Price of Football: Clubs 'risk alienating supporters', says FSF

Football clubs are in danger of driving more and more fans away from the game unless they lower ticket prices, according to the chairman of the Football Supporters' Federation.

BBC Sport's Price of Football shows that fans in the Premier League are paying between £15 and £126 for matchday tickets this season, with season tickets costing up to £1,955.

Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the FSF, said: "We want football to be available to all income levels. Certainly at some clubs that is not the case. We are in the wrong ballpark for prices of tickets.

"I hear all the time of long-term supporters who have given up season tickets because they resent paying the money they are asked to pay. There is a danger that supporters feel alienated."

As the national representative body for supporters in England and Wales, the FSF believes more should be done to help keep football affordable.

"Fans are facing the same economic difficulties as everyone else," Clarke told BBC Sport.

"The extraordinary thing is that this is an industry with mega amounts of money coming in at the top of the game. It ought to be possible to allow some of that money to be reflected in reduced ticket prices for people who go to the games. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be the case.

"Supporters ask why they should pay increased ticket prices when all that happens with that money is more wages for players."

The cheapest season ticket available at Arsenal's Emirates stadium is £985, a figure Clarke calls "astonishing", although the FSF concedes that, with half of the clubs in the top flight offering season tickets below £400, there is value to be found.

And with 92.6% of Premier League seats sold last season,  demand is still huge.

"Arsenal do have amazing facilities," said Clarke. "I don't wish to single them out, but if you can't afford to buy a ticket, then you are not even getting to the starting gate. The experience on offer is irrelevant if the majority of supporters cannot pay the prices.

Comparisons

Adult tickets for the following:

  • England v San Marino, Wembley: £20-£40
  • Cheryl Cole, Newcastle Arena: £40.50
  • Bruce Springsteen, Etihad Stadium: £55
  • One Direction, Manchester Arena: £29.40-£38
  • Alton Towers: £45
  • Shrek the musical, Theatre Royal, Drury Lane: £20-£95
  • Billy Elliott the musical, Victoria Palace Theatre: £19.50-£95
  • Wigan Warriors Super League: £19-£23
  • Olympics Team GB Women v Cameroon, Millennium Stadium: £20-£40
  • Doncaster Races: £6-£85

"If you want to make football accessible, then price has got to be the key factor. If football doesn't become accessible to all, it runs a long-term risk of threatening the financial stability of the game in the future."

The FSF wants Premier League clubs to use the new £3bn TV deal to cut ticket prices from next season.

But Clarke admits that there will be little appetite for change as long as supporters continue to fill stadiums across the country and says fans are unlikely to switch to supporting a club with cheaper ticket prices.

"If you think the prices are too high at your club, you are not going to suddenly start supporting someone else," he said.

"Football clubs often take that loyalty for granted. If football fans behaved like other consumers, it might make the industry sit up a bit more.

"But we are not like that. We love the game and we will make great sacrifices in order to continue to go."