Scottish Rugby defends Six Nations ticket pricing hike

Purchasers must pay £34 to join the 'Nevis' membership scheme in order to enter a ticket ballot and there are no concessions for under-18s

Scottish Rugby hope to welcome some sort of crowds to Murrayfield during the 2021 Six Nations. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Scottish Rugby hope to welcome some sort of crowds to Murrayfield during the 2021 Six Nations. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

SCOTTISH RUGBY is facing a backlash from supporters and member clubs over their handling of ticket sales for any Six Nations matches which go ahead this season with crowds permitted.

Prices for the 2021 Championship were unveiled yesterday [Tuesday] showing a significant increase from previous years, with potential buyers also having to sign up for the new ‘Nevis’ membership scheme at a cost of £34 in order to enter a ballot to have the chance to make a purchase.

It is far from guaranteed that any sort of crowds will be possible during the Six Nations, and if they are it is likely that social distancing requirements will limit the number permitted to around a quarter of the 67,000-seater stadium.


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Scotland have three home games in the upcoming Six Nations, with tickets for each match now split into two bands. The cheaper ‘Category 2’ band (around one-third of the stadium) will cost £55 for the Italy match, and £70 for the Ireland and Wales matches, plus Nevis membership. The more expensive ‘Category 1’ band (two-thirds of the stadium) will cost £90 for the Italy game, and £105 for Ireland and Wales, plus Nevis membership. There is no concession for under-18s.

That means that a single adult looking to take two children to either of the Ireland or Wales games will be looking at an outlay of £245 or £350.

When tickets initially went on sale for 2020-21, the cheapest option was the ‘Bronze’ season-pass scheme, which cost £237 for the six scheduled matches at Murrayfield, working out at £39.50 per game. The Under-18s package cost £142, which equated to just under £24 per match.

While it is widely acknowledged and accepted that Scottish Rugby will have to make some hard-nosed decisions when facing down a significant financial squeeze due to the Covid pandemic, there is unhappiness that this move will disproportionately impact younger and less well-off rugby supporters.

It has also left a bitter taste in some fans’ mouth that they were encouraged to buy ‘Nevis’ subscriptions before learning of the price hike.

 

The ‘Nevis’ scheme in itself has been controversial amongst clubs who feel that it is encroaching onto their own rights – as enshrined in the SRU bye-laws – to collect commission for selling tickets directly to their membership at a time when they are also facing significant financial challenges.

SRU President Ian Barr and Vice-President Colin Rigby met via zoom with Scottish Rugby’s Chief Operating Officer, Dominic McKay, two weeks ago to seek clarity on this issue, and it has since been confirmed that 10 percent of stadium capacity will be made available to clubs. This has been identified as the percentage of tickets taken up by clubs during regular times.

That means that if the Six Nations does go ahead in February and March, and a limited crowd of say 10,000 is permitted, then the clubs will get access to 1,000 tickets in total, which averages out at less than four tickets to each full and associate member club. The ‘Nevis’ membership scheme offers four tickets to any individual who is successful in the ballot.

Offering access to international tickets is a key marketing tool for many clubs in attracting and retaining members, and the commission on sales can be a valuable revenue generator. The right to sell tickets is also seen by many as a recognition of the importance of the grassroots in nurturing and sustaining the game in Scotland.

The Murrayfield debentures programme has also been suspended for season 2020-21.

A spokesperson said that Scottish Rugby is aware of some blowback on social media to the new pricing strategy but insisted that direct feedback to Murrayfield has been overwhelmingly positive with over 10,000 ‘Nevis’ memberships already sold and fans entering the ballots for the Six Nations matches in significant numbers already.

He stressed that the membership scheme was launched to serve several purposes: including as an organisational tool to co-ordinate crowds through a ballot at such time as they are allowed, and as a revenue generator for people to show their support of, and engage with, Scottish Rugby at a time of significant financial upheaval.

“Scottish Rugby has a proud tradition of affordable pricing which contributed to a record 15 sell-outs of BT Murrayfield in recent seasons,” he added. “We have every intention of returning to our full range of ticket options for fans in the coming seasons once crowds can return in greater numbers.”


