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Weighing up the price of football

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BBC Sport blog editor | 20:38 UK time, Monday, 1 August 2011

St Mirren were at pains to point out that they're the "only club in Scotland to offer free beans" with their pies.

Not surprisingly, given they've cut their prices by 25%, Preston couldn't wait to talk about how they put their fans first.

Oxford United's caterers - no need to re-read - sent out a full-page statement warning of the dangers of talking about "headline prices" of a cuppa and a pie - you might want to re-read that - because they didn't take into account quality or portion size. I jest not.

When you survey tickets prices of football clubs, you don't so much open a can of worms, as morph them into anxious, PR-conscious prairie dogs, looking over their shoulders at the rest and eyeing the sky for journalists and fans ready to pounce on anyone caught in the noon sun.

But is it that bad? I mean, really?

It's the football fans' favourite anecdote to bemoan the price of tickets. But expensive or not, 16 million people watched Football Leagues games last season. Not all of them could have been the wealthy middle classes, munching on prawn sandwiches from the corporate boxes.

That football is expensive is relative. Head to Iron Maiden (remember them) at the Manchester Evening News Arena recently, and the cheapest price was £43. At Old Trafford and the Etihad Stadium this season - to watch the Premier League champions and the world's richest club - it could cost you as little as £28 or £25.

Even at Arsenal where the most expensive ticket will cost you £100 - just 1% of tickets available - they hardly struggle to sell seats. More than 60,000 turned out at the Emirates Stadium last weekend to see a pre-season friendly against Boca Juniors. It'll be the same when the season kicks off for real next weekend.

A portion of fish and chips at Trent Bridge for a county match will cost £5.95

Clubs compete in regional, as well as divisional, marketplaces, where the economic trends of the area play as big a part as the football on the pitch. So it's not overly surprising that the likes of Preston, Rochdale, Blackburn, Bolton and Wigan compete against each other for the casual fans.

The same applies for Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea. Metropolitan London with a greater potential fanbase of affluence and disposable income, compared to the north west - smaller fanbase, lower wages. Not rocket science really.

So different prices for different levels of football is understandable, yet almost every club sticks with the £3 - or thereabouts - guideline for programmes.

Yet when it comes to a cuppa, (only tea bag, hot water and milk last time I checked) prices vary from 50p at Crawley to £2.20 at the same Blackburn club who offer the cheapest day out in the Premier League. Presumably, just about the same tea, but with a different environ and a captive audience. Market forces.

Two weeks ago I went to a Lancashire T20 game at Old Trafford, and bought my son and I cheeseburger and chips. The price? £11. But I did what we all do. I raised my eyebrows, muttered about yesteryear, looked at his expectant face and then paid up. He didn't even eat it, but that's not the point, and I'm not bitter.

What is the point, is that I paid at all. And that was my choice. Of course it was expensive, but going to sport is just that.

When I was young I moaned about the price of football as I watched Grimsby Town get promoted out of the old fourth division. More than 20 years on, we're having the same conversations. Yet we're still paying. No-one makes us.

This weekend, as the Football League gets under way, about 350,000 people will be at the games amid the backdrop of one the country's most difficult financial periods since the Second World War.

No-one will force anyone to make sacrifices to watch football. Yet they will - the only question is whether clubs are treading the fine line between providing value for money, or are profiteering from passion and dedication.

By Stuart Rowson, BBC Sport website editor


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  • Comment number 1.

    The BBC writing about value for money!? PEOPLE IN GLASS HOUSES!!!!?

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    You have to pay those prices as you aren't allowed to bring your own food/ drink in!!

  • Comment number 4.

    Football gets a terrible press but really everything once your inside a closed, captive "entertainment complex environment" is exactly the same. Newcastle Arena for Iron Maiden gig charged £4 for a pint. Iron Maiden charged £20 for a cotton printed t-shirt. Their performance was a bit like Blackpool - good at times but you figured they were better years ago. The best value for a single match tends to be in my knowledge a Carling Cup game (NUFC charged a tenner a couple of seasons back for a mid-week game) and that was a canny good night out.
    I must admit though it would be expensive to take a kid with you though.

  • Comment number 5.

    No mention of Hartlepool Utd Season Ticket offer for only £100 less than £5 a match, best deal in football.

  • Comment number 6.

    So according to the main article on BBC, the most expensive "lower priced" ticket is Liverpool yet this is not mentioned once nor above. Now there's a surprise.

  • Comment number 7.

    It doesn't have to be that expensive though. You don't have to buy from inside. Maybe try the local chippy outside the ground? I have a season ticket at Tranmere, £256 for the 23 games, just over a tenner. Plus I take my own coffee with me and don't buy over priced rubbish in the ground. Even if I take my daughter the whole day is less than £20.

  • Comment number 8.

    1 Is that the BBC whose web site you are using at no extra cost other than you £3 a week license.

    The price of the tickets to see the top teams can only be driven higher as teams scramble to meet UEFA. financial fair play rules which means the benefits of owners like Manchester City can no longer be passed on to supporters.

  • Comment number 9.

