Are club prices driving fans from stadiums?
A survey by the BBC last month revealed that the price of the least expensive adult ticket in English football’s highest four divisions increased 11.7% since October 2011.
It was found that, unsurprisingly, Arsenal has the costliest season ticket at £1,955, with Tottenham not far behind at £1,845.
And it was obvious from Arsenal’s AGM last month that prices are angering the fans. Many of the questions centred on the impact high ticket prices were having on supporters, while a fan group at the meeting entrance put up a banner bearing the word ‘Greed’ as well as handing leaflets out. But, this is hardly surprising, considering fish and chips at the Emirates Stadium costs £13.90 and the cheapest price you can get a season ticket for at Arsenal is £985.
Looking at the prices of the costliest season tickets of the Premier League teams, half of the teams had theirs at over £800. However, that leads to the question, is it driving fans from stadiums?
Well, it is clear from the scenes at Arsenal’s AGM last month that fans are angry about increasing prices.
Paul Matz from AISA, the Arsenal Independent Supporters’ Association believes that the prices stop many fans of the Gunners from attending games. As well as this, he feels Arsenal should have a staged-payment scheme stating: “There are many Arsenal fans who are unable to attend Premier League and Champions League matches because of high prices and many others who have given up their season tickets, or struggle to pay the annual cost of £985 – £1,955 (and even more in Club Level) because of the lack of any staged-payment scheme.” In a staged-payment plan, people would pay in instalments.
It is also the case at other clubs that attending football has become more expensive. Steve Turner, an Ipswich fan stated to me on Twitter how: “My uncle used to say standing at the football was about the same cost as a mans (sic) haircut. Now about 2.5 X (sic) the price. I’ve never seen a tap for drinking water at a football stadium. You even have to buy water.”
However, numbers of general Premier League football attendance do not seem to have dramatically dropped despite concerns over price. A study that Pluri, a sports consultancy from Brazil, undertook of the countries with the highest football match attendances, England were second, ahead of countries like Spain, Italy, France and even Brazil. Figures also show that Arsenal is one of the most attended football clubs in Europe.
However, while official numbers have not massively changed for attendance, many are avoiding attending matches because of high prices.
It could also be argued that higher prices have changed the atmosphere at stadiums.
It seems apparent that the atmosphere at football stadiums is quieter than it used to be. Some even compare stadiums to a ‘library’.
So one question is, is this because it is just certain people who can now attend the matches because of prices? Is it the case that those who can afford the tickets are not as likely to be as vocal?
It seems right now that match attendance numbers are not being too badly affected by price. However, with so many complaints about cost, surely clubs should rethink prices to help fans and stop any potential future decreases in attendance numbers?