In the week that has seen the price of football in England revealed by a BBC study, it is safe to say the statistics don’t look too good if you are a football fan.
It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that statistics show poorly for us Hammers. Having been a season ticket holder for five years now, I have seen at first hand how prices have risen and fluctuated.
As a student and a ‘young Adult’, I paid around £350 per season for my first four years as a Season Ticket Holder at Band 4 in the Bobby Moore Lower. However, entering my fifth year, the prices were hiked up by nearly double after becoming an adult – £675 for the same seat. It was with great regret myself and my friends decided not to renew, we simply couldn’t afford it.
Onto this season, looking at the statistics, it shows that the Irons cheapest seat (£617.50) is 20% above the average season ticket cost in the Premier League and the most expensive (£955) is 8% higher. Even more worrying is the most expensive match-day ticket at £95 is SIXTY-EIGHT percent above the average price.
Having lost my ‘football fix’ and with it the last opportunity to enjoy the Boleyn with my Dad, the person who, in my mother’s words, ‘brainwashed’ me into supporting this great club – the chance of getting a new season ticket was too good to turn down. This time round my seat cost an eye-watering £860.
It is safe to say, football isn’t the working class man’s game anymore, and whilst I understand a football club is also a business, it often feels like club owners simply take fans’ loyalty for granted. As an example, the chance to ‘milk’ our last season at our famous old ground does makes great business sense, but you can’t help but feel someone is taking advantage of you.
A quick look at a standard match-day ticket for our upcoming home fixture against Chelsea, a top value seat will cost you a mammoth £95. So it’s Chelsea, a ‘top’ club and a London derby, but that’s no excuse in my opinion. And imagine if a father wanted to take his child – an equivalent seat is a whopping £55. Throw in travel costs, a programme and some sweets and pop for junior and you won’t see much change from £200!
It seems as though the pull of London allows clubs to charge these ridiculous prices. Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs and the Irons are all in the top five for the most expensive ‘cheapest season ticket’. Whilst you can argue the average ‘city worker’ can afford these prices, you cannot justify having to pay £150 for two match-day tickets for any one game.
Meanwhile, in Germany, a football fan can enjoy the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Arjen Robben and Mario Gotzé at Bayern Munich for just £559.71 per season and £104.48 a year for a ‘cheap seat’. It comes as no surprise that when the German champions travel to London next week, they plan to make a stand against Arsenal’s ticket prices by boycotting the first five minutes of their Champions League encounter at the Emirates.
In Spain, you can watch Leo Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar for £73.88 at the Nou Camp a season for the cheapest seat and £614.19 per season for the best seats in the house. It makes you wonder why should I be spending £860 to be watching West Ham United. It is, on the face of it, truly baffling, but it is in your blood and you have to be there.
There is a lot we can learn from Europe, Marseille and Anderlecht for example also offer affordable tickets at £7.46 and £3.73 respectively for their cheapest match-day seat. Watching the Hammers meanwhile, on average, will set you back a cool £25 for the cheapest seat in the house – for limited games only.
To add even more clarity to this argument that the Hammers and other Premier League clubs should look to take a more sensible and affordable view on their pricing, I took part in the ‘Price of Football Calculator’. If you include the price of food, programmes, replica shirts and TV Packages, my year supporting West Ham United will cost me £2119.49 and that is without any planned away days.
How any chairman can justify charging the average fan that price to watch the club they love week in, week out astounds me. What frustrates a lot of people is that fans are perceived as ‘customers’ and not supporters by boardrooms across the country. They know that we cannot shop around like supermarket shoppers, they have us hooked and they, at times, abuse our loyalty.
It is certainly something that boards of clubs around the country should think about, and it is difficult to place a finger on what as fans we can do to make a difference. The only thing we can do is support the ’20 is plenty’ campaign, the only thing that we could do is boycott games, but we all know in reality that isn’t going to happen. It is crucial we make a stand against these ludicrous prices though. With these prices being put in the public eye it certainly adds fuel to this controversial fire.
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