Football clubs putting overseas fans first and the high costs of season tickets are among the biggest issues affecting the game, according to the biggest national survey of fans in five years by the Football Supporters’ Federation.
Almost 8,500 fans took part in our National Supporters’ Survey – last held in 2012 – to give their thoughts on the state of football ahead of the new season.
- Two-thirds of fans think top-flight clubs are focusing too much on their global brand
- Only one-third feels their club cares about them and their views
- Nine out of 10 want supporter representation on their club’s board
The findings reveal that only one-third (32%) of fans feels their club cares about them and their views, while more than two-thirds (68%) said Premier League teams focussed too much on their global brand to the detriment of their local fan base. This is despite the fact 51% of fans surveyed live within 15 miles of the stadium.
69% of fans say they started supporting their team because it was their local club. More than three-quarters (78%) also said it was important their club had local players representing it.
90% of fans want a greater say in how their club is run and believe there should be supporter representation on their club’s board.
Eight out of 10 fans (77%) keep up-to-date via their club’s official website and 72% follow official social media accounts for the latest news.
Ticket prices still a concern
The price of tickets is still a cause for concern, almost one-fifth (17%) said they probably or definitely won’t be renewing their season ticket for the forthcoming season.
More than one-third (37%) said they were attending fewer games now than they used to, with expensive ticket costs being one of the most cited reasons (36%) alongside work and family commitments (37%).
Seven out of 10 fans want the FSF to continue to campaign on ticket prices.
The FSF has worked with Virgin Media on the Twenty’s Plenty campaign, which calls on clubs to reduce the cost of away fans’ tickets to £20. Virgin Media, the official sponsor of Southampton FC, continues to subsidise the cost of away supporters to St Mary’s Stadium, and capped tickets for all away Premier League fans for a series of matches held in April and May to £20.
Malcolm Clarke, chair of the FSF, said: "Fans understand that many clubs are now global brands. However, these results show that the majority of supporters think this can be to the detriment of local support.
"The survey also shows a worrying disconnect between clubs and fans. Thanks to social media football clubs have never before communicated with their fanbases so easily – yet the majority of fans do not think their clubs care about them.
"Supporters want their clubs to listen on other issues too, be that ticket prices, financial matters and safe standing. Clubs must commit to genuine engagement both online and in the real world via processes to which the Premier League and EFL have signed up."
Better match-day experiences
Fans think stadiums are more inclusive places to enjoy a game, with 75% agreeing that grounds were more welcoming for ethnic minorities than 10 years ago. That figure rose to 80% among those who identified as being from a minority group.
Almost 80% said they would be happy taking a young family to a match and more than half (55%) would like to see more family zones, fanzones and activities outside stadiums.
Safe standing continues to be a popular choice with 80% of fans saying they believed this was a key issue on which the FSF should continue to campaign.
Thanks to Action Images for the picture used in this article.