The BBC recently released their Price of Football survey for 2015, in which they have not only detailed the range of match-day and season ticket prices in the UK and Europe, but also compared these ticket prices with previous years. Despite the seemingly encouraging statistic that 70% of all UK ticket prices have not risen from last year, we can see some worrying developments in the British game too; namely, that the average match-day ticket in the Premier League has risen above £30 for the first time ever. We spoke with Liam Thompson of Copa Collective member and starters of the umbrella “Away Fans Matter” campaign, the Football Supporters’ Federation, to see what they made of the ‘Price of Football’ survey.
What do you make of the ‘Price of Football’ survey in general?
We think it’s encouraging to see that sustained campaigning on prices over the last two years from supporters is beginning to have an effect. The survey does suggest the alarming rise in ticket prices over the last 25 years is starting to slow. They’re stabilising perhaps, but stabilising at a high point.
Do you think the fact that 70% of British match-day ticket prices have not risen from last year is genuinely a good thing, or should it be higher?
It says a lot about football in England when it’s hailed as unusually good news that ticket prices aren’t rising even further. Football was incredibly expensive last season, and it will be expensive again this season – particularly on match-day tickets, for away fans and young adults.
Are you worried that the average match-day ticket price in the PL has risen above £30 for the first time ever?
We’ve always said that fans can get better “value for money” with season tickets and local promotions. We’d like to see many of the more expensive match-day adult tickets come down to an affordable level. Away fans are often at the sharp end too – we think a £20 cap for all away tickets would be an excellent start. It’s disappointing to see that the average match-day ticket has passed the £30 mark. If a supporter can’t commit to a season ticket, for whatever reason, then they’re going to lose out significantly. This is not just a Premier League problem though, many in the Football League are all too familiar with match-day tickets over £30.
Your Twenty’s Plenty campaign targets ticket prices, but do you think more should be done to address other match-day costs? For example, it now costs £118 for the full Man U kit from the shop for adults, and £103 for kids.
The cost of travel, programmes, food and drink and replica kits are all part of the picture. We’d certainly encourage clubs to give their fans clearer guidance when purchasing replica kits. In the past we’ve suggested clubs have an “expiry date” when selling their replica kits, so fans can make a more informed decision if they know how long the shirt will be in use for.
Do you believe it is actually feasible for the Premier League to follow the footsteps of the Bundesliga with regards to ticket prices?
Premier League clubs knew before they had even set their ticket prices for this season that they would be due a substantial windfall from the new TV deal. Thanks to this new broadcasting deal, clubs will receive around £40 more per seat, per match at every single game. Fans are the only stakeholders in football who continue putting more in despite this. Premier League clubs could afford to cut their ticket prices. Whether the clubs are willing to do so is another question!
Do you think the Premier League’s lack of change in ticket prices comes from an unwilling attitude? Do the clubs really want to change?
There have been significant victories in the last couple of years – and the clubs have shown they can respond to pressure from their fans. The introduction of the Away Supporters’ Initiative is one example. Reciprocal price deals for away fans have saved thousands of fans a lot of money, clubs often adopt these due to supporter pressure. Swansea City will be making sure their fans don’t pay more than £22 for an away ticket this season. Concerted effort from football supporters does make a difference.
The FSF started the ‘Twenty’s Plenty‘ campaign in January 2013, and also front many other important fan campaigns such as safe standing in the UK.