Published on November 13th, 2012 | by Daniel
Greed Is Good: Reflecting On The Price Of Football
“Greed is good,” so said the infamous villain and Wall Street broker Gordon Gekko in the 1987 film Wall Street. It is a slogan which seems to go down quite well with the assorted chairman and executives throughout English football, if the BBC’s recent ‘price of football’ survey is anything to go by. Over the past twelve months, the average cost of the cheapest adult ticket available in grounds across England and Scotland has risen by an eye-watering 11.7% to £21.24.
It’s a figure which doesn’t sit comfortably with fans, for the survey doesn’t just include the Premier League, well known for its excess, but the entire football league in England and Scotland as well as the Conference and the Women’s Super League. It seems that most clubs are milking their own supporters for all their worth, for some it may well be for self-preservation, but sadly for most greed is what drives the big rises in ticket prices.
So let’s have a look at some of the damning figures to come out of the report. No surprises that Arsenal come out as the most expensive club in the country with their cheapest adult season ticket coming in at an eye-watering £985. Admittedly this does include seven cup games but for a club who haven’t won a trophy for seven years, it’s a figure set to infuriate fans. Wigan are by far the cheapest in the Premier League with their cheapest season ticket coming in at a reasonable £255.
Across the survey, there are figures which stand out as being ridiculous. Southend United are charging at least £350 per adult for a year of League 2 football. While a special mention has to go to Hartlepool United, who are bucking the trend with their cheapest season ticket a mere £155 making it easily the cheapest ticket in the Football League. I could go on but I think you have the picture by now (let’s not get started on the price of tea or the humble pie at football grounds).
In what has been the longest recession in living memory, the fact that clubs continue to treat their fans so badly is at best insulting. From hard working families to penny-pinching students everyone who comes to watch the game deserves better. A prominent MP recently said that it was time for fans to start boycotting grounds to protest against ticket rises. Maybe that would wake up Chairmen across the land because without supporters the football clubs are nothing.
Football is in danger of creating a ‘lost generation of supporters’. Fan surveys suggest that the average age of people attending matches is steadily increasing. This is a situation that needs to be quickly addressed before it becomes too damaging. Compared to other European Leagues especially the Bundesliga, Premier League prices look even more extortionate. Borussia Dortmund fans protested after tickets reached the €20 barrier a couple of years ago, the disparity between the English and German top-flight is truly staggering.
Brian Clough was a vocal critic of broadcasting television games even going as far as saying that ‘television was killing the game.’ The rise of the armchair supporter has been noticeable in recent years, with the options available on television and the price of tickets, it’s understandable why this phenomenon has grown.
The arrogance of the owners to keep on increasing the prices because people are so desperate to see their beloved team and will keep paying is very grating. With the TV money flowing through the game, it would surely be fair to cut squeezed supporters some slack? You only have to watch Match of the Day or the Football League Show to see the swathes of empty seats caused by the price rises. The growing success of Non-League Day shows fans’ unrest towards the inflated football league.
Empty, soulless stadiums deprived of atmosphere suits no-one. But yet this is the situation that we are getting increasingly close to. Surely there will be a breaking point and a change in culture, or else the game in this country is in danger of dying. Something has to give doesn’t it?
‘Liam McConville writes for The Daisy Cutter website and the upcoming English Football Magazine available through Itunes. You can follow him on Twitter via @McConville92.’