One in seven season ticket holders not renewing

One in seven season ticket holders will not renew for the 2011/12 season according to the Virgin Money’s Football Fans’ Inflation Index. In the Premier League almost one in three regular match-goers who do not have season tickets plan on cutting back on the number of games they attend. The Index also shows the average “match basket” cost has soared by 18% in the past year.

Across the leagues 13% of season ticket holders are not renewing for the 2011/12 season while 18% of fans who regularly buy tickets for games will cut back, rising to a high of 31% in the Premier League (see table below). At Manchester United, who have angered some fans with £1 per match price rises across the board, as many as 28% of season ticket holders claim they will not renew while 49% of those who regularly buy tickets will cut back.

Elsewhere in the Premier League around 22% of Arsenal season ticket holders say they will not renew next season. Earlier this month Arsenal’s chief executive Ivan Gazidis had admitted “ordinary fans are being priced out of live football” in a letter to the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust. Other clubs facing high levels of cancellations include West Ham United with 30% not renewing and Aston Villa where 27% are not renewing. By contrast just 4% of Liverpool fans are not renewing.

Virgin Money’s own Football Fans’ Inflation Index shows the average match day cost has soared 18% since last year – more than four times the 4% inflation rate for the UK economy as a whole in March 2011. The match day cost is now £101.04 compared with £84.89 for the same period last year. The rise has been driven partly by price rises across the economy with petrol and food costs climbing but average ticket prices across all English leagues have climbed 10% to £24.86 since 2006.

Grant Bather, spokesman for Virgin Money, said: “Average attendances in the Premier League remain high with clubs regularly selling the ground out, but there are signs of empty spaces at many games and average attendances across all clubs over the season is around 90%. In the lower leagues it’s the same story and the rising cost of going to games is having a major effect. Of course there are always new fans and all manner of reasons for people cutting back but cost is the big driver behind 13% of all season ticket holders not renewing.”

Malcolm Clarke, Chair of the Football Supporters’ Federation commented: “Football fans face the same economic difficulties, including redundancies, short-time working, soaring petrol costs and wages not keeping up with inflation, as everyone else. In this situation it would not be surprising if many of them are forced to cut back on watching the game they love.

“The tragic paradox is that the football industry still has huge sums of money coming into it at the top of the game, mostly through media rights. But too much of it stays at the top and too much of it is used on ridiculously high player wages, rather than on helping its loyal customers through these difficult times.”

LEAGUE

% OF SEASON TICKET HOLDERS CANCELLING

% OF REGULAR TICKET BUYERS CUTTING BACK ON GAMES

Premier League

15%

31%

Championship

11%

16%

League 1

10%

11%

League 2

14%

17%

 

The Virgin Money Football Fans’ Inflation Index, which measures the real match day costs, shows the average price of going to a live game is heading back to the high of October 2008 when it hit £106.21. Virgin Money’s matchday costs runs every three months and includes a pint of lager, food, a match ticket, a replica shirt and a match programme as well as some travel expenses.

Virgin Money’s Football Fans’ Index has tracked the cost of football since January 2006 and is aimed at helping supporters keep track of the rises and falls in the costs of supporting their team. At the launch of the index in 2006, the match day basket of goods cost £77.95. However the most recent analysis puts the cost at £101.04 - a rise of £23.09.

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