Football and Money: Is it Now Too Expensive to be a Football Fan?

After the national team’s success in the 2018 World Cup, this week English football has reached a new high in it’s quest to reinstate itself as the top footballing nation. Following a dramatic week of continental action, four English sides – Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Arsenal – find themselves competing in the finals of both UEFA club competitions. It is the first time all four finalists in Europe’s top two competitions have come from one nation. So surely this is an amazing time to be an English football fan?

You could be forgiven for holding that viewpoint. English teams are making history in Europe. Manchester City and Liverpool are coming up to the climax of a Premier League title fight for the ages. Gareth Southgate’s England side have just reached a World Cup semi-final, and seem to be improving with every game. Some of the hottest prospects in world football are English. But this level of success doesn’t come without negative repercussions for the fans.

Everyone knows that football is nothing without the fans. After all, the fans are the ones who create atmosphere at football games – they pay for tickets, they pay for TV subscriptions. But have we now reached a point where it is too expensive to be a fan?

Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur compete for the final of the Champions League on June 1st. The match will take place at the esteemed Santiago Bernabeau stadium in Madrid, a ground with a capacity of 68,000, but both sides will share a total of 33,226 seats – under half the stadiums capacity. This has resulted in ticket prices to reach astronomical levels, as fans desperately try and ensure they can witness their beloved team play in the final of the biggest club competition in the world. On the ticket resale website – Ticketgum.com, tickets are on sale for up to £5,500.

In it’s sister competition, the Europa League, Arsenal and Chelsea fans have been allocated a total of 12,000 seats in Azerbaijan’s Baku Olympic Stadium – a ground with a capacity of 68,700.

Chelsea and Arsenal fans allocation is a tiny percentage of the Baku Olympic Stadium

However, it’s not just ticket prices that fans have to put up. Flights and hotel prices have been massively boosted ahead of both games. For example, a flight on May 31 with British Airways costs £658 to Madrid – whereas travelling just three days earlier costs £60

These prices are the pinnacle of years of football ticket cost increases. For example, the average ticket for an Arsenal home Premier League game is now £56, compared to £40.47 which is how much it cost in the 2008/09 season. 

Tottenham Hotspur fan Kai Whitbread is one of those who will travel out to Madrid to watch his team play in the final. His ticket for the game has set him back £300. “The amount I have to pay to get to these games is ridiculous. It’s not just this game, but all games I go to nowadays tend to cost me most of my earnings.

“Gone are the days when the average person can afford to watch their team play. All the clubs care about these days are making profits, not providing good service for the poor people who just want to watch the clubs they have supported for years.”

However, Kai stated that he has looked at ways to avoid paying so much money. 

“I’m thinking of driving [from England] to a city nearby to Madrid, to avoid the crazy flight and hotel prices. It is a lot more hassle but is completely necessary due to paying so much for the ticket alone.”