Football Ticket Prices & Empty Seats

England empty seats at Wembley Stadium

Football analysis can become awash with meaningless stats. Players can play great balls into dangerous areas or even clever reverse passes, but if players aren’t making the right runs, to a one-dimensional blogger it’s a misplaced pass. Likewise, a player’s movement and runs could be constantly causing problems to the opposition, taking players away that creates space for others, yet the I-pad coach is more concerned with touches on the ball, which in turn leads to bad decisions, that only the statto that can’t see the bigger picture defends. Andre Villas-Boas’ withdrawal of Aaron Lennon at home to Manchester United last season, Spurs’ most dangerous player on the day, is a case in point. Much more significant football stats were released this week though, with the BBC’s Price of Football Study.

It shows that football ticket prices across the English game have risen by 13% in the last three years, almost double the cost of living (6.8%), with year-on-year rises over three times the rate of inflation. Now, at the top of the English game, gate receipts are no longer the main source of income and as the Football Fans a Federation say in that piece, clubs can afford to reduce prices, which as well as being the socially right thing to do, would also make sense in attracting people who can also spend money elsewhere with the club on a match-day while making a stadium with full houses more attractive to sponsors and a global TV companies, who have ploughed fortunes into the game already. While the figures show premier league attendances have held, the eyes tell a different story, with empty seats more common now than five years ago at most grounds.

Holders of pre-paid season tickets have paid a high price for tickets but are getting a better average price than an occasional punter, as the report says. There are no fanciful administration and booking fees, which often have to be printed at the buyers own expense. As a consequence, rather than watching over-priced fare, in grounds that serve up instant scalding coffee at scorching prices, people decide to miss games that are easily accessible to watch elsewhere, if desired.

The national team is a good example. The FA, having made their primary position in the game landlords of the new Wembley Stadium, appear to be prepared to let England go on the road again after the ten year debenture is up, realising they struggle to fill the ground as the football fans have been milked dry and are voting with their feet; instead the English Football Association are chasing the coin from American a Football, which brings in big revenues, with people willing to pay exorbitant prices and spend money on super-sized tat at the ground for an annual novelty, in addition to the broadcasting and sponsorship for a touring game.

Meanwhile, to keep trying to attract fans to England games they are, perversely, offering more loyalty points than for away games, while giving away thousands of free tickets to boost numbers and keep the merchandise tills ringing. Free or cheaper tickets are the way to go, and while there were thousands of empty seats at Wembley last Thursday, the attendance was one of the biggest in Europe in a week of qualifiers, spread across the days for TV audiences. The longer it takes club sides to realise that, the more empty seats they’ll have.

MG

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