Going to games just the ticket for fans as prices on decrease

Several Yorkshire clubs are lowering the cost for football supporters to watch their team this season, with season tickets offering the best savings. Amitai Winehouse reports.

Price of football.

In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes and an increase in the price of watching football.

The country’s collective consciousness views watching football before the 1990s as being as simple as turning up at the turnstile, handing over a reasonable sum of money and taking a place on the terrace.

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Since the dawn of the Premier League in 1992 and the switch to all-seater stadiums, what was once regarded as the working class game has become increasingly expensive, with a knock on effect on support in the lower tiers and the atmosphere at stadiums.

However, the trend seems to have been reversed somewhat this season for those fans who purchase season tickets, according to the BBC Sport Price of Football study.

This is reflected in Yorkshire, where most prices have dropped or been frozen.

Middlesbrough, Leeds United, Rotherham United and Bradford City have all lowered the price of their cheapest season ticket.

However, some outliers have increased their season ticket prices. Hull City, relegated from the Premier League last season, increased the cost of the cheapest season ticket from £501 to £531.

Accordingly, average attendances in the ground have dropped to 17,205 from 23,557.

Attendances have fallen even further than the last time Hull were relegated. Between 2010 and 2011, they only fell from 24,390 to 21,169, compared to the drop of over 6,000 fans this time around.

Ryan Kerr of the Hull City Supporters’ Trust believes the increase in cost has made a difference.

He told The Yorkshire Post: “It is very expensive to watch City and it has gone up an awful lot in the last couple of years.

“There was a huge price rise at the start of the 2013/14 season and even this summer, having been relegated to the 
Championship, the prices went up again.

“We’ve lost several thousand fans compared to the last time we got relegated from the Premier League, and whilst some of that is obviously a result of the poor relationship between the fans and the club’s owners, the ticket prices are undoubtedly another big reason for it.

“A price rise upon relegation seems to have been the final straw for many.”

Leeds, once regarded as the bastions of high ticket pricing in the Championship, have dropped their season ticket prices considerably this year.

Their cheapest season ticket now costs £398, compared with £445 last season. There has also been a fall from £688 to £587 for the price of the most expensive season ticket.

However, like every team in the county except Huddersfield Town, Leeds have increased the base cost of purchasing a ticket on a matchday.

It is not possible to purchase a ticket to watch Leeds for less than £26 on the day of a game, and can cost as much as £42. There is a £5 surcharge for purchasing a ticket on the day of a match.

In the case of a category A game, every ticket available to away fans costs at least £37. That comes in contrast to the Twenty’s Plenty campaign organised by the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF), which is campaigning for all clubs to not charge more than £20 for away fans.

This has come under criticism from the Leeds United Supporters’ Trust.

A spokesperson for the Trust said: “Season ticket prices have reduced from the ridiculously high levels that defined the Ken Bates era at Leeds United and we look forward to that continuing.

“We do, however, still have concerns about the price of match tickets, even taking into account some concessions made on children’s ticket prices recently.

“It seems that the over-use of Category A and B designations is having an effect on attendance levels, as is the constant changing of dates and times to suit television scheduling.

“We would rather see Elland Road packed out and bouncing at home games than looking half empty.

“We are fully committed to the FSF’s Twenty’s Plenty campaign. Over the years we have grown used to almost all Leeds United away games being designated as Category A and thus feel if the club could get reciprocal agreements with the other 23 Championship clubs that would be a massive gain for our loyal away following.”

Huddersfield fans have benefitted from the cheapest matchday ticket in the top five divisions of English football, with some games costing only £10 to attend.

Sheffield Wednesday came under criticism for having the highest matchday ticket in the division, at £52, but that price bracket has not been used, even for the upcoming cup game against Arsenal.

In contrast to 2012 when Leeds had the most expensive programme in the country, costing £4, no team in the county now charges more than £3. Huddersfield have kept the cost of their programme at £2.

Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey said: “Football League clubs continue to offer compelling football at a price that is affordable, particularly for those buying season tickets who are rewarded for their loyalty and financial commitment with the best value ticket offerings.

“The significant numbers of season ticket holders at matches, along with ever-greater numbers of young fans, has resulted in the average price paid per paying spectator being as low as £14 across the League’s 72 clubs.

“Clearly others, such as adults and those paying on the day, will usually pay more. Clubs therefore need to ensure that their ticketing policies provide the right balance between fair value for supporters and generating the income that sustains on-field performance, which overwhelmingly they do.”