We’re not so lucky in England as the Americans are to have four major sports on offer throughout the year, five if you want to include Nascar. But even then, the fortune of living in a winning market comes with the penalty of inflated ticket prices.

New York is one of the obvious markets, you’re going to pay big to go and see the Knicks, the Rangers or the Yankees. The Toronto Maple Leafs charge the highest prices in the NHL, while season tickets can be bought in Florida for the same price as one ticket to see the Leafs.

In England, it’s football or nothing. I’ve yet to come across a fan who shows as much passion for rugby or cricket as they do for football. And therein lies the problem. Leagues and clubs are not going to waver on prices just because a few don’t fancy paying it. If you’re a student or someone from the local area who struggles to go to at least five games a season, forget it, clubs will look to their foreign audiences and the injection of cash tourists bring. It’s no bother to them if local fans can’t get to games: largely stadiums will fill close to capacity.

I don’t blame Manchester City fans for sending back those tickets for the trip to Arsenal on the weekend. Some might argue that they’re playing with the big boys now and need to pay big prices. Others will argue that London prices warrant the inflated price for going to matches, as Arsene Wenger did in his pre-match press conference. But even then, the Arsenal manager shuffled uncomfortably before answering the question on ticket prices. He eventually did land on the matter that concerts in London are priced higher than those around England and specifically up north. But I’m not totally convinced that argument holds water.

I’ve been to big concerts in London and at arenas like Wembley, the O2 and Earls Court. The price is based on the fact that you pay for what you get, and I’ve rarely been disappointed when going to a big gig in London.

But you get the big stadium atmosphere, you get the impressive stage production, the explosions, the fact that it is a big name on the music scene. Is that always the case for football? With Arsenal, you can certainly argue that you’re not getting what you pay for. I’ll also make the same argument for the New York teams and the Maple Leafs. The Leafs are the wealthiest team in the NHL but haven’t lifted the Stanley Cup since the 1960s – they’ve also failed to make the playoffs for the last eight seasons. New York? Well the Yankees are one of the biggest baseball teams in the MLB, but the Knicks are useless in the postseason and the Rangers haven’t wont the cup since 1994.

With clubs like Arsenal, the production is there with the big stadium, but there are no explosions, no performances that leave you breathless and more than willing to shell out the next time they come to town. And that’s another argument: going to see acts like Bruce Springsteen is totally different from going to watch a sports team every other weekend for nine or 10 months of the year.

Football matches have been lumped into the same entertainment category as going to concerts or the theatre, with the obvious case being that you’re going to pay big for the big names. Well that shouldn’t be the case. Football and sports on the whole is not and should not be seen in the same category as the rest of the entertainment industry, quite simply because it isn’t.

Arsenal have not created the tiered ticketing system themselves, however they surely think of themselves as a club who should be placed in category A. But that doesn’t represent the product many are paying to watch, and it hasn’t done for quite a few years. Yet unlike fan groups in America who are trying to persuade supporters to boycott games (especially in the case of the NHL now that the lockout is over) Premier League fans will never turn their back on the only sport they have. For that, clubs will take their time in attempting to lower prices, they’ll try to justify the reasoning as purely for the health and growth of the club financially or the need to pay wages. It’s nothing other than masked exploitation.

I really can’t look back to days when tickets could be bought on Saturday afternoons and terracing was the norm — I’m too young. But how many of those fans, youngsters especially, grew up believing and knowing they had a club to support, a club which they could readily gain access to? How much of that is the case now?

And people shouldn’t be dismissed as moaning over something which will never change; the point is that ticket prices should never have reached these levels in the first place. Yes there’s inflation and various other factors that would necessitate the rise in ticket prices, but there is absolutely no way a club can justify charging over £100 for 90 minutes of football.

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  • max
    2 years ago

    62 quid and an Arsenal performance ike that….tut tut

    Reply
  • g c
    2 years ago

    Man c pushing up player prices and pay forces up ticket prices

    Reply
    • DomOA
      2 years ago

      Complete nonsense, I’d go into why but I think you’ve already made your mind up. One thing that may get through to you though is ticket prices were going up before City or Chelsea struck gold and when United and Arsenal usually dominated. Two greedy clubs owned by greedy people.

      Reply
      • DoubleDoubleDouble
        2 years ago

        Could you explain why Arsenal and Man Utd are greedy, yet other clubs, like Man City, aren’t?

        It cost Arsenal fans £56 to go to the Etihad, and they’ve been charging higher prices to the fans of Arsenal, Man Utd, Liverpool and Chelsea (and Spurs, I believe) for a while – with the excuse that we are an attractive draw for YOUR clubs fans.

        So, before you get on your high horse, try to look at the greedy people running your club who have been leeching off the success of other clubs for ages.

