Jose Mourinho’s complaints about the lack of atmosphere at Stamford Bridge are a consequence of younger fans being priced out, according to a Chelsea fans’ representative.
The Portuguese said it had been like “playing in an empty stadium” in the Barclays Premier League game against QPR on Saturday and believed the tepid atmosphere has contributed to the way his players are approaching home games.
Chelsea Supporters’ Trust chair Tim Rolls was sure Mourinho’s intention in speaking out was to spark a loud response from fans at the next home game against West Brom on November 22, but argued that the demographic of the crowd is the biggest issue his club, and others, need to address.
“We’ve got a situation at Chelsea and at other grounds where the atmosphere probably isn’t as good as it used to be,” Rolls told Press Association Sport.
“But there are clear reasons for that around the age of the supporter base. It’s £50-plus to go, and young people – who are the most likely to sing and make noise – have been priced out of the game.
“Until the clubs recognise that and do something about affordable pricing for young people and creating sections of the ground where they can sing and make some noise then the situation is unlikely to improve.”
The cheapest general sale adult tickets for the QPR game were £46, going up to a top price of £75, with the cheapest generale sale tickets for juniors (under-18s) priced at £18, although these discounted junior tickets are only available in certain sections of the stadium.
Rolls added: “I t would be good to have a 16-25 section with reduced prices where people are actively encouraged to sing. The only way (to improve the atmosphere) is to have a dedicated section and have it cheaper.
“It’s unrealistic to expect eighteen, nineteen-year-old kids on the minimum wage to come to Stamford Bridge or any other Premier League ground – this isn’t just an issue at Chelsea, it’s an issue across the board.
“(Mourinho) is very calculating – he didn’t just say it off the cuff I’m sure. He’s doing a fantastic job in terms of where we are and the season we’re having, but it’s difficult with the demographic we have to get people to show the same vocal passion than if you had a lot more people in their teens and in their early to mid-20s (attending matches).”
Rolls also felt the introduction of safe standing might have a positive impact.
“We did a survey of our members, 96 per cent thought that, if possible, safe standing should be introduced to Stamford Bridge but it’s a wider issue than just Chelsea, it’s not going to happen overnight,” he said.
A spokesman for Chelsea was not immediately available for comment.