The Price Of Football (2016 BBC Study)
TV deals have caused questions to be asked about the necessity of high prices for fans to attend football matches. The results of ‘the Price of Football’ were released after the biggest study of its kind was conducted. The investigation meant that prices of 223 clubs across 23 leagues in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales were looked at.
The Price Of Football (2016 BBC Study)
In March of this year Premier League clubs unanimously agreed to cap prices of away tickets at £30 for the next three seasons after a concerted effort by organisations such as the Liverpool fans group Spirit of Shankly and the Twenty’s Plenty campaign. In the grand scheme of things this was a step in the right direction but the decision was made easier by the ever increasing TV money that teams are receiving. Before the cap, ticket prices for away games at some venues were reaching over £50 and this is just for the match. What is often forgotten is that an away day doesn’t just compromise of a match day ticket but costs of travel and refreshments too, furthermore the prices can increase even more for those adults taking their children. The cap allows a wider audience to access the atmosphere of an away game; however it is higher than the £20 cap that was originally targeted even though clubs have enough financial leeway to allow this to happen. The cap in the premier league has now left a spotlight on the championship, with the average cost of a championship away match at £31.57.
Despite the help for away supporters in the premier league, the question marks still surround the help for home supporters and season ticket holders in particular. The Premier League’s cheapest season ticket average of £480 is less than the cost in 2013 but it is only a £9 reduction on the £489 average cost. You could look at this two ways and see that it’s a step in the right direction or that it is not a big enough reduction in correlation to the money clubs are receiving from the bumper 2016-2019 Premier League TV rights deal, which includes £5bn for domestic rights and another £3bn globally; the deal will see top-flight clubs will each benefit by a minimum of £100m. On this current deal, the Premier League could let every fan in for free and still have as much money as the previous deal. With more money set to come in 2019 after the Premier League agreed its biggest per year deal yet with Chinese TV; from this deal every premier league club looks set to make £8million a year from the Chinese TV deal alone. This should pave the way for further reductions in the future.
Despite the bumper deal only 34% of prices were cheaper than last year. The good news is though that 53% of prices have been held and only 14% of prices have increased in the Premier League but surely more can be done. Amid the help for away supporters, you would speculate that more would be done to help home supporters beens as they are your fans yet still 11 of the 20 premier league clubs cheapest match day ticket is £30 or more. With some ticket prices reaching as high as £97 at Arsenal and starting at as high as £52 at Chelsea. Obviously the prices in London come with the territory but it is still quite disturbing that nothing has been done to cap prices for home supporters, surely there has to be something on the agenda. West Bromwich Albion are one club I’m aware of that have had offers on home tickets most games this year and have a special offer of £15 for adults and £5 for children for their upcoming fixture with Burnley. The continued offers do question the value of a season ticket that fans have already purchased, but the offers may be in an attempt to improve attendance figures that have fallen (Pulis factor). The biggest surprise in my eyes is that in the top five leagues in England, the two cheapest match day tickets on offer both cost £9 and the two teams are premier league clubs in Hull and Liverpool, hopefully more teams follow suit including teams in the EFL.
At £252, Hull City have the cheapest season ticket in the Premier League and it is less expensive than 88% of clubs in the Championship. Whilst at £499.50, Norwich’s cheapest season ticket is more expensive than 13 of the Premier league clubs’ cheapest season tickets and this includes previous champions Leicester. In league one, Southends’ cheapest season ticket is priced at £395 and this is pricier than 8 premier league clubs. Whilst in league two, Mansfields’ cheapest season ticket costs £330 and is dearer that 5 premier league clubs including Man City. The worry is that the higher prices in the lower leagues will lead fans to search for better value but this is false as fans strictly go to watch the team they support, however the prices may impact attendance figures. Having said this EFL clubs have reached a significant landmark this season, in attracting over 500,000 season-ticket holders across the three divisions for the first time; which would suggest the prices are not diverting fans from attending.