of thousands of pounds to support those travelling to Sunday’s National League playoff final, after widespread concern over the high price of tickets.

Grimsby will face Solihull Moors at the London Stadium, with the winner claiming a place in League Two. But the National League admitted it did not “always get things right” when fans were left facing prices of at least £40 plus booking fees for a seat.

On Thursday, the league sponsor, Vanarama, donated £20,000 to each club to help subsidise coach travel.

Grimsby’s Mariners Trust supporters’ group said fans – including those from Wrexham, the club they defeated in the semi-finals – had raised another £23,000 to help with buying tickets and travelling. Solihull said they would contribute £12 towards the cost of each concession ticket bought in their end. Concession tickets cost £20.

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Estimates from the Mariners Trust suggested a family of four would have to pay £304.95 to go to the match, after the lower-priced £40 tier of tickets sold out. The remaining seats cost £45. All tickets are subject to a £3 per ticket booking fee and there is a 99p digital delivery charge per order.

“How can it be when a family of four have … £304.95 to find in a week and that’s without any food or drink and all during a harsh cost of living crisis?” the trust said. “We’ve seen already, a number of fans despairing that they just cannot afford it, while others will use any means possible because not being there just isn’t an option to them after a previous season of no football at all.”

The Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling joined a chorus of online complaints as he said fans had been treated “shamefully”. The Soccer Saturday host and Hartlepool fan tweeted: “Don’t we want people to support their local teams? They already have to pay for travel from Solihull or Grimsby to East London. These fans are the bedrock of football and yet treated shamefully.”

Grimsby fans enjoy the semi-final win at Wrexham with John McAtee
Grimsby fans enjoy the semi-final win at Wrexham with John McAtee. Photograph: Bradley Collyer/PA

The National League said minimum prices were cheaper than last year’s final held at Ashton Gate in Bristol but that a search for a venue capable of hosting substantial crowds had meant a change in ticketing options. Last season’s tickets cost £41.00, plus a £1.25 transaction fee per ticket, with no concessionary rate available.

“At the National League the staff and management are acutely aware of the current financial challenges facing fans across the country and equally recognise that without the fans the game doesn’t exist,” the league said.

“We don’t always get everything right but we make every decision in the best interest of our clubs and the competition and we hope that fans will understand the challenge of balancing, securing a showpiece venue and the consequent costs involved with doing that.

“While we were able to keep the base price tickets lower than last season and that of under-16s, we do acknowledge that there is a premium on the higher ticket prices and that the lower-priced tickets sold out quickly.

“To be clear, he National League will not be taking any profits from Sunday’s final – 100% of the proceeds will go back to our member clubs.”

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