    At my team St Johnstone we have taken the catering back in house and the prices for pies etc came down. The club are also producing a quarterly magazine with a reduced weekly programme as so much information is now available on the web.
    Considering the wages that are being paid in England the prices the clubs charge are great. I don't think however we are getting value for money up here.

  • Comment number 10.

    If this is the same conversation as 20 years ago, why are we having it again? I had presumed that all the football journalists that the BBC employ were either on holiday (all at the same time) or on unpaid leave. Presumably this would have to be the case in an environment of cost cutting that saw the demise of 606?

    Anyway, it is market forces pure and simple. Given what Blackburn dished up last season, is it any wonder they are the cheapest? Is it simply you get what you pay for?

    I'm tempted to thing this is something of a non-story. A better article would be why people pay the premium to follow their team. It is like a religion to some and such luxuries can be the last thing to go when times are tough. Do you think the government really puts duties on cigarettes, fuel and alcohol for social reasons or do you believe they see as simply a way of generating revenue?

    Or am I just cynical?

  • Comment number 11.

    TBH these days a fiver for fish and chips ain't too bad - I mean it's £4.80 from my local chippy on the High Street. NUFC fans are lucky though that with SJP so, so close to the City Centre that you can go anywhere within 2 miles on match-day and be tripping over cheap beer/burger deals pre-match and bars doing cheap beers. But again it's when you're going with a family you get hammered. I mean you couldn't take your kid to the Bigg Market on match day.
    I'm really suprised clubs still do programmes though - a team sheet for 50p would be enough and then a .pdf programme for say a quid from online if you want one.

  • Comment number 12.

    I'm glad you have finally had an article about ticket prices although you don't focus on the price of away tickets. I'm a Sunderland fan and as I don't live locally to my team try to go to as many away games as possible.
    I've been quoted over £50 to go to Loftus Road for the SAFC game which beleive it or not is 5 days away from Christmas too It seems that its OK to charge cheaper prices for home fans but if your an away fan the prices are always a lot more than what home fans pay and you always feel ripped off. For some of us this is our only chance to see our team play but I'm now feeling priced out of away games due to the cost of tickets and transport. I just feel for the SAFC fans who will travel down from the north east and once travel, food and ticket price is taken into account won't have much spare change from £120 especially with christmas around the corner!
    By the way the QPR away ticket price is just the tip of the iceberg! Other clubs are just as bad for ripping off away fans!

  • Comment number 13.

    "1 Is that the BBC whose web site you are using at no extra cost other than you £3 a week license."
    What do you mean "no EXTRA cost". Its the £3 a week that puts the bbc in no position to comment on value for money! There are many websites where you can get significantly more football coverage than the bbc offer and they don't cost me a penny!

  • Comment number 14.

    #11 GrandFalconRailRoad

    I know what you mean about programmes but it's something I touched on at #10. People buy programmes almost regardless because of the souvenir value of them. It's all part of the day. Also, I'd imagine there are alot of people that only go to games sporadically and it becomes a destination thing and then even more the programme is part of the day.

  • Comment number 15.

    Nice research by the BBC, but utterly pointless as it won't change a single thing. Fans will still pay out to watch their clubs, clubs will still exploit instead of reward their most loyal supporters. Always has been like that, always will.

    I've never got why people buy Programmes these days anyway. Plus, this obsession some fans have to leave their seats early just to queue up for overpriced poor food and drink at half time is beyond me.

    I think the BBC would be better suited looking at why seemingly EVERYTHING in the UK is more expensive than in other countries.

  • Comment number 16.

    cambridge utd have fan initiatives where free tickets are offered to postcodes or areas in the city for certain games. these are usually against the altringhams or forest green's of this world, where less than a third of the stadium would be full.

    same for blackburn and wigan. their support can best be described as pitiful, hence they have to offer cheap seats to get people in.

    the most expensive club, however, has sold out every league home game since 1993, so i'm guessing price is not such an issue?

    A more interesting analysis would be to list prices with % of tickets sold

  • Comment number 17.

    It's always going to be a trade off. The very top clubs can afford to take a loss on tickets knowing that they will make up the money in Champions League revenue and merchandising. The lower league clubs will market themselves as 'family' clubs and will use lower prices to increase attendances and try and get kids to invest in the club in the long term. What is worrying are those clubs outside the top 5 or 6 in the EPL who can't afford to take a loss on the tickets as they don't have the European dividends but still need to compete financially so need to over charge fans as that's they only way they can raise the money to buy in players. Spurs are one of the worst clubs for this but I worry about the likes of Villa, Everton, Sunderland etc.

  • Comment number 18.

    At my local club Forest Green Rovers it is £10 for adults, £8 for seniors and only £2 for children. We saw them play Crawley Town last year who reached the 5th round of the FA cup. Not a bad deal.

    We don't have meat pies though :( because our owner is a vegatarien and a eco fanatic. (He is head of the company Eco-tricity)

  • Comment number 19.

    I paid £250 for my Swindon season ticket last season. This was sold a month before we reached the play-off final and the price was regardless of whether we stayed in League One or got promoted to the Championship. At the time that represented great value for money.

    Given that we then played so badly last season and got relegated to League Two, you may argue it wasn't such a great deal.

