How deep are your pockets?
'Accrington Stanley? Who are they? Exactly.'
Matt Allen | 8 November 2015

If you are an avid football fan like myself, you will think nothing is better than watching your favourite team play live. Depending on your age, you could be paying a whole range of prices. But let us just say for this example that you are looking to buy a standard adult ticket. How much do you think an average Premier League ticket would cost? Adding on any extras like a programme, a cup of tea and a pie, how much would you be willing to pay? Sadly, in the modern era of football, no matter what you expect is a fair price, the actual cost is astronomical.

The average price for a day out – a ticket, programme, cup of tea and a pie - in the Premier League last year was almost £37.50. The highest proportion of this total amount is the ticket price. Ticket prices for English football matches have rocketed skywards in comparison to other countries in recent years, to such a degree that you could have been forking out more than £1000 if you wanted to watch Arsenal for a season. Even for simply a single matchday ticket you could pay up to £97. To put that into perspective, in comparison with world class sides in foreign countries, you could buy a season ticket for Barcelona, the home of the world’s greatest player, Lionel Messi, and the best team in the world, for just over £100. In addition, for a single match day ticket at Barcelona, you can pay around £18 only. Compare that to another English club, this time a smaller one. Take Accrington Stanley for example (Accrington Stanley? Who are they? Exactly.) Accrington Stanley play in the fourth division of English football. To watch a game at the Crown Ground (the club’s home stadium) you would have to pay £20. That is 11% more than the price to watch Barcelona. Not much in the grand scheme of things, but completely disproportionate when looking at the difference in quality of players and the football. These facts and figures leave English football fans puzzled, scratching their heads and asking: why is English football so much more expensive than Spanish football?

It is argued that the English Premier League is the best football league in the whole world, a fact clearly backed up by the number of tourists at each game. A staggering 800,000 people from overseas visited England last year to watch a football match. That is equivalent to the population of Leeds. However, the question is, even though it is the best league in the world, are the extortionate prices justified? No, they are not.

Football, as one of England’s most popular sports, has a very high demand throughout all of the divisions. If demand is high, prices can be raised. English Premier League football games regularly sell out, demonstrating that there is more demand than supply. In order to make the most of this excess demand, it makes rational business sense to increase your prices - exactly what football clubs have done. Acting as efficient businesses, they provide a limited product which lots of people are willing to buy, even at a relatively high price. Die-hard football fans may even go to the extent of cutting their daily expenses to pay for their ticket, a vulnerability of which clubs will always take full advantage.

So let me propose an alternative. Instead of staying in England, why not spend a weekend in Spain? Fly out and back for just £45, plus a ticket for a football match of £20 and a hotel room for £30, in total that would cost you £95, still cheaper than Arsenal and you have travelled 700 miles to a different country. What is there not to like? Sun, football, a weekend away, all for less than watching Arsenal play in England.

I will leave you with this. If you enjoy the sport, are looking for value for money and want to watch a quality football match, jump on a plane and travel to Barcelona. You certainly will not be left disappointed with the experience, and the quality of football is superb. Let us just hope the ticket price trend does not spread across the continent or make it even more expensive for die-hard domestic fans to watch their team play.


Original image used

James Routledge 2016