BBC Sport’s Price of Football 2013 study (which analyses the price of attending football matches across England and Scotland) makes for grim reading. Although the bigger picture shows that the steady increase in price has generally halted, the truth is that the beautiful game is not a cheap pastime for the average Joe to pursue.
The study covered 164 clubs across 10 divisions; five from England, four from Scotland and the Women’s Super League. The results were eagerly anticipated, especially given the fact that the average price for the cheapest ticket in English football had gone up by 11% in 2012.
The most positive news came from the top four English leagues, with the cheapest adult season ticket down from £344.63 in 2012 to £336.23 in 2013 – a drop of 2.4%. The average for the most expensive adult season ticket fell 1.6% from £546.30 in 2012 to £537.60 in 2013. The average for the cheapest adult match-day ticket is down 1.9%, from £21.24 to £20.85. The average for the most expensive adult match-day ticket dropped around 1%, from £34.11 to £33.81.
There were mixed results from Scotland’s top flight, with the average price of the cheapest season tickets down by 1%, but the average cost of the cheapest match-day tickets rising by more than 3%.
In general the price of tickets, be it match-day or for an entire season, have stagnated. However, with the average football fan struggling in a downtrodden economy, most clubs across the UK are not making it any easier for their supporters to attend on a Saturday afternoon.
At the very highest level, the Premier League, the average price of the cheapest season ticket rose 4.3%. With the additional revenue that clubs are bringing in due to an improved television deal, this statistic is extremely worrying for football fans. The average price of the cheapest season ticket has still gone up despite the massive extra income coming into the league and despite the very difficult economic circumstances many supporters are in.
Almost all the additional money is being used to fund player acquisitions and paying agent fees, with very little seeming to go into off-pitch investments that have a key role to play in shaping the club’s future and fanbase.
Arsenal remain the most expensive club to watch, with the priciest category A adult match-day ticket at the Emirates Stadium costing up to £126. The Gunners also have the costliest season ticket, with it stinging some of the north London club’s fans £1,955 to attend all home Premier League games and seven cup fixtures.
By contrast, Manchester City have the cheapest adult season ticket in the Premier League at £299.
Arsenal being based in London will be a factor in the more expensive tickets. Whether City are keeping their prices low to look out for their fans or to make an attempt at forging a more dynamic atmosphere at the Etihad Stadium remains to be seen.
One thing is for sure; the price of watching football is as high as it has ever been. With competition on the field fierce, it seems like it is the fans that are paying the cost of ambition from the terraces.