Cost of living crisis has already hit us - Wigan Athletic chief
Mal Brannigan admits the cost of living crisis has already begun to affect Wigan Athletic.
Speaking exclusively to Wigan Today, on a wide-ranging area of subjects, the Latics CEO says the club have begun to look at ways of helping supporters - while trying to protect their own financial situation.
However, one thing that will NOT entail is bringing forward kick-off times to avoid using floodlights at the DW Stadium.
"I think the cost of living crisis started having an impact on football a few months ago," Brannigan said.
"Potentially you saw what was happening in the world and what was happening in the economy.
"For the first time in a long time, we went early with season tickets, we didn't wait until the end of the season, like the club had done previously.
"With hindsight, it looks as though it was a fairly well-planned decision but in reality, and as mentioned in previous interviews, the club had always intended to introduce the installment plan and reflecting on the overall increase in season ticket holders, it looks as though it was a decision that the supporters responded well to.
"There are always situations that will catch the club off-guard, but no-one could have foreseen what would happen with Ukraine, with the energy crisis, with the inflation rate increases, and politically the changes at No.10.
"You just had a feeling that things were going to get a little bit tighter, and it's starting to impact us a little bit now.
"Even if it's not showing up in attendances, it's showing up in disposable income, with people's ability to go on to the concourse and buy a pie and a drink, or if they want to purchase some merchandise in the shop.
"People - and us as a club - are extremely conscious of what might be happening over the next few months, and I don't think anyone can predict how long this might go on for.
"We have an incredibly supportive and loyal fanbase, but that only goes so far, you can only stretch that goodwill so far.
"And we have to be very mindful of how we can try to hopefully address and ease some of those pressures.
"Some of those pressures are on us as a business as well, and there's been talk of bringing games forward to 1pm kick-offs, and possibly reducing the price of match tickets.
"I think they're all very positive when they're looked at on an individual basis.
"But when looked at collectively, we need to bear in mind the impact they will have on attendances, and what it does to everybody's routine on a Saturday, then there is a different outcome.
"Football, historically, has always been played at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon, and you need to be aware that you are changing people's routine, albeit temporarily.
"Because I think the one thing most people would want in times of turmoil going on elsewhere, is some kind of routine they can rely on.
"Conditions can always change, but for us, at the moment, we will leave it at 3pm on Saturday afternoon, unless TV dictates otherwise.
"And we will try and see what we can do in terms of helping out in the community in other ways."
A number of other EFL clubs have already signalled their intention of looking into bringing forward their fixtures on a Saturday.
Brannigan, though, is not convinced those sums add up – and doesn’t believe the authorities will ever make it a blanket policy.
It’s understood there was little appetite at a recent meeting of EFL clubs to bring it in across the board.
The door remains open for clubs to move games if agreed, but there are not expected to be many requests outside of the World Cup.
"It could possibly be worked out between two clubs playing on any particular day,” said Brannigan.
"Mansfield, I believe, were the first club that came out and said they were going to play at 1pm on a Saturday.
"There are other clubs who have also made those sorts of noises, but I just can't see it being the case across the whole landscape.
"It was discussed last week among all the clubs in the Championship, and I'm sure that will be the case in other leagues as well.
"I just don't think there's a requirement or an appetite to do it across the board.
"I do think some individual clubs will choose to discuss the situation with each other, to see if it makes sense on any given matchday.
"But then you have to look at re-organising the routine of a visiting club and the impact it has on its players and fans, the contracts that have already been signed with hotels and bus companies and you realise the complexity of trying to find a good solution.
"As an example, if you make it an early kick-off, it might be that a club who would ordinarily have travelled over on the day, might now have to stay over the night before, which negates any savings on floodlights.”
Brannigan also says reducing ticket prices at the DW may also create more problems than it would solve.
"Equally I don't think reducing the ticket prices would make much sense,” he added.
"The majority of our fans, week in and week out, are season ticket holders.
"They committed to supporting us that way very early, and I think if we started managing the ticket prices going forward, we are not respecting their support.
"There are no firm answers for anything at the moment.
"But certainly, if we can do anything to help supporters - not necessarily when they're at the game but when they're in the community - we'd be open to all suggestions.”