Clapton’s chief executive Vince McBean explains recent decisions
PUBLISHED: 16:00 24 November 2016
Tons captain Jerry Jairette believes decision to increase ticket price is harsh on Ultras
The Clapton Ultras have threatened to boycott home games after Tons chief executive Vince McBean hiked the cost of tickets to seven pounds for adults and introduced bag searches on the turnstiles.
The £1 price rise was too much for many loyal fans who walked away before kick off complaining they had been priced out of their adopted home by McBean’s ‘greed’. Those remaining staged a silent protest during Tuesday night’s Essex Senior League game against Sporting Bengal United.
However, Clapton’s chief executive hit back claiming that the Ultras have brought the price rises upon themselves with reckless behaviour that has led the club to be fined by the authorities.
McBean said: “The (security) people haven’t always been here. But because we are having flares and flags on the pitch we have had to put them back. We are meant to have them here every match and stewards as well.
“If you have so many people here, how are you meant to control them if anything happens. You need stewards here. If you have people bringing in drinks and all the rest of it, that is contravening the rules. They are bringing in pyrotechnics, letting them off, that is contravening the rules as well.”
He continued: “The club is ending up getting fined. They let off flares and stuff the last time and the only time this hasn’t happened is when we have had SIA badge people on the gates and they were searched and they were told you can’t bring it in. So that’s where we are.”
Clubs can be fined up to £250 for failing to control supporters with the Essex League Committee allowed to double the fine each time the offence is committed.
With these extra costs, McBean has felt that he had no other option but to raise the ticket prices. The chief executive, who has been involved with the Tons for well over a decade, also bemoaned the Ultras habit of putting up Clapton stickers in away teams toilets, saying the committee, who are made up of different club chairmen, took a dim view which was sometimes reflected in the fines.
Any attempts for Clapton to gain promotion rests upon the committee sanctioning the move up in league, and with the constant breaking of regulations by fans, McBean worries that the chances of Tons progression are being inhibited.
Yet much of the recent progression is down to the fans and their large and loyal support. Before the arrival of the Ultras, Clapton were a team floundering at the bottom of the ESL, but have now risen up in the past few seasons and are currently lying in fourth place this year.
With an unparalleled level of attendance, averaging 335 a match in the 2015/16 season, compared to their nearest rival Basildon United who averaged 94, it is clear that in terms of ticket sales, Clapton out-do their ESL counterparts.
Manager Jonny Fowell claimed the price raise was necessary in order for the club to push for promotion and “the extra pound means that we can hopefully afford to keep our better players.”
Clapton captain Jerry Jairette, who has been at the club for ten years, sympathised with the Ultras cause. He said: “It’s only a pound, but a pound is a lot when you count up three hundred fans.
“We are the only club in the league that is getting that kind of support. Personally I think it’s a bit harsh.” Recently we have been getting travel expenses which I am happy about.
“But, the majority of us play for the fans. I was here when we had no one trying out, now we have 40, 50 trialists every week. In the dressing room it’s not do this for Vince, it’s do this for the fans.”
Last season the club earned around £40,000 from home league games alone and more if cup runs are included meaning that they profited massively from their exuberant fan base.
Now the fans who provide the revenue and the chief executive who organises the club appear to be on a collision course and until each realises how much they need the other, Clapton’s football may be the casualty.