Premier League ticket price rises - what the fans think

“It causes a friction between loyal fans, who will stick with the club through thick and thin, and one-off tourists who want to come to London to watch a Premier League football match. I do get that tourist revenue is attractive, but that risks then cutting off your long term source of regular fans who will come every single week.”

Tottenham fans turning their back on the game; Fulham’s crowd showing yellow cards; Liverpool’s Kop removing their iconic flag displays and Wolves fans calling for boycotts – supporters have been protesting at Premier League ticket prices in their thousands this season.

A BBC Sport fans’ questionnaire on the topic invited Premier League season ticket holders to share their views on the price they pay.

Fifteen of the 20 Premier League clubs had announced their pricing structures for the 2024-25 season when the questionnaire was released.

  • There were 1669 responses and the majority (1494 fans) said they will pay either “slightly more” or “significantly more” for their ticket next season.

  • Despite that, almost half of those who responded (782 fans) said their season ticket price is “fair”; 472 fans said it was an “unfair” price; 401 said their ticket represented “good value”.

  • More than half respondents (907) felt the quality of facilities such as food kiosks, toilets and stadium infrastructure did not reflect the price they pay.

Supporters were also asked to select one of four statements that best reflects their club’s approach to season ticket holders.

  • 490 supporters said “My club looks after its season ticket holders with fair pricing structures.”

  • 506 fans, almost a third, selected: “My club prioritises the needs of corporate and one-off ticket buyers over season ticket holders.”

However, many respondents also said they could understand price rises during a period of economic uncertainty.

The research was carried out before Wolves released their prices, which are higher than last season and have prompted a lot of anger from their fans.

‘Friction between loyal fans and tourists’

 

Fulham fans have held up yellow cards around Craven Cottage this season.

The club has the most expensive non-corporate season ticket in the league. At £3,000, those who sit in certain areas of the new Riverside Stand pay more than £150 per home league match.

With its west London location on the banks of the Thames, Fulham has become one of the most popular destinations for global fans looking to see Premier League football during a trip to the capital.

“It causes a friction between loyal fans, who will stick with the club through thick and thin, and one-off tourists who want to come to London to watch a Premier League football match,” said Sammy James, who hosts the Fulhamish podcast.

“I do get that tourist revenue is attractive, but that risks then cutting off your long term source of regular fans who will come every single week.”

Sarah Keig, from the Fulham Lillies supporters group said: “There will be a time when Fulham may find themselves back in the Championship again, and where are the supporters going to be then? [What if] you’ve priced them out, built this beautiful new stand, but nobody can afford to come and watch the football there?”

Fulham do still have season tickets available for less than £500 in certain areas of Craven Cottage. Next season all season tickets, except those in the Riverside Stand, will go up in price by 4%.

 

Fans say loyalty is being ‘exploited’

 

One of the most common responses to the questionnaire from fans was that they feel their loyalty is being exploited by their club.

Nearly two thirds of those who responded, 1,049 in total, said the cost of their season ticket has never made them reconsider buying it.

“Clubs know that if you do not renew your season ticket, someone perhaps in a more fortunate financial position will buy one and you could have to wait a decade, maybe even more, before you are in a position to purchase another one,” said Martin, a Spurs fan.

“As a Forest supporter who paid for a season ticket in 2020-21, when there was no football, and who has had a season ticket for over 30 years, including three years in League One and multiple Championship relegation battles, it feels like that has been forgotten in the attempt to make a few more pounds,” said Simon.

“Matchday revenue is minuscule in comparison to commercial and broadcast revenue so ticket prices should reflect that,” said Joe, a Liverpool fan. “The 2% increase [to season tickets] adds £1m, which is a drop in the ocean to a club like LFC.”

“The club fails to understand that the club has been part of people’s lives for many years,” said Paul, an Arsenal fan. “It is part of our routine for living, not just a day out.”

Many who answered our questionnaire pointed to measures being introduced by clubs to ensure more people in the stadium pay the full price for a ticket.

At Nottingham Forest, all adult prices in the City Ground have increased,while fewer fans will now receive discounted youth tickets.

Fans of some clubs, though, used the questionnaire to highlight initiatives they feel benefit young supporters.

“For a number of years now Everton have tried to lower the average age of season ticket holders by offering heavily discounted prices in bands for young people up to age 24,” said Andy, 60.

 

‘Older fans feel unwanted’

 

At Tottenham, fans from the Save Our Seniors campaign group have protested at the club’s decision to phase out a 50% discount that supporters over the age of 65 currently receive, from the 2025-26 season.

Spurs fan Alan Fisher spoke to BBC Sport at April’s North London derby.

“It is an atrocious decision,” he said. “It’s a message from the club to us as seniors that we’re not wanted, and it is a message to every single fan about how they value loyalty. They don’t.”

“All they want is someone sitting in that seat who is prepared to pay full price.”

In response, Tottenham said the number of senior concession season tickets has increased “four fold” since they left White Hart Lane, and the increase “is clearly not sustainable” and will limit choice for others.

Many Crystal Palace fans were among the 129 respondents who said their ticket will remain the same price in 2024-25. The club announced a price freeze on season tickets in all four stands of their Selhurst Park home.

While at Brentford, although prices are going up slightly, fans have now been allowed to spread the cost of their ticket over 12 months, rather than 10.

However, last week one “appalled” Wolves supporters group called for a boycott of Molineux after significant prices rises in some stands. One example was tickets for under-14s in the Billy Wright Upper increased in price from £105 to £290, a rise of 176%.

Other supporters have felt the impact of last minute kick-off changes for TV scheduling. And for clubs who set rules that mean fans must attend a minimum number of games across the season to keep hold of their ticket, this also creates problems.

Manchester United announced their season ticket holders would have to attend 17 of their 19 home matches for next season, or risk losing the opportunity to renew their ticket. After a response from the fans, this was reduced from 17 to 15, and supporters are able to transfer their ticket back to the club or to another member without losing a match.

“For those with disabilities, old age or mental health issues, personal circumstances can mean that last minute you physically can’t make it,” said Adrian, a United fan.

“It is like saying if I bought a ticket to a concert and couldn’t go, then I would in effect be banned from going again – even though I’ve been a loyal fan for decades.”

 

How the results were collated:

BBC Sport sent the questionnaire to supporters’ groups of the 15 Premier League clubs who had details about their season ticket prices for 2024/25.

The number of respondents from each club varied. The results therefore do not represent the league as a whole.

Fans of Manchester United (548), Brentford (444) and Newcastle (126) were the most common respondents. Sheffield United (8), Liverpool (15) and Fulham (22) received the fewest number of responses.

 

Original article published 28.05.2024 on the BBC Sport website.

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