Nottingham Forest season ticket price hike latest and all we know about protest plans as anger grows

Nottingham Forest fans face season card price rises for 2024/25
Anger... Forest fans face step season card price rises for 2024/25 -Credit:PA

The fallout from Nottingham Forest’s season card announcement is showing little sign of letting up as the weekend approaches. The Reds have been on the receiving end of a fierce backlash since announcing season card price details for 2024/25 on Tuesday.

The news has almost overshadowed the build-up to Sunday’s huge clash with Everton, when Nuno Espirito Santo will be looking for three points to ease his side's relegation fears and inflict a huge blow on their Merseyside rivals. However, the price hikes have been a major talking point and a huge source of debate. Below, we take a look at the situation as it stands...

Price increases

On Tuesday, Forest announced season card prices for the 2024/25 campaign. Prices have increased by an average of 24 percent, with the most expensive costing £850 - compared to £660 for the most expensive adult season card this term.

The club say they have “simplified the pricing structure” by splitting the City Ground into four pricing zones and into four pricing bands. They also point out theirs remain among “the most affordable” season cards in the Premier League.

READ MORE: Forest stance on potential season ticket rethink revealed

READ MORE: Forest face Mull of Kintyre threat at Man City match

Chairman Tom Cartledge has said: “We aspire to keep our Season Cards amongst the most affordable in the League. At the same time, it is imperative that the club continues to grow financially in order to remain competitive, particularly in light of the forthcoming squad cost ratio rules, which will cap spending as a percentage of club revenues.”

Some fans have seen a reduction in the cost of their season card, but many have seen huge increases. The reconfiguration of the age bands has also had a significant impact for many.

For example, the youth category is now categorised as age 14-17, with 18 and above classed as adults. Last season, those aged between 12 and 19 were classed as ‘youths’.

Fans have until May 10 to renew their season cards. That deadline comes at a point when Nuno Espirito Santo’s side will still have two games to play and their Premier League status could still be in the balance.

Forest made no mention of the threat of relegation in their announcement. The prices will be the same whether the Reds are in the top-flight or the Championship.

Angry response

The club followed the season card announcement with one about plans to introduce sections of safe standing at the City Ground. That was accused of being a “deflection strategy” amid the flak Forest were receiving.

Likewise, late-night social media posts from the Reds’ official account angered many fans. Forest pointed out they had broken their season card renewals record in “just seven hours” with renewals said to be up 50 percent compared to the same point last year. They also wrote: “Now over 11,000 fans signed up to our Official Season Card Waiting List since launch. An incredible demonstration of the huge demand to follow Forest. Thank you.”

Intentional or not, those posts could be viewed as pitting supporters against each other. The club were accused of being “tone-deaf”, with many of the replies instructing them to “read the room”.

Supporters’ Trust statement

A statement from the Nottingham Forest Supporters’ Trust (NFST) said: “NFST notes the announcement by the club of very substantial price increases in season card prices for all sections of the City Ground. We bitterly regret both the scale of these increases and the fact that the fan groups making up the new Fan Advisory Board (FAB) have not been properly consulted in advance.”

The Trust’s statement added: “The Trust conducted an extensive exercise to gather opinion from members and other fans about potential price rises. These views were submitted to the club at the most recent FAB meeting with the overwhelming consensus being only modest increases in line with inflation would be acceptable. The average price increases actually imposed are totally disproportionate to the current inflation rate.

“It is accepted that season card pricing at Forest had been at the lower end of that at other Premier League clubs, however such extreme increases over a single season, during the ongoing cost of living crisis, will massively impact a large number of loyal fans and undoubtedly mean that many will now be priced out of renewing – a concern shared with the Trust by many supporters. There is little consistency to the percentage increases for different sections of the ground with no apparent logic or rationale explained for this seemingly arbitrary decision.

“The significant restriction of youth pricing concessions will impose massive increases on that section of our support who should be being nurtured as the future fanbase of our club. We are concerned that the change for senior concessions from age 65 to 66 could herald future further restrictions, potentially pricing out a group of long standing loyal fans.