  • Comment number 20.

    this is all bog standard supply and demand, clubs like blackburn, bolton and wigan are the ones who regularly do not fill their stadiums - therefore they have to lower prices to get more fans in. Arsenal, Man U, Liverpool et al are abundant with fans with waiting lists for matches and so on - therefore their tickets are in such demand they can put up the price and they will still get full houses.
    down the leagues no club sells out every week and therefore have to have lower prices, then as we all know the things available inside is the simple convenience factor - you know things are cheaper outside the ground, yet you want that cuppa, that pie right now - and the clubs know that and will charge for the convenience, the same way an airport will charge higher prices for food and the like.

    if you want to save money on these things then eat/drink before - its as simple as that.

  • Comment number 21.

    not the first time i find myself agreeing with you CBK

  • Comment number 22.

    Disappointing blog, thought it was going to be attacking overcharging but the author either supports the prices or gets splinters in his backside from sitting on the fence.

    I would imagine from my own experience that programme sales are way down on years ago as they're a rip off as are in house catering prices.
    Fans pay the ticket prices because there is no option if you want to see the games but there is a backlash beginning, just look at crowds for meaningless games without sentimental returns such as Henry where years ago they would have been full.

    I totally agree with the poster who bemoaned the demise of 606. BBC can send 100s of reporters to cover a meaningless story about it being a year till the Olympics begin yet close this down and now they're giving up F1.
    On the way out I'm afraid and mainly due to bad management.

  • Comment number 23.

    The crucial difference with the Iron Maiden ticket is that even the most devout metal fans will probably go and see them only once a year. Football fans are being asked to fork out similar amounts on a weekly basis.

    Surprised QPR have avoided closer scrutiny in this survey. Apparently they'll be charging fans of 'category A' clubs up to £60 this season for the pleasure of following their team, and over £40 for 'category b' teams. I can't imagine that will be sustainable. As a follower of Newcastle United I'll be avoiding the extortion of the London clubs when I pick my away fixtures this season.

  • Comment number 24.

    Interesting that you say that Watford tickets start at £10 when, according to their web-site, the cheapest adult tickets for the two home games currently on sale are £26.

  • Comment number 25.

    #17 iancoady

    Much of the imbalance that you describe can be traced back to TV deals. Ideally, all Premier League teams should get the same money from the TV deal and all should be on TV the same number of times.

    Likewise, rather than UEFA messing about with the so called Financial Fair Play rules, they should distribute their money much more evenly between all the registered teams.

    I would imagine that neither of the above will happen, as we are probably too far down the wrong road to turn back.

  • Comment number 26.

    Someone above commented on it, but if you don't want to pay for the excess, just buy your fish and chips from somewhere nearby outside the ground. In the case of Blackburn, last time I was there, there was a large American fast-food chain beside the ground.
    Saying we can't do anything about it is a terrible British trait and we just accept the increase in price. What did Schalke and Dortumund fans do when their teams put the cheapest ticket over 20€? They simply didn't go, so the clubs were forced to back down. The cheapest Dortmund ticket is 15€, with the most expensive 67€, and that's to see the league champions!

  • Comment number 27.

    Lorcan is right. As with everything, the British will just moan, sit back and take it but never actually do anything about it and continue to pay through the nose. Look at the trains (actually relevant to the footbal fan days out). Living in London, I am constantly reading about people complaining about rail fares and increases on crowded services yet they do nothing about it.

  • Comment number 28.

    Most clubs have outside caterers so the clubs don't make much from the exorbitant prices you have to pay for a pie or a pint in the grounds.

    I eat and drink before I go in, and don't buy programmes. The match is fairly expensive at £18 (for less than two hours of moderate entertainment at best), but I rarely spend much more than £22 / £23 on a matchday.

  • Comment number 29.

    Sloppy editing - or can you not add up without a calculator?

    In the graphic for the Championship clubs you have Leeds "number" as £20 + £4 + £2.70 + £1.70 = £28.70!! Really?

  • Comment number 30.

    Some of the figures appear to be misleading. For my team Ipswich Town the cheapest adult seat is quoted as £15 yet this match day ticket price is unavailable for all but Carling cup games or Season Ticket Promotions.The normal matchday price is £26 or £28.50 on the day. I am unsure where the Beeb got it's data from.

    But this is merely symptomatic of modern football where a sort of arms race occurs between clubs to sign the best available players and often this means paying the highest wages to secure them. To pay for this (and offset the money put in by owners) Ticket prices go up and attendances fall. The normal football fan is the one who suffers most in his pocket.

  • Comment number 31.

    This is a very poorly researched article. To take ticket prices in League One for example, he author is comparing a £10 CONCESSIONS price (Rochdale) with an £11 that is only available for the League Cup (Sheffield United) with general admission (£16, at Yeovil). Unless you are comparing like with like, the comparison is meaningless.

    Considering such information is available on the clubs' official websites, it is mind boggling that so much of it is wrong!

  • Comment number 32.

    Why did the BBC take the cheapest seat, and fail to consider the amount of seats available for that price compared to the more expensive seats? Ordinary fans have tried to protest, but guess what, someone has come in and took their seat - they're not bothered paying an extra £30 per person to go watch a game of football, cos it's the thing to do

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 34.

