Rising costs of following football could price fans out

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FSF Chairman Malcolm Clarke has warned fans are being priced out of football, after a survey revealed the average supporter spends more than £1,000 a year following their team.

Virgin Money polled 2,000 football supporters across the country, and found fans, across all four divisions, spent around £1,080 on tickets, merchandise, programmes, food, alcohol and travel during 2007. And an incredible one in eight Premier League supporters fork out £3,000 a year on match tickets alone!

Figures suggest the cost of attending matches has risen by 9.28% in the last two years while the consumer price index (a measure of inflation) has gone up by just 4.9%.

The rising costs of tickets, petrol and replica shirts the chief reasons behind such a significant increase, and FSF Chairman Malcolm Clarke said: “A time will come soon when football will look around at all the empty spaces in the stands and ask itself, 'Where did all that fans go?’ That is a real worry for future.”

“With the huge new broadcasting deal what possible excuse can there be for making football even more unaffordable. In the 1991/2 season the cheapest seat at Arsenal was £10. In today's money that is £15.44 or £16.70 adjusted for rising wages. But the cheapest seat at Arsenal this season is £32. That goes up to a whopping £46 for the big European and derby matches as well as fixtures against Manchester United and Liverpool.

“How can football possibly justify more than doubling ticket prices in real terms at a time when the game is swimming in television money? Clubs, particularly those in the Premier League, who have put them up this season like Manchester United, Spurs and West Ham United should hang their heads in shame.”

Clarke added: “Many upporters are simply not blessed bottomless pockets - and he clubs we applaud are those clubs taking action to bring down ticket prices, and we also welcome the Football League's 'Fans of the Future' initiative.”

“It was great to see Bradford City, for example, win the Football League’s Perform Best Fan Marketing Campaign award this week, for slashing their ticket prices to just £138, the lowest in the League.

“As a direct result, attendances at Valley Parade have increased from 8,694 in League One to 13,765 in League Two, a division lower. And several other clubs are believed to be considering a similar scheme for next year.”