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English clubs under fire for exorbitant mascot fees

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'Raheem Sterling, the new face of Gillette, appears in an advert highlighting discrimination which features him walking out of a tunnel hand-in-hand with a young mascot.' Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

'Raheem Sterling, the new face of Gillette, appears in an advert highlighting discrimination which features him walking out of a tunnel hand-in-hand with a young mascot.' Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

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'Raheem Sterling, the new face of Gillette, appears in an advert highlighting discrimination which features him walking out of a tunnel hand-in-hand with a young mascot.' Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

English Premier League and Championship clubs are neglecting low-income families by charging up to £700 (€828) for children to be mascots at games, according to MPs and fans groups.

West Ham, Nottingham Forest, Norwich and Aston Villa all advertise rates up to £500 (€592) and beyond for their biggest matches despite complaints from supporters.

Julian Knight, the new chairman of parliament's powerful Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, is now pressuring elite clubs to slash charges to help deprived families.

Being a mascot, he said, is becoming "the preserve of the well off, completely against the working-class roots of the game".

His comments come as Raheem Sterling, the new face of Gillette, appears in an advert highlighting discrimination which features him walking out of a tunnel hand-in-hand with a young mascot. His club, Manchester City, are among seven top-tier clubs now offering places for free and Knight says he cannot understand why all teams are not following suit.

Profiting

Research estimates the Premier League clubs who still charge are profiting by around £500,000 (€592,000) combined per season, allowing for places that are given away for free. Teams regularly have an allocation these days of a mascot accompanying almost every starting player.

West Ham, consistently criticised over their £700 price tag for category A matches, have responded in part by making three mascot packages at each game free next season through a ballot for young season ticket holders and members.

Malcolm Clarke, chair of the Football Supporters' Association, expressed astonishment that mascot prices were now often bigger than season tickets for youngsters.

"While many clubs donate the fees to their charitable arms, it seems a little ironic that those charities are often tasked with working in local, deprived communities - the very communities which mascot fees will price out," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk