Wales

Swansea City charging mascots Premier League prices

Swansea City mascots in dug-out Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Swansea City charge up to £478 for a match-day mascot experience

Swansea City may play in football's second tier but they are charging parents Premier League prices for children to be mascots.

It costs up to £478 for a match-day mascot "package" at the Championship club, research by BBC Wales found.

Only three teams in the Premier League charge more, while the experience is free at most of the top clubs. Cardiff City charge £255.

Swansea City said prices were reduced this year following relegation.

Consumer groups have branded the higher prices as "outrageous".

For many youngsters, the chance to walk out onto the pitch with their football heroes is a dream come true.

Indeed many clubs tell parents the package is the "ultimate gift your child will never forget".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Many clubs sell the experience as "once in a lifetime"

Yet while many of the biggest clubs in the country, including Premier League champions Manchester City, do not charge for the opportunity, others are cashing in more than £700 per child.

West Ham United charges £700 for matches against the "top six" teams, less for other opponents. The club also has one free mascot per game.

Being a mascot for Everton costs £718 for two to three fixtures a year, which goes to charity, but is free for other matches.

Most packages include full kit, match tickets, photographs and autographs as well as walking onto the pitch before kick-off.

But a £185 package at Bournemouth does not come with a ticket to the game.

Martyn James, of consumer website Resolver, said: "It's absolutely outrageous that some richer kids can effectively buy their way to the top of the mascot list.

"When I was younger, being a mascot was a reward for super loyalty or for having been through a great deal.

"Charging any money for these packages is unacceptable - and it's pretty unknown too.

"It makes a mockery of all the things that our national game is supposed to represent."

Supporters on fan forums have slammed the prices as "unfair" and "scandalous".

Swansea City said the "truly once in a lifetime experience" includes four hospitality places, a meal and half-time penalty competition on the pitch.

A spokesman added: "We've reduced prices this year following relegation, from £450 plus VAT to £399 plus VAT for weekend, and £349 plus VAT for weekday matches.

"We also give one space free to charity every match and this was brought in this season."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Swansea City give one free mascot place to charities and good causes each game

Mascots at the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United are picked at random from their junior fan club and are free.

Cardiff City offer the chance for children aged between four and 10 to turn "dream into reality" for £255 and have sold out for many of their most popular home fixtures.

Claire Blake, of Penarth, arranged for her eight-year-old son Cian to be a mascot before the Bluebirds' game against champions Manchester City as a birthday gift in September.

"We were lucky to get such a big game but I'm not sure we would be happy paying the same amount for games against other teams," she said.

"Cian got a kit, signed photos and met Neil Warnock and had a great time, but the seats were poor and it was a bit rushed meeting the players."

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Cian Blake had "a great time" as a Cardiff City mascot this season

Season-ticket holder Tracy Morgan paid for her eight-year-old son Leo to be a mascot.

She said: "It was very expensive but it was worth every penny to see my son's face - and my husband's."

Ryan Moore bought a mascot package as a Christmas gift for his six-year-old son Niall.

He said: "It's free for some big clubs like Liverpool but a money-making scheme at others and there are so many mascots that it dilutes the experience.

"But we were pretty happy with the whole day. Niall loved it - apart from the team being hammered 4-1."

Most expensive mascot packages at Premier League clubs

Everton £718

West Ham United £700

Leicester City £600

Tottenham Hotspur £405

Wolves £395

Crystal Palace £375

Brighton £350

Burnley £300

Cardiff City £255

Watford £250

Bournemouth £185

Free: Arsenal, Chelsea, Fulham, Huddersfield, Liverpool, Man City, Man United, Newcastle United and Southampton.

Clubs have been urged to find a "good deal" for fans.

The Football Supporters' Federation said: "Clubs should speak to their supporters about what they think represents a good deal for parents and if fans have specific concerns, we'd be happy to look into it.

"Our campaign focus will primarily remain on affordable ticket prices - particularly fair concessionary and fair young adult prices."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mascot packages for Cardiff City's most popular games were sold out at the start of the current 2018/19 season

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