Stevenage chairman Phil Wallace has spoken about the proposed new charges targeted at the Club's fans on match days.
He said, "The week leading up to a new season is usually one of untold optimism and hope for the future. Our week has been overshadowed by the financial targeting of our loyal supporters and staff by Stevenage Borough Council’s news of a levy on football fans. Whilst I totally appreciate the Council’s financial difficulties and have for some time, I do not believe measures should be taken that could well be the beginning of the end of the town's football club. I do not believe this statement to be an exaggeration, as we know from our own surveys that lack of funds is the number one reason people do not attend our games, so to increase charges for those that do come is very likely to be a financial knife into the heart of the Club’s future. I cannot begin to describe the feeling of disappointment from everyone associated with the Club.
"I’m told that the proposal was suggested to our Operations Manager last year and we registered our strong protests on behalf of our supporters and staff at that time, since when we have heard nothing more.
"Personally I have found the Council supportive in the past - they always wanted a Football League club to promote the town and they supported the Club with enthusiasm years ago to achieve the status we have now. So to attempt to now turn the screw on the fans that the Club depends upon for its very existence doesn’t seemed logical, since any downturn in attendance would almost certainly tip the fragile financial balance that exists between continuing as a professional football club and bankruptcy.
"I sincerely hope that common sense prevails and I’m delighted to hear that the signs will be removed this week. That is a major first step and I thank the Council for acting so swiftly to prevent a major issue developing. We will always support consultation over anything to do with our future – we have a fanbase, even if they can’t all afford to attend games - of over 23,000 fans on our databases. We would be delighted to undertake a consultation with fans that use our facilities which, after all, are owned by the Council but I think the outcome is obvious. The Club’s directors thought long and hard about decreasing season ticket prices this year, but we knew we had to continue to do everything possible to reduce the cost of watching a game at Stevenage FC so that we could encourage a new generation of fans to support us.
"My sincere wish is that we can enter a period of consultation with the Council and then abandon this proposal, as the Club simply cannot afford any downturn in attendances. That would almost certainly drive the club back down the pyramid to Non League level and I wouldn’t have thought that was an outcome anyone would want. I therefore look forward to meeting the appropriate members of Stevenage Borough Council as soon as possible."