Football fans are the heartbeat of professional football, without the hordes of supporters piling into stadiums all across the world where would the beautiful game be? The fans keep their clubs ticking over, whether it be buying the merchandise or stumping up the cash for match day and season tickets. Most are fanatical enough to pay whatever their clubs demand, however, this doesn’t mean they are happy about it. This month has seen the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City all increase ticket prices by around 6%, with 2.5% of the increase a result in the VAT increase. So I want to explore two sides of the argument; firstly, was this inevitable, due to the current financial climate and just a reality we have to accept? Or is it a case of clubs holding the genuine football supporters to ransom with hiked up prices?
Prices are going up all the time in all areas of life, whether it be the price of petrol, alcohol or food and it would seem that football tickets are just another one to add to the list. There was a wide expectancy from supporters of Premier League and Championship clubs that there was going to be an increase in ticket prices for next season, but it’s not until it’s announced that it really hits home with the fans. This is an area where football clubs have complete power over fans, for if they want to watch their team, most fans will still hand the money over. At the end of the day a football club is a business and it needs to make a profit to survive, so increasing ticket prices is just one of the ways to do it.
From what I have read about the situation the three clubs I have mentioned above have genuinely increased their prices to cope with the VAT rise and have tried to be as reasonable as possible. In this extract from the BBC website Keith Jelley, of the Liverpool Supporters Club, said: It’ll be a disappointed reaction from fans but I think it is fair.” The match day tickets at Anfield have only increased by a pound for seats in the Kop and £2 everywhere else, which doesn’t seem a lot, but when added to a season ticket becomes a bigger deal. However, it’s not quite as reasonable at newly promoted QPR, they have increased season tickets at Loftus Road by 40%, a rise which has incensed many Rangers fans who think they are being exploited by their wealthy owners. In this instance I feel QPR are taking advantage of the nationwide ticket increase and are benefiting from their promotion financially at the fan’s expense.
The rise in ticket prices is a bitter pill for football fans to swallow but I can’t but help but lean towards the fact it’s something clubs have to do. This is something that was always going to happen, and it will happen again in the future. The increases vary from one club to another and can be scrutinised in different ways, I think QPR have taken it too far with their increase, but the bigger clubs have tried to be as fair as possible. Then again I suppose you could question why the big clubs, who have just qualified for the Champions League and all its entailed riches, need to make the price increases for the forthcoming season?
I wouldn’t put the increase in ticket prices solely down to the current financial climate but I do feel it has played a part. Most clubs do value their supporters and try to find a happy medium between prices that are fair for them and the club. It just shows that as much as football supporters wouldn’t be able to live without their beloved teams, the clubs need the fans and their money just as much.