By now I am sure you would have all read the yearly BBC investigation or the Price of Football. I am also sure you would have read plenty of commentary on the matter from fellow bloggers. Most of the discussion has now been done to death, with the main topic’s revolving around how expensive football now is and how once again, the media highlight Arsenal as the worst of the worst, despite us getting 26 games from our Season Ticket.
There is a group of fans who never seem to get though about when the Price of Football comes out. And that is the away fans. The topics covered include ticket prices, and prices of pies, a cup of tea, a programme and an adult shirt. It is very much home orientated.
What is forgotten about is the most loyal fans in the country. The away fans. The fans who get to Euston at 6am to get to Wigan for a 12.45 kick off. The fans who are unable to get back to Newcastle due to Sky moving London away game to a Monday night. The fans who spend hours working out how to get to a game due to trains being suspended due to engineering works. These are your most loyal, and most neglected, fans.
As a member of the away ticket scheme, I travel up and down the country watching the Arsenal. There are 2 things that frustrate every Arsenal travelling fan – and I am sure every fan of every club:
1) Category A games
Firstly let me approach the latter briefly. The cost of trains. Any commuter will agree, our train system costs too much. But where football fans are hit is due to the inability to take advantage of tickets when they 1st come on sale. the ‘advance’ tickets.
In theory, it should be easy. The fixtures list comes out in June. Train companies sell tickets 12 weeks in advance. Travelling fans should be able to take advantage. But no. Due to the TV companies only deciding what games they are going to show over a 1-2 month period, it means that fans often miss out on the cheapest tickets.
Next week, it will be 12 weeks until Manchester City away, I should be able to buy my train tickets early, benefiting from the reductions. An early bird cost would be around £25 return.
TV companies tend to release what games they are set to show around 6 weeks in advance of the beginning of that period. If I were to book train tickets to Manchester for 6 weeks from this weekend, the cost would be £66. So football fans get stun by an additional £40+ due to TV companies.
Add in late changes of games (Hull away), games being moved to late afternoon/evening, resulting in fans not being able to get a train home (Everton away) and games being moved to a Sunday when National Rail have already announced there will be no trains due to engineering work (Leicester), organising away travel is the bane of away fans. But it is the increased cost caused by TV companies that is often most frustrating. (Sorry, it became a lot less brief then it was supposed to).
Every club (bar Manchester United) implements a pricing category. Some just do A & B. Some go all the way to D. The justification is supply and demand. That more people will turn up to watch Hull v Manchester Uinted than they would Hull v Southampton.
The problem is, the same clubs are always a Cat A. Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and more recently Manchester City. Whilst a home fan often does not mind paying a little extra – the increased cost to watch their side play Liverpool is offset against the lower cost to watch their side play Burnley – the fans of the Cat A sides are punished every where they go for supporting a bigger, more popular, more successful, club.
I spent a little time investigating the difference between being a Category A club, and being in the lowest category as an away fan (I have used Arsenal and Leicester as the two clubs):I expected the results to show a gap between the costs of the two sides, but I did not expect it to be so vast. A difference of over £200 between the two sets of travelling fans is astronomical. Disgraceful. Embarrassing.
The most a Cat A game fan has to play is at Arsenal – £62. The most for the low Category Sides is £47, away to Chelsea. A Cat A’s cheapest trip this season will be to Hull City, whilst a lower Cat side’s cheapest is to Leicester.
Some of the differences are shocking. Three of the sides (West Ham, Leicester, Arsenal) charge over 100% more to some teams than other sides.
For a long time, I have been a supporter of the FSF’s Twenty’s Plenty campaign, where sides agree to only charge away fans £20. It would cost the clubs very little in income, but would save the fan of a Cat A club £464.
By the time you add in transportation costs, you are looking at on average spending £100 a game following a Cat A club up and down the country. That is £1900 for anyone who, like me, does every game. Add in drink, food, and other expenses, the average away fan will spend around £3000 a season. I wonder sometimes how I can justify that expenditure.
How clubs continually get away with charging different sides different amounts I do not know. All the fuss is always over home fans. Their season ticket cost. Their Price of Football. But the away fans are always forgotten about. And the away fans of a top club are victimised. Arsenal being amongst the worst to punish other top sides.
£200, that is the difference in being an away fan of certain clubs. It is a shocking Price of Football that is rarely mentioned, but hits the loyal fans more than anyone else. It’s a disgrace.
- All prices were taken from Football Fan Guide
- Where clubs offer away fans adults, seniors, juniors and concessions, all prices are adults
- Where clubs offer lower and upper tier at different costs, the same banding has been taken for both
- If you paid a little more a little less than the above quoted, please don’t whinge, bitch and moan, do your own research, write your own blog