    At least you can take your own food and drink into Arsenal (but not cans for some reason) as I'd hate to pay their prices for pies.

  • Comment number 35.

    In the main article on the BBC site you state that the cheapest ticket at Hull FC for a Super League game is £27. That is wrong.

    The cheapest tickets are £22 and the most expensive £24. Hull FC do not sell tickets for £27. Maybe somebody has looked at Hull City?

    It is worth noting that at most SL clubs you can get a ticket for around £18-£19

  • Comment number 36.

    These figures are based on match day prices and don't include season ticket deals or say how many places are available at the lowest price, e.g. Sheff Utd and Weds could easily offer low cost tickets for seats miles away from the pitch. As mentioned above Hartlepool have made a brilliant offer this season and it's been very successful.

  • Comment number 37.

    I don't think the price of my ticket is too much (I don't buy stuff anywhere near the ground) but if I was a fan of some clubs I would definately resent paying the over-inflated salaries of some over-valued footy players.

  • Comment number 38.

    As long as players in the top couple of divisions are taking home anywhere from £30'000 to £250'000 a week in wages it is inevitable that the cost of attending football will be very high. I don't actually think it is profiteering as there is little or no profit in football. It is just a vicious financial race to fund the success that is demanded by those paying for it.

  • Comment number 39.

    the fans if organised as a whole could turn around and say wait a minute im paying no more than £5 every game, if every fan of every club agreed to this wot can the club and the board/chief exec 's do? no fans no money, get a grip fans you are the one's with the power you just need to organise it. or carry on getin ripped off like the numpty's you are.

  • Comment number 40.

    Is the cost of football really that bad? It all depends on what you as an individual can afford. When I started going to football, minimum prices were set by the Football League and it was the same whatever division you were in. Once clubs were able to set their own level then regional and divisional variations become the norm.

    Having supported my club Fulham all the way down to the fourth tier and then into the Premier League I know which division I'd rather watch them in regardless of the additional cost. Season tickets are good value as is the programme. I rarely eat or drink in the ground and prices could be lowered a bit here.

    Some sympathy with the Sunderland fans complaint about QPR though, there is no justification in charging away supporters more than home fans foir similar seating. If QPR really are going to be the most expensive club to visit then they had better provide a decent view and ensure that the stewards do their job properly.

    Still having shared Loftus Road for two years a while back I hope the chippy in South Africa Road is still in business.

    One thing I would like to see return is for age concession prices to be no more than half the standard adult price, not there yet myself despite actually being a pensioner.

  • Comment number 41.

    oh yeah same goes for the bbc channels, why pay money for consistent news and political programmes on a daily basis, no entertainment of the slightest on bbc, truly woeful programming. family guy on bbc3 the only credible thing.....oh and american dad.

  • Comment number 42.

    Some interesting stuff here, but no mention of clubs charging more for away fans than home fans in similar areas of the ground.

    Charlton Athletic this Saturday are charging £25 for away fans. It's an awful lot for third division football, but cheaper for home supporters.

    Perhaps ripping off the fans of other clubs is the way forward? Will we see a return to away fans going in the home sections to save money?

  • Comment number 43.

    Liverpool have become a disgrace. Over-priced merchandise and inflated ticket prices have been used to make up for the lack of capacity and season tickets at Anfield. I've followed rugby league and football for over 30 years and football is now more than three times as expensive.

  • Comment number 44.

  • Comment number 45.

    "No-one will force anyone to make sacrifices to watch football. Yet they will - the only question is whether clubs are treading the fine line between providing value for money, or are profiteering from passion and dedication."

    Has this assumption been applied to F1 as it departs its excellent free to air coverage from the BBC to a subscription service of Sky?

    We're told of BBC cut backs yet not only does someone at the BBC have time to research it, someone else then writes a blog about it. No doubt the 'Sportsday Live' column will link to it and there will be a comment of the 'Football Gossip' Column.

    This could all have been discussed on the sadly missed 606 forums without all this BBC resource being applied to it - and they tell us there is no money to fund 100% Live F1 coverage next season?

  • Comment number 46.

    Having read some of the comments about the accuracy of the figures and doing a bit of research online I have to agree that what the BBC has on the main article is very inaccurate. What are they paying you for? Shameful.

  • Comment number 47.

    As already mentioned the BBC have been mugged of by the football clubs here. For league games Ipswich Town offer the £15 a ticket price for 4 games a year, you can't get the ticket price on your own and have to go with a season ticket holder who will have paid in the most popular parts of the ground £500 a year to sit there.

    Take the matchday £26 price for a 'grade b' game and at a quick glance i can only see West Ham and Doncaster as being more expensive.

  • Comment number 48.

    Bring back 606.

    No to mod€rn footba££.

  • Comment number 49.

    I remember taking the family to the Super Cup final in Monaco - Liverpool v CSKA Moscow in 2005. We were on holiday close by so I reckoned this would be a very expensive treat. We were amazed at the price - only € 15.00 each (about a tenner back then). Shame on the money-grabbers back home. If players weren't paid such ludicrous amounts (the word 'earn' has no relevance) perhaps fans wouldn't be bled dry. Give me a (much cheaper) day-out at Wimbledon or a racecourse any time.