“There is no provision for reduced price increases should the club suffer relegation to the Championship. The club have stated that the intention is to keep the season card pricing amongst the most affordable in the league, this claimed ambition would not be met in the Championship, quite the opposite.

“The club’s justification for these rises as preparation for the new sustainability rules based around Squad Cost Ratio (scheduled for the 2025/26 season) is noted, but the relatively modest impact of this single rise (calculated at being in the region of £2m) gives rise to concern that more rises on this scale might be imposed in the future.

“We strongly disapprove of the implication of the message that over 10,000 fans are waiting in the wings to buy season cards, this is likely to cause anger and offence to those who now can’t afford to renew. The timing of what would in normal circumstances be the very welcome announcement of the introduction of safe-standing is being interpreted as an attempt at a deflection strategy by many supporters.

“NFST strongly opposes these price increases which will have a negative impact on all match-going fans. We believe that our fans’ incredible support has been a key factor in the remarkable success over recent seasons. This is no way to reward that contribution.”

Forza Garibaldi stance

Supporters’ group Forza Garibaldi have said they will cancel plans for a pre-match display at the Reds’ next home game, against Manchester City, out of protest at season card prices. They have said they feel compelled to “take a stand”.

In a statement, they said: “To our fellow fans, we are aware that statements and social media disaffection may not be enough to make our frustration clear to the club. The intention here is not just to complain but also take action if necessary.

“As a starting point we are withdrawing plans for flags/banners/displays for the Manchester City game. While this is far from ideal timing, we feel we have no choice but to take a stand.

“We understand that this may disappoint some of you and also the team who need our support, but it is important to us as a group that we are not allowing this decision by the club to go without action. While we realise such a step may ultimately be futile, we feel it is appropriate to demonstrate our frustration at this time and will highlight how vital supporters are to the club. We remain eager to maintain these visual displays but only at a point when the club are willing to listen and acknowledge these real concerns from supporters.”

Forza also called for the club to instigate “an emergency meeting” of the Fan Advisory Board to discuss the season card pricing and how supporter engagement has not been “adequately considered”. They also appealed to the club for an “immediate review” of the pricing model and the possibility of a change to the prices should the Reds be relegated, accompanied by an extension of the renewal deadline beyond the end of the season. Additionally, Forza say “adversarial communications” for the club are “stoking already heightened tension”.

Their statement added: “That we understand final say on pricing sits with the ownership also means we should consider who it is that is driving these decisions. While it is right that we address our concerns with the club as a whole it is perhaps our owners who need to be responsible for justifying their decision making. We expect far better from a club that has spoken only very recently about how it prides itself on helping its community.”

Forza had a representative in attendance at last month’s second FAB meeting, when potential price increases were discussed but no specifics were put forward. The Supporters’ Trust also made clear their concern at the lack of consultation over the season card costs.

Forza added: “In the most recent (FAB) meeting, price increases were discussed with fan representatives and it was made clear that any significant uplifts would be opposed, but no actual price data was shared by the club. We believe this is a failing on the club’s part to adequately consult with supporters as we had understood they would.

“We will not sit on a board that is used for token consultancy only on major issues. On Wednesday morning, the FAB Chair has written to the club voicing these collective concerns.”

What next?

It is understood that as things stand there is little chance of Forest revising the prices. Supporters, though, will continue to make their voices heard in the hope the situation does change.

Some fans have suggested boycotting Mull of Kintyre against Manchester City. Others have put forward the idea of not spending money at the stadium as a way to protest.

An email from the FAB has been sent to Reds chairman Cartledge. Punjabi Forest, who have a representative on the FAB, posted on X: “As FAB representatives, a collective email has been sent to Chairman Tom Cartledge questioning why we weren't allowed the opportunity to send feedback on the renewal season ticket prices as agreed in the last FAB meeting.”

What do you make of the season card prices? Have your say in the comments below