Fans from West Bromwich Albion are expected to join a Premier League wide protest this weekend as they travel to Crystal Palace and Selhurst Park.
Fans of all 20 Premier League clubs have been spurred into action by the current price of football tickets which averages out across the league as £53.76 per game.
That makes the league the most expensive to watch in the world according to Omnio`s Price Index and their CEO, Naren Shaam, explains succinctly what it means for the average fan.
‘It costs almost the same to travel to Germany to see a Bundesliga match as it does to stay in the UK and attend a Premier League game. Each week more than 2,000 British fans travel to see Borussia Dortmund play, in addition to the 1,500 Brits travelling to St. Pauli games in Hamburg and the 1,000 Brits going to Union Berlin games on a weekly basis. These numbers might lead you to question whether home fans in the UK are really getting a fair deal for their money.’
Germany`s a good comparison as in the pre season articles run it was pointed out that in commercial terms, the Bundesliga is the next strongest football market, but with an average ticket price of £23.02 their fans clearly have a better value for money experience compared to our bloated financial game – and in reality it`s not like clubs themselves would overly lose out with growing shirt sponsorship numbers, the television cash set to rise once more and so on – but whilst fans are prepared to pay it is supply and demand.
The organised protests at this weekend`s game will be calling for a £20 cap on all away ticket prices and banners are expected to be featured in the Everton v Liverpool and Arsenal v Manchester United matches but it`s being pointed out that with tighter ‘banner` policies, fans of clubs like Aston Villa who operate a strict ‘support the team` banner permission may struggle.
Kevin Miles, CEO of the Football Supporters` Federation explained that he obviously hoped the protests would see a change in policy from all clubs when it came to ticket prices in the future and there was a warning for any club who didn`t embrace the protest.
‘Pricing is a major barrier to watching live football for many fans – no club should deny fans the right to freedom of speech within grounds on such a central issue. Any club who does that will rightly face criticism from their fans.’
It`s also expected that fans from Championship sides such as Cardiff, Leeds, Birmingham, Nottingham Forest, Hull City, QPR, Bolton, Reading, Middlesbrough and Bristol City will also stage their own protests on the issue.
A Premier League spokesman explained that looking at the most ‘expensive` ticket didn`t provide a ‘fair reflection` on the issue and whilst that`s true – Arsenal`s most expensive £97 ticket does give an unfair reflection on clubs who charge £25-30 and plenty of clubs operate more favourable season ticket prices, and budget cheap seats for games – the cost of attending matches has been a sore topic for a long time and attempts to address that so far haven`t really seen much improvement.
The FSF say that clubs in reality, with the new £5.14billion three year television deal to kick in, could in fact open the doors for free in the future and still register an increase in income compared to 2015-16, so for them a £20 cap on all away tickets to start with ‘Twenty`s Plenty` is the right and fair way to go and then similar can be looked at for home tickets for balance.
They claim that through the £200,000 payment from the Premier League to clubs for away fan initiatives plus individual clubs striking ‘reciprocal deals` to cap away ticket prices, that 68,000 fans have saved £738,000 over the past two seasons alone and those are the figures they obviously want to grow.
The Premier League responded.
‘While the most expensive tickets are subject to the most attention, the huge number of offers available at clubs are generally ignored. This approach does not provide a fair reflection of what the vast majority of fans are actually paying to attend Premier League football matches. To provide an example, this season 12 Premier League clubs offered adult season ticket prices which work out as fans paying £26 or less per match. And many of the junior season-ticket offers at clubs see young people attending for less than £10 per match.’
One thing is for sure, complaints about ticket prices aren`t going away and we`ll have to see if this protests moves a few goalposts or not.