  • Comment number 50.

    The clubs need to make money to try and keep up with the Jones's and buy the new superstar whizzkid for £10m that will probably fail but their fans demand... i can't remember a time when anyone from any club turned up at my house with a gun and told me i had to go watch them and pay extortion money for the pleasure. I have no god given right to watch football, live music, or any other form of entertainment - if i want to go and be entertained then i need to pay the market price, if no one attends at the market price then the market price will lower - but football is currently operating at under market price - which is why ticket exchange sites and touts are at all the big teams for virtually every game)... clubs lose money, they have continuing demands from fans to sign new players which makes those players more expensive (everyone in this transfer window seems to come with a £40m automatic price tag and £100-250k per week wages).
    i have a season ticket at Man Utd and actually think it is excellent value given i pay a combined figure of £1273 for my and my dads (over 65) tickets in the 2nd dearest section of arguably the best club stadium of arguably the best team in England... this is £67 per home game so £33.50 each!... for the big games the tickets can be easily sold on for upto £250 each and if i can't ever go i have loads of people begging me to let them use the tickets and are happy to pay £50+ per ticket for even the worst games....(again showing that at £33.50 i am paying massively under the "true" market value)... meaning that a fan could potentially actually get a profit from watching United!... crazy!!! - also there is a waiting list - proving that at the money it is over subscribed.. yet all the fans still hate the Glazers, think they are robbing every penny from the club etc... I dont feel the need to buy a programme nor do i have a metabolism that means i cannot go 2 hrs without eating so the price of food and drink is irrelevant to me - but that said it is inline with what i would expect to pay at any event (i bought a hotdog for £3 at a recent schools fun day.... maybe the Glazers were running this as well???... or maybe that is just what people pay for things these days).
    I also have a box at Bristol Rovers - this works out to be around £40 per game including food, tea coffee, drink etc per person.... i think this is good value as well.... if i didn't i wouldn't do it!?!?!?

  • Comment number 51.

    No wonder Barry hearn is nervous of West Ham moving to the Olympic Stadium. The O's fans will be questioning why they pay a minimum of £ 21, when they could 'potentially' be paying the same to watch a premiership team.
    On a seperate matter I feel that the BBC offer good value for money within their remit. Just an idea but why couldn't the Beeb (perhaps with other terrestial stations like ITV) set up a seperate subscription based channel for sporting events. This would give them the chance to compete with Sky while still fulfilling the license fee obligation.

  • Comment number 52.

    Economics 101: The situation with many premier league clubs is that there is an inelastic supply (the capacity of a football ground) and an almost unlimited demand. In this situation if a given club's ground is full every home game the prices are either too low, or just right. If there is spare capacity, then the prices are too high. It seems there's a case for several Premier League clubs to increase their prices. However, clubs in other divisions may need to reduce their prices - although demand may never meet the supply capacity in some cases and the most cost-effective approach may be smaller grounds in the longer term.

  • Comment number 53.

    Just got my 14 year old son a season ticket at Man United for £190, tenner a match, not bad, my problem is when he hits 16 it rises to £380 a season, when he hits 18, goes up to £703 a season which is what I pay for this season.
    Too big a jump, he could be at college or Uni at 18, and £703 is too much to pay unless hes in full time employment and not on the minimum wage. Earlier I read a Sunderland fan having to pay £50 for away game at Q.P.R, just been informed Uniteds price will be £70, rip off, not ALL United fans are loaded and eat prawn sandwiches.
    Hope United charge their supporters same price as surely they can afford it on London wages rather than charging them the standard £40.

  • Comment number 54.

    Load of inaccurate tosh. £27 to see Doncaster? Not at any game I've ever seen there.

  • Comment number 55.

    I spoke to Paddy Crerand (ex Manchester United and teammate of Bobby Charlton) once about player wages. He said when he and Bobby played, the players earned about twice the UK average wage (£20 a week compared to an average of £10 a week for the average working man).

    Now you have players paid £200,000 a week (in context, over 385 times the current average national wage).

    That - in a nutshell - is where the problem lies.

  • Comment number 56.

    Why does the main story call Wet Ham United the 'worse value for money' ?? That's clearly a matter of opinion. Shoudn't it just say 'most exensive'.

  • Comment number 57.

    #50 boomshakalak

    Excellent post. I read that and in the background I could hear the sound of a nail being hit squarely on the head!

  • Comment number 58.

    Is this not all about supply and demand? Blackburn offer tickets at a tenner because they can't fill their ground. Liverpool is £39 cheapest because they can fill the stadium. Also your figures for Man Utd are incorrect. The £28 you've quoted for their cheapest ticket includes the £5 discount for 'official members' (for which you have to pay £30 per annum to join or £27 to renew). How many others have you got wrong?
    I think you should be looking into what clubs charge away fans, as other posters have stated. I went to Blackburn last season and was charged £42 for my Upper Darwen end ticket yet one of my friends who supports another team went there and was charged £28 for the same ticket. 'Supply and demand' I hear you say, but both clubs were offered the same amount of tickets.

  • Comment number 59.

