Thursday, 16 October 2014

Price of Football

From the BBC

The Government is "really concerned" about the rising cost of tickets, and has asked for football clubs to review their pricing.

Minister for Sport Helen Grant told the BBC: "I feel clubs really must not take their fans for granted."

The average price of the cheapest tickets across English football has risen at almost twice the rate of the cost of living since 2011.

BBC Sport's Price of Football study analysed prices at 207 clubs. The average price of the cheapest match-day ticket from the Premier League to League Two in England is now £21.49.

The problem here is that football is basically an arms race, with the fans that pay the most (or the teams with the richest sugar daddy owners) getting the best players and winning the trophy. So, if fans pay a bit more at one club, the fans at the next club either have to pay more, or lose.

"I can see why fans are cross. I'm cross," said Grant. "Fans are the lifeblood of the game, without the fans we won't have football the way we know it. To take a family of four to a Premier League match now you're talking about £130, and that's before petrol, parking, a programme, hot dogs, burgers and a drink."

Well, no.

The game is surviving at those prices. If people stopped going because they were appalled at the price and only willing to pay £100, the prices would fall to £100. All the players would have to take a haircut on their salaries (so Wayne Rooney would get £250K/wk instead of £300k/wk) and at the top clubs, every seat is full.

Back in the early 80s, the best players were earning something like £100k/year. You had full grounds then, excellent players like Glenn Hoddle and Gary Lineker. And they probably still collected a lot of the clubs' money, it's just that the clubs didn't have so much.

Justin King, former chief executive of British supermarket Sainsbury's, feels clubs could fail if they do not meet the needs of supporters.
"Any business that thinks it can simply rely upon the loyalty of its customers, regardless of how they treat them, in the end will fail," King, a Manchester United supporter, told the BBC.

But football teams can. They aren't like Sainsbury's where your loyalty lasts a couple of weeks of not being able to get ciabatta or chicken breasts. Even movie and music fans will only give performers 2 or 3 duds before they stop buying from them. But football fans are often for life, will keep on paying to see "their team" even after it's been rubbish for years. That's why don't care about most disgruntled fans. They know they'll keep coming back for more.

9 comments:

Ian Hills said...

"Football fans have complained that taxes keep rising, and are therefore finding it increasingly difficult to afford tickets."

Mark Wadsworth said...

Exactly.

Every year or two I look at Deloittes football report that says that total club income and total player wages have gone up by the same amount.

These people throw their hands in the air and say "Oh terrible! Wages up from 80% to 81% this year! When will it end?"

They don't understand the law of rent.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Actually, the government could 'do' something.

Simply cap ticket prices for Premier League games at £20 a game, Championship at £15 and so on.

So club income falls by £x million and player wages fall by the same amount.

Internationally, our clubs would do pretty badly, but people can still support their local team.

(whether the rental element would just go to ticket touts instead of players is a separate topic)

Ben Jamin' said...

Stick a 50% tax per ticket. Proceeds to school sports facilities, or some other (un)worthy cause.

I'm surprised the EU haven't already done something like this.

It seems an open goal.

L fairfax said...

But why is it a lot cheaper in Spain?

The Stigler said...

L Fairfax,

Is it? Show me an apples to apples comparison of the average match day ticket for a seat between a premiership and a Spanish or German club for a normal league game.

There's quite a lot of cherry picking in the media, like referring to prices of tickets for Borussia Dortmund, most of which are standing rather than seated.

Physiocrat said...

Football clubs are nothing of the sort - this is part of the mass entertainment industry, trading on local loyalties.

DBC Reed said...

@TS
There are plenty of reliable web-sites showing comparative figures for European /UK football tickets.Try BBC Sport: Price of football in Europe revealed.
The reference to cheaper tickets for standing is a bit of an own goal on your part. Most fans' groups, as well as trying to get representation on club and national boards also campaign for "safe standing" which provides, I believe, tip-up seats for emergency use which fold back flat vertically so as not to impede standing.
In my experience ,( my son is involved in the campaign as a local sports journalist), the fans have made more headway politically with their demands in a year, than we land taxers have made in three decades.
And both groups are facing the same problem :an entrenched bloc determined to self harm by paying too much for housing and too much for match tickets. These people need paternalistic political help not least because their bizarre behaviour threatens to destroy the economies they are determined to dominate. Anybody paying full-whack rents or mortgages and for Premier League season tickets out of an average wage is in real economic trouble but has so little disposable income left that they reduce the demand in the whole of the economy we all depend on.

The Stigler said...

DBC,

"There are plenty of reliable web-sites showing comparative figures for European /UK football tickets.Try BBC Sport: Price of football in Europe revealed."

Well, this year's shows the cheapest prices at various clubs for 2014. Although the 2013 study showed a comparison of prices which showed the average was £22.34 compared to £27.10 in the UK. Hardly a dramatic difference.

"The reference to cheaper tickets for standing is a bit of an own goal on your part. Most fans' groups, as well as trying to get representation on club and national boards also campaign for "safe standing" which provides, I believe, tip-up seats for emergency use which fold back flat vertically so as not to impede standing."

How is it an own goal? I'm just stating a fact. Capacity is limited, so standing means more people can see a match.