The BBC has released details of its extensive survey into the price of watching soccer games in the UK – and it reveals plenty. However, one over-riding fact stands out – going to watch games on a regular basis is very costly for the average fan.
This is hardly new, however, as most fans will already be aware of how much it can hit them in the pocket if they are planning to follow their side home and away across the whole season. It’s pricey enough for someone to do that on their own but if they wanted to do the same with a partner or young family in tow, it becomes almost scandalously expensive.
Some statistics from the survey, which listed the cheapest and dearest match-day tickets, season-ticket prices and also compared how much a ‘day out’ at the match costs for all 92 League clubs, particularly stand out with various ticket prices for the top Barclays Premier League clubs eye-wateringly high.
For example, Arsenal have the most expensive matchday ticket costing a staggering £126 while the Gunners’ are also guilty of selling the most expensive season ticket at a whopping £1,955. No doubt the north London club will point to the fact that they do also sell some matchday tickets for £26 – very reasonable in the top flight – and their ‘cheapest’ day out’, which includes the price of a programme, pie and cup of tea, is also relatively good value at £34.30.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Chelsea’s ‘cheapest day out’ is the most expensive in the league at £49.60, with Liverpool only marginally behind on £47.70, while so-called smaller clubs like Reading (£45) and Swansea (£42.80) are also expensive for fans to take in on a day trip in the same category.
There are some findings that will please supporters, such as Newcastle offering a cheapest matchday ticket of just £15, while Aston Villa’s is only £5 more expensive. But, on the whole, the survey proves fans are continually being hit in the pocket just to go and watch their side on a regular basis.
The research’s headline finding was that the cheapest adult ticket in the top four divisions of English football has risen by 11.7% – over five times the rate of inflation. Naturally, clubs will defend the figures and many will point to the fact they offer heavy discounted prices for Cup and European games.
But the price to watch the bread and butter – the league games – just keeps on rising and football fans seem to be getting asked to pay unfair sums to follow their team.
The Football Supporters Federation, in the wake of the study, say they fear football fans “being alienated” by rising prices. Again, this is nothing new and many traditional fans, plenty who used to purchase season-tickets on an annual basis, can simply no longer afford to pay the sums of money being asked.
The die-hard fans will say football is no longer a working class game (and hasn’t been for the last 10 years or more) while the different demographic breakdown of the weekly football crowd is affecting the atmospheres at stadiums and helping turn the matchday experience into a soulless, watered-down version of what it used to be.
However, because of the mass appeal of the sport, there will always be other, perhaps wealthier, fans to come in and take the place of those who have decided they can no longer afford it and while the stadiums are, for the most part, full, sadly it seems prices will just continue to rise.