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About David Barnes 3041 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

18 Comments

  1. The clubs will be the big losers here and one day soon they will have to make a stand. These are obviously hard times but there will a certain number of supporters who are paying a club fee partly to have access to the internationa ticket ballot. 10% of 61,700 tickets spread across clubs is pathetic. That means 90% is going to a huge swathe of “fans” with no grass roots connections. And the complacent SRU statement that there have been 15 sell-outs in recent years offers no recognition of the times we now live in.

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  2. I have spoken to my club’s ticket “guy” and he reckons we’ll be getting nowhere near as many tickets this year.

    It would be nice if the SRU could confirm as much. Perhaps someone with sufficient clout could ask a straight question on Twitter? I’m just a fan so they won’t speak to me.

  3. For an organisation that trumpeted its great leadership, communications and influencing capabilities it’s really being exposed.

    The old adage of when in a hole stop digging doesn’t seem to be known at Murrayfield.

    Just as well the country isn’t facing economic issues that may make purchasing £105 tickets prohibitive for many. Not to worry fans can watch it on tv….oh dear

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  4. No surprise at all that the SRU treat the general public with contempt and no surprise about the increases. They have to raise enough money to pay Dodson’s ludicrous salary somehow so what better way than to pretend to the supporters that they are helping to save Scottish rugby? There are always some who will believe it!

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  5. “Murrayfield Debenture Holders are entitled to apply for tickets for their designated seat for each International match played at BT Murrayfield in the Six Nations Series. For other games, where Scottish Rugby maintain direct control over ticket allocations (e.g. Autumn Tests) Murrayfield Debenture Holders will be able to apply for a ticket within a time limit detailed at the time.

    Irredeemable Debenture Holders are entitled to purchase two tickets per Debenture for each International match played at BT Murrayfield. These will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis in the West Stand. (Platinum and Gold seats are located within this area.) As tickets are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, if you choose Platinum seats and they are already sold out at the time of booking, you will be allocated the best available in Gold and informed of this change.”

    • Nevis=online begging bowl. FB fans are in denial saying they do it for the SRU. But what if you’re not near Edinburgh or have a middle class bank account that can afford private fees?

  6. What grieves me in particular about the SRU is the appalling communication. Why they don’t just come out and say something like “it’s a one-off coz we’re skint due to coronavirus” I don’t know. People might find it easier to digest. As it is, they just succeed in alienating their supporters further.

    We could do with the world rugby fine money for Hagibis-gate now. Will Dodson be stumping up?

    Will he heck. He’ll probably blame it on the comms team who in turn will just suck it up, as they know that they couldn’t get as lucrative a gig elsewhere, so poor are they.

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    • Jonty
      Agree. Of course there is merit in trying to maximise income in times of financial trouble.
      Only trouble is that this lot won’t own up to being in trouble. We have still to see the long overdue accounts of last year, which will be trying hard to disguise WC19, and we are still pursuing a no redundancy policy despite activity levels in many areas being greatly reduced.

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    • I agree. I said as much in a reply to SRU when they chased me to ask why I hadn’t taken out a Nevis. I did eventually do a Nevis, but now wish I hadn’t. Disingenuous is the word that applies best to SRU right now.

  7. I was amazed to find out that only 10% of tickets will go to the Clubs, is that the normal allocation in a ‘normal’ season? Frankly I really find that hard to believe that that is the normal allocation to the clubs.
    As for the ‘A spokesperson said that Scottish Rugby is aware of blowback on social media’: blowback! The marketing suits finding words that attempt to disguise discontent or anger or disgust and as usual it will be the Wuhan lurgy that gets the blame for the hike in prices, never the lack of management: no if it wasn’t for that pesky Wuhan we would have been quids in, no debt, and large Gin and Tonics all round.
    As an aside, has anybody seen the accounts yet?

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  8. comes with the territory of a global pandemic. i would be totally astonished if prices didnt go up, like it or not its a business that needs to regather revenue.
    i took out a nevis membership for no other reason than to support scottish rugby as did a large amount of people i know, and to be fair after months of sat on the couch with a cup of tea watching games, would pay alot more to be there with a beer.

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