    Money's worth is in the eye of the beholder really. I'm quite happy to pay for my season-ticket at Old Trafford, others would say it's not worth it but spend a similar amount a year on say cigarettes or fancy furniture.

    Each to their own.

  • Comment number 60.

    What a thoroughly disappointing blog. Comparing football to concerts? I never see the connection, especially as people generally don't go to huge concerts (such as Iron Maiden) every other week, and thus concerts become occasional events. It's much more realistic to compare football to football elsewhere in Europe, and when you do that, English football is in a dirty, dark hole.

    Take Germany, for example. Average ticket costs in the top flight are about 10 Euros, and prices are held at this level because the clubs have strong ownership models. No foreign businessmen come in to milk the supporters dry because the German Football Association won't allow it to happen: fans groups own at least 51% of all clubs, and any changes to ticket prices can be voted down by those fans.

    It's also possible to get a ticket to the Milan Derby for about 12 Euros. Compare that to the 40-50 quid for the North London derby and you see the picture.

    And ultimately you fail to address a key topic, especially in the lower leagues. Certain clubs have such a small group of regular fans that if they were to stop going, the clubs could face extinction. Just watching lower league football is far too much money these days (a day out at Meadow Lane costs me £25+ if I want a hot drink and food) and it's not sustainable.

    Am I forced to go? No, but that only tells half the story.

  • Comment number 61.

    Earlier I read a Sunderland fan having to pay £50 for away game at Q.P.R, just been informed Uniteds price will be £70,


    Blimey, really? Loftus Road is garbage as well! That's possibly the biggest ticket rip-off out there.

  • Comment number 62.

    look at Bolton no increase in season tickets for 6 years.chid season ticket £49 and you can pay over six monthly payments interest free.transport to the stadium from all over the area £1.50 return.And then we get QPR first match and have to pay £50 for a ticket new boys what a rip off.

  • Comment number 63.

    this study must be worth at least a 3 match ban for Patrice Evra, no?

  • Comment number 64.

    Although an interesting piece of research and information I would have thought a more relevant analysis of 'the price of football' should focus on what is actually creating the reason for ticket/programme/pie prices and that is agent fees and player wages. An example I can think of is the transfer of Wayne Bridge from Chelsea to Man City. I understand the agent was paid £900,000 and for what? He wanted to leave, Chelsea didn't mind him leaving and Manchester City wanted to buy him. Using the BBC figures that £900,000 would give you any one of the following - 9,000 Arsenal tickets, 225,000 Leeds programmes, 225,000 Arsenal pies, 409,000 cups of tea or 19,169 days out at Liverpool.

  • Comment number 65.

    #53 chorleyboy

    Firstly, you start you make a good point then bemoan that your son will be in education and therefore won't be able to afford the full price. Tough! If he can't afford a new car or a mortgage because of his circumstances, will you also criticise those relevant industries as well?

    Anyway, just by way of example, do, say, Man U charge more for away fans that for the equivalent seat that a home fan may get? (I.e. is the QPR example actually just common practise?)

  • Comment number 66.

    These days football is the gullible being conned by the greedy.

  • Comment number 67.

    I watch non league football. Pay less than ten pounds a game. Go in when you like. Stand where you like. And non league football clubs are grateful for all the support they get. They make you feel valued. Go and support your local non league club. It's a cheaper and much more rewarding experience

  • Comment number 68.

    #58 JimmysDad

    'Supply and demand' I hear you say, but both clubs were offered the same amount of tickets.
    Both clubs may have been offered the same number of tickets, but demand from one club is likely to have been higher than for the other club, hence the difference in price.


  • Comment number 69.

    I've just commented on #58 and I've just read #62 (and now even from regular contributor at #61).

    I think some people need a lesson in the economics of supply and demand!

    #61 You may have simply been commenting on the absolute costs, but, Man U will have more fans wanting to get in than Sunderland hence higher demand hence higher price.

    #62 QPR will be maximising what may be a short stay in the top division and from the point of having a small ground. Also, maybe away fans can look forward to three points when visiting Loftus Road, hence charging away fans more for the pleasure. (Might seem presumptuous of QPR's chances of doing well but we are dealing in reality here.)

  • Comment number 70.

    Anyone not buying a programme has saved £3 straight away. Generally these are just adverts, articles readily available on the club website, and player stats (available anywhere).

  • Comment number 71.

    The part I find most insulting is that at Liverpool to buy tickets you must purchase a Ticket Membership card for £26, without which you can't purchase or even attempt to purchase tickets.

  • Comment number 72.

    Im a Regular season ticket Holder at Rochdale and as far as I know there are no Standard Adult Tickets available for a Tenner; not even in the Terrace at the Sandy. £10.00 is for a Junior

  • Comment number 73.

    The article does not indicate the cost of being a fan/supporter, eg. the Iron Maiden fan may only go to one concert per year but the football supporter is likely to at least go to every home game.

    Also it gives no indication of the duration of the entertainment. A full day of cricket lasts around 7 hours whereas a football match is under 2 hours (and unless travelling a long way is hardly a "day out").

  • Comment number 74.

