The Rising Cost of Football
Since the new football season started, we have been fed two news stories that appear to give hope to cash-strapped fans across the country. First came the news that average ticket prices in England dropped by 2.4%; then the FA’s decision to give £200,000 to each Premier League club to subsidise away tickets. These revelations have come as scant consolation to the true fans who are becoming used to being priced out of the game.
It is loyal fans who create the passionate and intense atmospheres which produce the exhilarating matches which huge global audiences love to witness year after year. However, the growth and success of the Premier League has resulted in ordinary fans being driven away from stadia due to the massive rise in ticket prices during the Premier League era. Live football is fast becoming the ‘preserve of the wealthy’.
The Bank of England says prices in Britain have risen by 77% since 1989, whilst in the same period the price of watching top-tier football has risen by 716%. For football fans this statistic is unacceptable and one which exhibits the ruthless pursuit of profit by football clubs at the expense of those who make the game what it is. Last year’s Price of Football study found that the average cost of the cheapest adult ticket in the top four divisions of English football had increased by 11.7% in the preceding twelve months – a figure that dwarves this year’s drop.
Clubs maintain that price increases are necessary to ensure that clubs can compete at the highest level. This claim has, however, been weakened by the recent success of Borussia Dortmund, where a season ticket can be bought for as little as £104. Compare this to Arsenal where the cheapest season ticket is £985 and you can see why fans are exasperated.
There have been a number of small-scale, grassroots protests organised by supporters’ trusts recently about this issue; however their impact has been minimal. Most football fans complain about the increasing cost of football, but if you ask them if they would boycott their team for a season or cancel their Sky Sports subscription to provoke clubs into a response, they are likely to say no. This is a key problem for those trying to make a positive change.
For every fan that refuses to buy a match or season ticket due to cost, there is always someone there ready to replace them. This gives clubs licence to charge what they want. Until there is cohesive, large scale action from footballs fans around the country, the price of football will continue to rise.