Last week, BBC published their annual Price of Football results for 2014. The statistics cover 207 clubs in British football, including those in all four tiers of the SPFL.
It’s no surprise that the cost of football has risen at a significant rate over the last twenty years. The increasing power and influence of television broadcasters and commercial partners has taken football in a new direction in terms of how it is positioned as a product and to whom.
The general consensus amongst supporters is that they are being priced out of the sport – a sport that they have helped to create and strengthen, through both supporting their respective teams and the financial impact they have on the game in general.
In Scotland, despite both Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian being relegated from the Premiership, the price of attending a top flight match hasn’t altered drastically. The prices of cheapest available match-day tickets and season-tickets have only risen slightly since the same survey from 2013.
The Championship however has – rather unsurprisingly – seen a sharp increase in cost to supporters. Significantly in part to playing host to three of the biggest and most popular clubs in the country – Rangers, Hearts and Hibs. This year has seen a 12% rise in the average cost of the cheapest season ticket available. The price of the least expensive match day ticket has also rise, by 8%.
Every Championship club – other than Hearts, Hibs and Rangers – have increased at least one of their prices for tickets in the categories of cheapest match-day, most expensive match-day and both categories of season tickets.
In League One, eight out of 10 clubs continue to offer a match-day experience – a ticket, programme, pie and a cup of tea – for a combined cost of under £20.
At the bottom of the league pyramid in League Two, some clubs are offering special season ticket rates. Elgin City provides the option of a family season ticket for £160, which includes an adult and three children. At East Stirlingshire, supporters under the age of 16 pay their age for a season ticket.
Despite some of the criticisms of the pricing of modern day football, it is worth noting commendable efforts from clubs to increase accessibility to games in Scotland. Over the years Stirling Albion, Albion Rovers and Livingston (among many others) have all undertaken innovative pricing schemes to attract a wider ranging audience to their games.
Many feel football in Britain should follow the approach of German football, with further fan involvement in the governance of the game, cheaper tickets for all and a greater fan experience with the allowance of alcohol and safe standing.
Certainly the aspect of supporter ownership has been shown to increase spending at clubs. Research by Supporters Direct showed that clubs felt that fans were more minded to spend money on a match day at club owned facilities (where they existed) because they owned a tangible stake in the club. This raises the question of whether the issue of pricing would be become less contentious if fans were more involved in the decision making processes at club.
We asked followers of @ScottishFans to let us know what they thought of the price of following football in this country. Here’s a selection of the feedback;
@ScottishFans nothing new being said but nothing will change other than it getting more expensive and less value for money
— Scott (@full_of_spies) October 15, 2014
@ScottishFans would’ve prefer to check how much each Scottish club spends on upgrading customer facilities per paying fan.
— Daisy Raikonnen (@SkwerrWheels) October 15, 2014
— Edward Anderson (@eddyman00) October 15, 2014
What are your thoughts? Has football become too expensive for the average supporter to enjoy? Do supporters even care? What will it take to see prices dropping to a reasonable level?
Source – BBC Sport