    12. '...It seems that its OK to charge cheaper prices for home fans but if your an away fan the prices are always a lot more than what home fans pay...'

    I dont feel bad about this at Rochdale - after all the Away fans have got the best and newest stand!

  • Comment number 75.

    Dulwich Hamlet in London.
    When I was a kid it was £5 for a U16 Season Ticket if bought in the first month of the season. They played some pretty good FA cup games and pre-season matches.
    Well worth it.

  • Comment number 76.

    just read the article about cost to see premiership games and decided to check Blackburn Rovers next game against Wolves which is hardly an A lister. Cheapest ticket is £17.50 so where does the £10 ticket come in and how often is it for sale. Once again spin wins and tries to show football does not cost that much to see, truth is they are prcing the real fans out

  • Comment number 77.

    In the Bundesliga it is possible to go watch Bayern Munich at the superb Allianz Arena for £10... compare that with the £20 i would pay to go watch my local team - Dundee United (they do at least offer very cheap concession tickets). As entertaining as United are... they only average about 8,000 a match for a 15,000 seater stadium. I cant help but think that these prices are putting SPL fans off coming to games. DO NOT even get me started on EPL games! 40 squid to watch Arsenal- oh dear.

  • Comment number 78.

    #68 MrBlueBurns
    Both clubs may have been offered the same number of tickets, but demand from one club is likely to have been higher than for the other club, hence the difference in price.

    Nope, both clubs were both offered and both filled the whole Darwen end. My point is that some clubs categorise the price of game for away supporters too, meaning that followers of the so-called big teams are penalised (charged more) for supporting a big team. Completely wrong in my opinion.

  • Comment number 79.

    If you can't go a couple of hours without eating a pie then I'd suggest that you have more things to worry about than the cost of catering at football matches!

  • Comment number 80.

    I feel a bit sorry for Arsenal here (and you won't often hear me say THAT!!)

    The lead BBC story has a big graphic which displays Arsenal as the most expensive "day out" at £44.00.
    Yet just a few lines below that is the comment:
    "That's in comparison to Liverpool, where the cheapest day out
    available is £46.95."

    Come on guys... get your facts straight!

  • Comment number 81.

    #61 You may have simply been commenting on the absolute costs, but, Man U will have more fans wanting to get in than Sunderland hence higher demand hence higher price.


    Yeah I understand that but it's still annoying. I don't tend to go to many away games anyway so it doesn't massively affect me but I know a few lads that it will. One of the downsides of being a big club I guess.

  • Comment number 82.

    Will Watfords pricing get them more fans through the gate, I would expect so. But that does not mean they will necessarily increase their revenue, even lose. As an independent just going along to watch Watford play, the cost of the ticket will not be the over riding factor, the football they are playing will.

    Pricing is a balancing act which finds it's natural level of revenue generated, combined with the clubs and fans ambitions. If you were to ask all Leeds fans if they would prefer a £5 drop on ticket prices or an extra £3M player, I really doubt there would be an issue. Even with those cash strapped may well be prepared to go a couple of games less than deny that player.

    If teams are not doing well you can drop the prices through the floor and fans will not respond proportionately. I've seen clubs drop their prices 15-20% only to gain 5% in the gate. That even disappears unless the team is playing good football, to then be hit by lower gates and lower ticket prices.

    You have to have a product you can sell, then the pricing structure automatically takes care of itself.

  • Comment number 83.

    How have they reached these prices? It says Plymouth cheapest ticket is £10 when if you go on their website it says all adult tickets cost £20 anywhere in the ground! Confused.

  • Comment number 84.

    "Two weeks ago I went to a Lancashire T20 game at Old Trafford, and bought my son and I cheeseburger and chips."

    I see you haven't quite mastered the use of the English language yet....

  • Comment number 85.

    Why are the Premier League teams ranked randomly but the lower leagues by cost lowest to highest?

  • Comment number 86.

    When I left school at 18, I was fortunate enough to be able to buy a Life Members Season Ticket for my favourite club - Linfield Football Club. It cost me one months wages (£50.00). That was 38 years ago, so very good value for money!!
    I hope that 606 is not going to be curtailed - I remember the first 606 programmes hosted by Danny Baker - over twenty years ago - help lol!!!

  • Comment number 87.

    Nope, both clubs were both offered and both filled the whole Darwen end. My point is that some clubs categorise the price of game for away supporters too, meaning that followers of the so-called big teams are penalised (charged more) for supporting a big team. Completely wrong in my opinion.

    When you consider that the increased costs of stewards and policing may not even be recovered by that increase charged to away fans, totally right in my opinion.

    We have seen cases in the past where a club is not even prepared to accept certain away fans what ever the revenue, it's just more trouble than it's worth. For away fans it's a very simple equation, are you prepared to pay X amount to watch that game. There is no divine right to go anywhere and expect to be treated equally.

  • Comment number 88.

    As usual with football nowadays, this is an extremely shortsighted view of the issue. As a season ticket holder who travels to away games the number of younger fans who attend games has dramatically decreased over the last 10 years or so.
    Families and therefore the next generation of fans are being priced out.

    Yes the stadiums may be full today, but what of tomorrow?

  • Comment number 89.

