A little while ago, Reading FC duo Adam Benson (Commercial Director) and Mark Bradley (Head of Communications) kindly sat down with us for a very special podcast installment.
Below, we've picked out some highlights and put them into a transcript.
On cheaper tickets for 18-24s
"Opinions on the £10 ticket – all in favour of it, because it was myself (Adam Benson) and the ticketing team that came up with it.
We’re constantly looking at gaps here and how we can bring more people through the doors.
The old age groups used to be 17-21. It’s been a kind of shift now, people stay on in education longer, people have less disposable income, particularly that particular age group.
They go off to university, sometimes take a gap year, so actually people are coming out of university later, so that 18-24 age group seemed like a real good target group for us.
Also, you can see it on a match day, that kind of age group is about atmosphere, so we wanted to engage with them, we wanted to find ways of bringing them through the doors.
So we took the decision to change it, bring the price down.
I think this season 22 out of the 24 Championship clubs now have an 18-24 age bracket, so we’ve taken the lead on it and people have copied us, which is really good to see.
"It's not just about pricing"
"In terms of extending it (the £10 ticket) out to older age groups, we’ve got very good pricing here, we introduced a £20 ticket in the Eamonn Dolan stand, we’ve backed Twenty’s Plenty.
It’s not just about ticket pricing that brings people through the doors. We’ve given a greater range on our season tickets and on our match tickets.
Attendances are slightly down this year, as most people would have seen, so it’s not just about pricing. Form affects it, perception of the club, so there’s lots of factors that go into it."
On balancing high attendances against club finances
"We also have to be realistic about the commercials of the football club. It’s a very, very expensive business to be in, just running a stadium – stewarding, catering staff, all of those things have a cost to it, so there’s only so low that you can bring it.
I think we’re at a stage now where we do have very fair pricing, so extending it into the adult age range, I don’t know whether that would necessarily work but I still think that we offer some really good pricing for all age group now.
We have to balance off getting a good atmosphere and getting as many through the doors as possible versus the commercials of the football club.
It’s important for people to realise that we’re all football fans, we speak to a lot of football fans, we speak to a lot of supporters, we’re not detached from them, we understand the economic challenges they face, we really do.
We’ve tried to take a very balanced view of getting good ticket pricing without compromising too much the commercials of the football club."
The famous 2016/17 kit launch...
“It was a team effort. We’re a small team, and we’re always throwing around ideas. How can we do things differently? The reality is a football season’s cyclical, every year there’s a kit launch, every year there’s a season ticket launch, and it’s quite challenging sometimes to come up with different ways of bringing that to life.
So we sat down, we batted a few ideas around, and I think there was something a long time ago where somebody had taken Kingsley and sent Kingsley into space. We used that as the idea behind it. And you know, the clue’s in the title: kit launch.
We thought, what can we do differently, let’s launch it into space, and the feedback and the reaction to it was really really good.
...and where it landed
"It did come down, somewhere in Norwich, or Cambridge or somewhere.
We actually had to track it, so what happens is you’ll strap it to in effect a weather balloon and it goes up to a certain height, the weather balloon pops and then it floats down to earth ideally, and we had to track it because it was a kit that hadn’t been launched yet so if it fell anywhere and someone got their hands on it and started taking pictures of it it would have been slightly difficult."
The team photo in Forbury Gardens
"We could keep trying to do projects that engage our supporters and bring us closer to the town.
For example the team photo is looked after by our department and we took the team photo into town, and put it in front of the lion in Forbury Gardens.
That was purely to try and engage with the people in the town. It didn’t make our life easier, it’s much easier if we could just bring them to the stadium and get all the chairs laid out in our own time and get all the players in and I’m sure the players would have much preferred it.
But actually bringing them into town, they engaged really well with the people who came to watch, it made for a really good team photo and it’s just projects like that, something new, innovative ways that try to connect with as many people as possible, whatever the age group."
Who have the best players been to deal with?
"Naturally, there are the players that are a bit more amenable to doing media and doing press and things for the community, and some that are less, but, as I said earlier, I think we’ve been very blessed with the groups that we’ve had together in my time at the football club.
There’ve been such good people. Footballers get a bad rap a lot of the time, but we have good characters at our football club.
The current crop are great, don’t get me wrong, there are some really good guys.
George Evans, Chris Gunter, John Swift, Liam Moore, Ali Al-Habsi, he’s probably one of the nicest guys you could possibly meet, inside or outside of football, he’s just an unbelievably nice guy."
The New Stadium Announcer 'DJ Megaparty'
"Atmosphere here is one of the constant things that gets thrown at me by supporters, by the board, by the owners. What can we do to improve atmosphere here? If you keep doing the same things, you're gonna get the same results. We wanted to freshen things up, we wanted to take a bit of a different approach."
"DJ Megaparty is somebody I know from Masters Football. He does a lot of ice hockey, which is probably where that style comes from. We made the change because I wanted to freshen things up."
"When he first came in - hold our hands up - and he does too - that he made a few mistakes, and I think particularly in football if you get off on the wrong foot, it's very difficult to claw yourself back."
"He said things like 'The East Block', which he got derided for on social media. But what we've tried to do is take that feedback and give it to him and use it as a positive way to improve what he's doing."
"He's also somebody heavily involved in football now, he runs his own football club. He's definitely a marmite figure, but I think he's improved greatly to such an extent actually that he was here for, I think it was the West Brom cup game last year, and the FA were here, and they liked what he did so much they took him and used him for England.
So he can't be doing all that bad."
You can find the full edition of the podcast here.
Our thanks go to both men for giving up their time for the show and they're just as keen to hear from any fans who have issues they want to raise or suggestions to give the club, simply get in touch with the Customer Services department and you'll be forwarded on to the right place via email@example.com or by calling 0118 968 1211.