        Reply
        • George Bainbridge
          2 years ago

          Its a pity that fans always take a tribal view
          We al have more in commomn but we emphaise the difference Amovie is 2hrs plus long and you know what its story or theme might be and it costs under a £10.00 to get in Football you could see a great game but more likely a dud Nil – Nil
          Prices should be set so that aall fans can choose to go or not

          Reply
  • cft
    2 years ago

    I don’t begrudge them their riches, but there is a downside to the FACT that Man City’s sheikh owners have HYPER-INFLATED player wages. Not saying it’s right,but they’re the last crowd I am going to feel sorry for.

    Reply
  • cft
    2 years ago

    City are not the only club pushing player’s wages up, for sure, but certainly not helping the problem.

    Reply
  • Sebastian
    2 years ago

    What a stupid conclusion. Football is a business just like any other. If the stadium is full then it totally vidicates the ticket price. The tickets that weren’t sold went on sale to Arsenal fans and were sold. If the stadium was half full then the price would be wrong. If Arsenal get 60,000 people turn up at that price, then they’ve have done good business, like it or not. Plus don’t forget, everything is more expensive in London…Spurs tickets aren’t much cheaper.

    Reply
    • Jim
      2 years ago

      That’s ok while the people who can afford higher prices continue to attend and pay. Once they move onto their new toy or something else that is new and shiny your football club will be turning back to its staunch supporters who just may not be interested any longer. Many major sports are commiting to this strategy and alienating true fans. It will come back to bite them.

      Reply
      • Mutsa
        2 years ago

        you all need to realise that this is a market that is controlled by supply and demand, if the stadium only has 60,000 seats in it whats the point of pricing the tickets so that 100,000 can afford it? are you suggesting that the tickets should be cheaper for the sole reason of making everyone feel like they ‘could’ afford to go even though they are not gonna go?

        Reply
  • Berad
    2 years ago

    Supply and demand. It’s an ages old theory. Like it or not football is entertainment and there is an extremely high demand for seats inside the stadia. You can also watch on tv if you don’t wish to pay for the ticket. Not saying it’s good or bad but it is. London is one of the most expensive cities in the world. How much to go to the ballet in London? The theatre?

    Reply
    • Res90
      2 years ago

      The supply and demand argument significantly reduces the debate into 2 quite simple and not wholly representative segments. Markets are highly complex, and I think this particular debate requires an element of what is ‘fair’ to be at least considered. There are many markets which are regulated for a variety of good reasons. It may just be the case that this one should also be considered from that perspective

      Reply
  • Indyfan
    2 years ago

    I’m a bit surprised by this article.I’m an old codger – I left England 55 years ago for the States, aged 28. I played soccer, cricket, badminton , table tennis and chess, mostly competitively at various amateur levels. In the States I felt people were not nearly so active in sports! OK so here we can watch football, and soccer and tennis (oh I got into that, too, but not in England) and baseball (yawn). I think you’re much more sports orientated, at least in terms of getting your backside off the couch and enjoying playing. As for watching football, every township or village in England has its own team, why not support it instead of paying through the nose to watch a big club (you can always follow it on TV).
    I am able to watch Spurs almost every week on TV – and I’m one who remembers watching them from the terraces week i9 week out for a few bob:)

    Oh, cricket was my best game and the one I really missed for years. I’d love to pick up a bat again!

    Reply
  • dave
    2 years ago

    Why do you think the London clubs are worrying about West Ham getting the Olympic stadium. They will drop ticket prices big time and cause the others issues.
    West ham already do kids for a quid often, the so called big london clubs will hate it when they make it £25 for adults. Give it time they will react.
    West Ham charged MAN U fans £20. For the cup game, replay Man U charge £45. They had a choice but took the chance to screw the fans again.
    West Ham aren’t great, they caned everyone in the championship, but I think they are reckognising people c an’t do it all the time.
    Simple answer, don’t buy the tickets, or dare I say don’t buy your sky subscription, thats what started it all.

    Reply
  • Rodin
    2 years ago

    I would suggest that those of you parroting the frankly moronic line about ‘football is a business like any other’ perhaps you’d like to quote me the business manual that states that a successful business is one that racks up losses many times its turnover, year after year after year and still remains in business.

    Or perhaps you’d like to find me an example of a business whose assets go through almost complete amortization unless sold before any significant percentage has been converted into profit.

    I would suggest before you open your mouth or apply your forehead to your keyboard and say that football is a business like any other, you actually read up on and understand some of the principles OF business.

    Until then, you’re just a mouthpiece for a abnormal business system – one that will eventually price YOU out of a ticket. I wonder how loudly you’ll shriek that football is a business like any other then.

    Reply
  • Warrington Blue
    2 years ago

    The problem with all this is that the clubs and the supporters are coming at the problem from opposite sides. The supporter wants to watch his team for as little as possible, never mind the buzz words “match day experience” on the other hand the club want to get as much out of you as possible. The corporate lot who are one off game goers and company charged are not concerned nor are the tourist match goers. When the supporters are priced out you will end up with atmosphere like at the library. There will still be no concern whatsoever from the clubs as long as the seats are full.

    Reply
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