    The analysis posted on the BBC website appears on the face of it to be inaccurate. I can only speak from personal experience, but as a Villa fan I can take my family for £40 on certain matches. Not the best games I admit, but still a family ticket for £40.

    They call it the "4-for-£40" option. If you average that out, it's £10 a ticket, yet you show the cheapest ticket price as £27. If you are going to do such a "comprehensive" review, it's important to consider all of the options and not just the standard headline price.

  • Comment number 90.

    This is (imho) a non-story. Despite this site being football obsessed, what is often forgotten is that nobody FORCES anyone to attend these "overpriced" events.

    Don't give me the plaintive "I've got to support them" guff. If you don't feel it's delivering an enjoyable experience at what you consider a reasonable cost, simply stop going. There are plenty of other lower cost alternatives that you can spend time doing.

    I took that decision years ago and haven't regretted it once.

    And one final thought. I'll bet less than 1% of those complaining about the cost of attendance were equally vociferous about the cost of their club's last signing......

  • Comment number 91.

    #50 boomshakalak you are exactly the reason there is a problem - selling your tickets on for more than face value is an absolute disgrace, it is people like you why fans who have been going 30 years have been priced out.

  • Comment number 92.

    If you want football to be reasonably priced then the following must happen.

    1. Take football away from Sky.
    2. Abolish the Premier (Greed is good) League

    The End.

    It has been twenty years since a top level English league game has been shown on free to air TV. TWENTY YEARS. A whole generation of fans has been brought up having to pay to watch football even if only on the TV!

    Sadly we can't rely on Government, Club Owners or Players to help reduce the costs that fans pay, the vast majority are greedy, self serving parasites. The only way that football prices will be brought down is to follow what has happened to the Music and Film industry, namely the Internet!

  • Comment number 93.

    i rarely buy tickets to games as i use my friend's season tickets when they can't go. i have never bought tea at football - surely a pint of beer would be a better survey?!

    bing back 606!

  • Comment number 94.

    If you don't feel it's delivering an enjoyable experience at what you consider a reasonable cost, simply stop going. There are plenty of other lower cost alternatives that you can spend time doing


    When people like you say this, do you stop to think that maybe they already have and are upset that something they have been going to for the last 30 years has decided you're no longer rich enough to attend so you should find something else to watch?

  • Comment number 95.

    what id like to see is for 1 week every fan boycott the games! imagine the clubs reactions when they realise we have had enough of paying over the odds for tickets etc and that WE actually meant business! i believe things would change..just need people with the guts to do it now.

  • Comment number 96.

    This is an example of sloppy reporting (the whole thing, not just this blog).

    Not only are the ticket prices quoted an inaccurate display of the costs of an "average" game, the BBC compounds the problem by extrapolating them over 23 home games and 30 seasons to show savings. If you look at Watford, their cheapest ticket for their next home match is £26 not £10. The £10 ticket may only be available for one match too.

    It does annoy me because a more reasonable comparison would be useful.

  • Comment number 97.

    As a Gillingham fan I made the conscious decision to stop going to the Priestfield on a regular basis back in 2004 after many many years of frequenting. The latest figures show us as having the most expensive ticket prices in League Two. A fact that wont surprise any fellow Gills followers..

    My reasons for lowering my attendance figures however weren't simply down to money. I've always wanted to see a game at all of the 92 grounds so I decided that the time was right to start showing my face at other grounds to see just how much value for money there was at other stadiums. The sad fact of the matter is that there are many stadiums in the championship and even a few in the Premier League that offer cheaper tickets, better football, better facilities and better views. Less money for more quality? That's a no brainer surely?

    On one side of the coin it most certainly is. On the other, it's not.

    I've read through people's posts saying "just stop going" and "no one forces you to go". These statements are true without a doubt. But our own clubs live deep within our hearts. If you're passionate enough, money doesn't come into it. You'll find a way to pay for your ticket, programme, pie and tea.

    It's not a new issue.. It's a very old one simply rearing it's ugly head at a time when we should all be looking forward to a brand new season of the beautiful game.

  • Comment number 98.

    Without wading through all the comments, I will point out that I looked at my club's supposed prices, and realised they are wrong. There are no £10 adult tickets at Argyle (they may do some £10 promotions for odd games, but it's not a standard thing you can rock up and buy every game). that's instantly made me wonder how accurate the rest of the survey is.


  • Comment number 99.

    At least football is pretty honest in someways - the seel you a seat at a game between 22 blokes (or women in some cases) and say yopu watch it and either like the result or loath the result - BTW we did warn you there's a limited view.

    Cinema's charge a premium for the best viewing experience and then the entertainment support industry e.g. TV manufacturers state you need buy a new TV to support reproduction of the highest quality reproduction of that product. Even worse the film makers might bring out a version you paid £10 for at cinema and this new version has bits you've not seen!

    Football isn't good but it's better than some....

  • Comment number 100.

    At over £20 the SPHell is a complete waste of money and the product is awful. Thats the difference between football and going to a rock concert...... And the stewards are all over anyone who stands up...its pathetic.

    Please stop writing apologetic articles about millionaire football clubs...they are businesses out to fleece you like any other commercial enterprise.


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