Does The English Premier League Actually Want Fans In The Stadium?

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“Football with out fans is just nothing,” goes the quote from the legendary Celtic manager Jock Stein. Few would argue with him. Anybody who had the misfortune to sit through England’s current 0-zero draw with Croatia might be acutely aware of this: the game was played behind closed doors on account of sanctions in opposition to Croatian fans and thus possessed an atmosphere more akin to a morgue than to a major sporting event.

While the importance of football fans to the game is apparent, it might not actually be that related to the clubs themselves. Despite the platitudes handed out by managers, gamers and administrator, the financial impact of supporters passing by means of turnstiles, shopping for merchandise and meals and usually being present at the occasion is ever-lowering as tv cash becomes the driver behind income. It begs the query of whether or not fans are literally obligatory at all for clubs to make money. In accordance with the balance sheets of half the English Premier League (EPL), they aren’t at all.

The cost of football, and the perceived rise in it, is a continuing bugbear for fans. Ticket prices have grown exponentially for fans, and even factoring in various worth freezes put in place across the leagues and caps on the price of away supporter tickets. MyVoucherCodes helpfully compiled the data on this compared season ticket prices and single ticket prices throughout Europe’s 5 biggest leagues, with the (admittedly pretty obvious) outcomes that the UK is by far the most costly place to watch football.

A median season ticket is £516 and an average single match £28.50, far outstripping say, the German Bundesliga, which averages £159 for a season and £13 per game. Bayern Munich, who recurrently sell out their Allianz Enviornment stadium charge just £125 for a standing season ticket behind the goals. Famously, their club president Uli Hoeneß has said that FC Bayern “do not think the fans are like cows to be milked. Football has acquired to be for eachbody. That is the most important difference between us and England.” This isn’t restricted to the highest leagues, either: the cheapest regular season ticket in the entire English league system, at Charlton Athletic, remains to be more expensive than watching Bayern Munich or Barcelona.

The larger query about who football is for has been carried out to loss of life, and the reply that almost all have come to is that it isn’t for the working classes. Chelsea FC blogger Tim Rolls has extensively charted the rising costs at his club towards the typical weekly wage of somebody in London, discovering that in 1960, tickets at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge cost 1% of the typical weekly wage, which rose to virtually three% by 1990 and in 2010 stood at 10%.

While clubs have carried out a league-wide £30 value cap for away fans, there are not any limits to what they can cost their own supporters.

“My home season ticket costs £880 for 19 Premier League games,” says Tim of the costs as we speak at Chelsea. “I am additionally an away season-ticket holder and the 19 away tickets cost me £560 (the £30 worth cap is useful right here), plus Southampton give an additional £10 off as part of their sponsorship deal with Virgin Media. So PL liverpool tickets for sale value £1,440 a season.”

“I reckon my away travel most likely prices around £900 p.a., which assumes no overnight stops. Chelsea do run subsidized £10 coaches to all away games outside London and £10 trains when there isn’t any suitable service train, although the availability of those will depend on the not-very-helpful train companies. My travel to house games is free as I’m over 60, otherwise it could in all probability cost around £250.”

If the core constituency of the English game is no longer the working class, then it begs the query of who it is for. The answer to that’s, evidently, the TV audiences at home, who fund the majority of the sport by way of Pay TV subscriptions and the advertising income derived from the flexibility to market directly to them. This is replicated in club finances across nearly all levels: Manchester United derive 20% of their earnings from matchday income – a summation of ticket prices, hospitality and meals/beverage – while round twice that comes from TV and yet more from business deals.