Greedy Sheffield Wednesday should be sent a message by Sunderland fans

Sunderland fans are paying a hefty price for tonight's tickets
Sunderland fans are paying a hefty price for tonight's tickets
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Football clubs have always found inventive methods of relieving us of cash.

Legality and morality and not synonyms and clubs take advantage of their customers in ways that would have even the people who run airports cooing with admiration.

For example (and there are many), cost-cutting at Sunderland has led to the production of a match-day programme that is 32 pages lighter.

This would be acceptable with a concurrent drop in price. But there isn’t one. The programme has undergone what is known as shrinkflation: a practice in which the makers of Toblerone have led the way.

Across the country, clubs charge around £50 for something they like to call an “official short-sleeved replica home shirt”, rather than say what is really is. A T-shirt.

Just about every item in every club shop is overpriced; as are pies, beer, programmes ... The good news is that no one is obliged to buy any of this.

However, match tickets are a different matter. Football supporters aren’t really supporting unless they go to the match, so the real fans buy tickets as a matter of course. They feel compelled to do so; almost as they would eat and breathe.

Certain Championship clubs are aware of this and are taking full advantage. Away fans are penalised for turning up.

Before we say any more, it must be stated that SAFC claws back some credit here. On Saturday they play Leeds United; the nearest thing that Sunderland have to a derby this season.

Sunderland know there will be a decent away turnout. Yet a visiting adult will pay only £25 to stand in front of their seat.

I say “only” because last night Leeds charged Fulham fans £42 each to enter dilapidated Elland Road.

Norwich charged Sunderland followers £35 on Sunday. Sheffield Wednesday are demanding £36 this evening.

In a rare display of consideration for its customers, the Premier League has a £30 cap on away tickets (Arsenal fans will pay only £26 to watch their team at Chelsea next month).

But no such restrictions apply in the Championship, allowing greed to meet opportunity. The greed part is self-explanatory. The opportunism comes because the normal rules of the market don’t apply.

For example, Sheffield Wednesday are fully aware that regardless of the disgruntlement of Sunderland supporters, they won’t tootle off to watch Chesterfield versus Lincoln instead. They’ve got them cornered by their own loyalty.

We all realise that revenue in the Championship is an awfully long way behind that of the league upstairs. But recent transfer activity suggests that the clubs ain’t all skint either.

And if debt-ridden Sunderland with their terrifying wage bill can charge their visitors a reasonable amount, then so can other clubs.

So in the absence of positive action by the Football League, what can you do; bearing in mind that non-attendance is not a viable option for so many?

Well, it would send a message, as well as be hugely amusing, if Sunderland fans inside Hillsborough tonight did not spend a button on food, drinks, programmes or any other exorbitantly priced items that can easily be done without.