Man City fan group hits out at ticket price rise just weeks after Guardiola's atmosphere plea

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The Catalan has asked his bosses at the Etihad Stadium to improve the atmosphere and attendance, but season ticket prices have now been raised

The leading Manchester City supporters' group has hit out at the club for raising season ticket prices for the 2017-18 campaign.

Goal revealed in April that Pep Guardiola has instructed the City hierarchy to find a way to improve the atmosphere at the Etihad Stadium.

Guardiola wants better Etihad atmosphere

Guardiola believes a full and noisy crowd will help forge a winning mentality in his squad and has asked CEO Ferran Soriano to speak to fans and come up with initiatives.

The 1894 Group are part of that consultation process and have already suggested several measures, including safe standing. 

As a result of those early meetings the club have already decided to instruct the City captain to kick towards the south stand, where a singing section has been set up, for the second half of games.

But it emerged on Tuesday that City have implemented an average price rise of two per cent for next season, with some seats going up by as little as £5.

The 1894 Group has put out a statement in response, insisting Guardiola's desire to improve the atmosphere is doomed to failure while the club's decision makers continue to put up prices.

The group believes the rises will force out long-term supporters and attract new fans who pay for season tickets but do not turn up to matches, leading to a number of empty seats at the Etihad.

"Before the takeover, if our ground was a 47,000 sell out then every seat would be taken on a match day," the statement reads. "You wonder if the fans dropping away are being replaced by people who just want the status of having a season ticket and they are simply picking and choosing which games to attend.

"We have Pep asking people in the club what they can do about the atmosphere. But our message is you can't have it both ways. You either make it all about the money, or you try to ensure we have a partisan atmosphere at home games. That could mean the difference between finishing fourth and first and the club make even more through prize money than they ever would from stealth rises."

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Despite the 2% rise in many areas of the stadium, City have frozen the price of their cheapest seats, which at £299 are available to 2000 fans in the south stand and are cheaper than the lowest-priced tickets at 16 other Premier League clubs.

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The club have also reintroduced a 'Value Gold' scheme, where supporters with no preference as to where they sit can pay £299 for the opportunity to be given a seat anywhere in the stadium, potentially in more expensive areas.

But the 1894 Group insist that is nothing but a "publicity stunt" and that all prices should have been frozen given the huge revenue increase at City and other Premier League clubs as a result of the mammoth television broadcast deal which came into effect last summer.

"The price freeze for the £299 tickets applies to a handful of seats, so that's a PR stunt because so few people actually benefit from it. If they can freeze some prices surely they can freeze all.

"Stealth rises are still rises and we know there will be many fans who decide it's one rise too many and will jack it in. Of course there are some fans who feel the rises are acceptable and others will renew even though they have told us they feel a price freeze would have been fair.

"Every year it goes more and more corporate at our place. The rising prices cannot be justified given the TV deals and the silly amount of money that is now in the game at the top level. The benefits of that are not being passed down to the fans."

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