The findings of BBC Sport’s annual Price of Football Study were released yesterday and once again, they make for very uncomfortable reading as supporters of English teams are still paying astronomical prices compared to fans in countries such as Spain and Germany.
The average price of the cheapest tickets in England has increased at almost twice the rate of the cost of living since 2011. The increase of 13% compared to the rate of living increase of 6.8% along with the year-on-year increase of 4.4% compared to the 1.2% rise in inflation begs the question about fans getting value for their money.
The study, that’s in its fourth year, has a new feature that allows fans to find out exactly what they’re getting from their team for the money that they are paying with a new “Price of a Goal” feature. The BBC have looked at the 2013-14 season and divided the price of the cheapest season ticket by the number of home goals scored to get their results.
Value for money
Norwich City fans are paying, on average, around £29.38 for each goal that they see at Carrow Road which is nearly five times more than that of a Manchester City fan who pays £4.75 for each goal scored at the Etihad.
No matter which way you look at it, to pay nearly £30 per goal scored at home is ludicrous and provides more fuel to the argument that football is out of touch with its fans and if anything, it should be decreasing prices rather than the other way around.
Money in football doesn’t just come from ticket prices sold and money spent on match days, the commercial sponsorship and TV deals associated with the “beautiful game” bring in more than enough money to allow clubs to bring down prices and make their clubs more accessible to fans – especially in an economic climate that has seen a very tight squeeze on fans’ pockets.
One figure that makes English football look extremely out-of-touch with the modern fan is that of season ticket prices, especially if you’re an Arsenal supporter. The ‘Price of a Goal’ findings for the Gunners suggested that season ticket holders are paying £27.36 for each goal scored – and that’s for those who opt for the cheapest season ticket of £1,014. Compared to the cheapest season ticket in the Premier League, £299 at Manchester City, that is a hike of £715.
It’s not just season tickets where Arsenal fans are paying more, the most expensive match-day ticket is a whopping £97 compared to the cheapest at Newcastle which is a far more affordable £15. The North/South divide may have something to do with the £82 difference in price but why should a fan in South have to pay so much more?
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) October 16, 2014
Foreign leagues have the right idea
Germany, the country that won the world cup, has got exactly the right idea when it comes to football in the current climate. Their football association is very well respected, the grassroots development of players is exceptional and more importantly, their prices are far more affordable. For example, the average season ticket in Bundesliga is just £138.
The Spanish system is also very competitive; European champions Real Madrid have their season tickets starting at just £174 and Barcelona fans’ cheapest option is just £103.
La Liga and Bundesliga are in the same pedigree as the Premier League when it comes to the quality of football that is on offer and yet the prices that they charge have nowhere near the same strain on fans’ pockets as that of England’s top flight.
£4.50 for a pie? Ouch!
It’s not just ticket prices that are extortionate; refreshments, replica shirts and match day programmes are also on the increase meaning that the amount of money spent on the day of a game is becoming less and less affordable.
Although they claim to be award-winning, most fans would have a tear in their eye if they were forced to pay the £4.50 that Kidderminster Harriers fans do for a pie. It doesn’t get much better when it comes to cups of tea either, Southampton, Liverpool and Manchester United fans each have to pay £2.50 for their match-day brew.
As damning as these finding are, it does give English football a platform to look at the state of the game and strip it back to what matters the most – the fans. After all, they are the ones who have devoted their lives to supporting their team and instead of being ruthlessly punished with an empty bank balance, they should be rewarded.