The Price Of Loyalty: UK Football Fans’ Annual Dilemma:

The 2014/15 Season is now over. At the time of writing, there’s just the Arsenal v Aston Villa FA Cup match on 30th May to be decided. There’s no World Cup this year. So from the beginning of June, the millions of people in the UK for whom this is their favourite sport will be able to take a break – at least until it all begins again in mid-August.

However, there’s one key decision many fans will have to make before they go on holiday: Do they renew their Season Tickets for 2015/16? If they fail to do so before the deadline specified by their Club, they’ll lose their seats and almost certainly never get them back. In order to avoid this scenario, most of them will pay up – despite the fact that (as reported by Ben Rumsey in the Daily Telegraph on 22nd April), there is “growing unrest among supporters” about the costs involved in going to watch matches. How can the Clubs justify putting up prices, they ask, when (as pointed out by David Conn in “The Guardian” on 29th April), “the Premier League recorded a profit collectively of £198m in the financial year 2013/14” and this amount will almost certainly have been surpassed in 2014/15 due to the £3bn that Sky and BT are currently paying for TV broadcast rights.

Many fans also feel strongly that the salaries being paid to Premiership footballers, even the supposedly “star” ones, have got completely out of hand. The UK sports media –reflecting this view – recently expressed incredulity at rumours that Liverpool’s 21-year-old striker ,Raheem Sterling,was threatening to move elsewhere if the Club didn’t agree to pay him at least £120,000 per week. According to the “Daily Telegraph’s list of the “Premier League’s highest earners”, Wayne Rooney & Robin Van Persie (Manchester United) are both on at least £250,000 pw, Manchester City’s Yaya Toure £240,000 pw & Sergio Aguero £200,00 pw, Chelsea’s John Terry £200,000 pw and Eden Hazard £170,000 pw. All of them earn more in a week than the UK Prime Minister’s basic annual salary of approximately £150,000.

Many Premiership Clubs have responded to this criticism by announcing that they will either “freeze” or even reduce their Season Tickets prices for 2015/16. At Arsenal, the cost will range from £2,013 to £1,014 -depending, as with all Clubs, on the location of the seat in the stadium; Chelsea (£1,250 – £595); Liverpool (£869 – £710); Manchester City (£1,750 – £299), Manchester United (£710- £532); Southampton (£853 – £648); Everton (£719- £444). These figures nonetheless compare favourably (says BBC Sports News) with AC Milan’s “most expensive adult season ticket of around £3,600”, but are much higher than Sporting Lisbon’s best offer of around £55.

Not everyone, of course, is able to obtain their own seat for the entire season. There are a limited number available. The only other option is to buy tickets for specific matches. Arsenal’s most expensive one (as BBC Sports News notes) is £97. “Chelsea’s cheapest adult match-day ticket is £50. Hull, Leicester and West Ham all charge £20 or less for some adult tickets bought on match day”.

The expenditure, as BBC Sports News has emphasized, doesn’t stop with the purchase of the ticket. There’s the match programme (usually between £3 -£3.50p), a cup of tea and a pie before kick-off and/or during the interval. Liverpool, Manchester United and Southampton “all sell the Premier League’s most expensive cups of tea at £2.50p. Burnley and Manchester City are the cheapest at £1.80p”. The cost of a pie is £4 at Crystal Palace, Manchester City and Southampton, but £4.50 for “a homemade one at Conference side Kidderminster”. An adult’s “replica shirt” at both Manchester clubs is the most expensive in the Premiership: £55, but only £39.99 at Hull. This compares with the “£67.25  charged by the Italian Serie A club Roma”.


Filed under: Sports | Posted on May 24th, 2015 by Colin D Gordon

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