Does The English Premier League Really Need Fans In The Stadium?

“Football without fans is nothing,” goes the quote from the legendary Celtic manager Jock Stein. Few would argue with him. Anyone who had the misfortune to take a seat via England’s recent 0-zero draw with Croatia might be acutely aware of this: the game was played behind closed doorways as a result of sanctions in opposition to Croatian fans and thus possessed an environment more akin to a morgue than to a major sporting event.

While the significance of football fans to the game is clear, it may not actually be that relevant to the clubs themselves. Regardless of the platitudes handed out by managers, gamers and administrator, the monetary impact of supporters passing by way of turnstiles, buying merchandise and meals and generally being present on the event is ever-lowering as tv cash turns into the driving force behind income. It begs the question of whether fans are literally crucial at all for clubs to make money. According to the balance sheets of half the English Premier League (EPL), they aren’t at all.

The cost of football, and the perceived rise in it, is a constant bugbear for fans. Ticket prices have grown exponentially for fans, and even factoring in numerous price freezes put in place throughout the leagues and caps on the price of away supporter tickets. MyVoucherCodes helpfully compiled the info on this compared season ticket costs and single ticket prices across Europe’s five greatest leagues, with the (admittedly pretty obvious) results that the UK is by far the most expensive place to watch football.

A mean season ticket is £516 and an average single match £28.50, far outstripping say, the German Bundesliga, which averages £159 for a season and £thirteen per game. Bayern Munich, who commonly promote out their Allianz Arena stadium cost just £one hundred twenty five for a standing season ticket behind the goals. Famously, their club president Uli Hoeneß has said that FC Bayern “do not think the fans are like cows to be milked. Football has got to be for everybody. That’s the biggest difference between us and England.” This isn’t restricted to the highest leagues, both: the most cost effective regular season ticket in your complete English league system, at Charlton Athletic, is still more expensive than watching Bayern Munich or Barcelona.

The larger query about who football is for has been completed to death, and the reply that most have come to is that it’s not for the working classes. Chelsea FC blogger Tim Rolls has extensively charted the rising costs at his club towards the average weekly wage of someone in London, finding that in 1960, tickets at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge value 1% of the typical weekly wage, which rose to virtually three% by 1990 and in 2010 stood at 10%.

While clubs have implemented a league-huge £30 value cap for away fans, there are no limits to what they’ll charge their own supporters.

“My house season ticket costs £880 for 19 Premier League games,” says Tim of the costs right this moment at Chelsea. “I’m also an away season-ticket holder and the 19 away tickets cost me £560 (the £30 price cap is useful right here), plus Southampton give an additional £10 off as part of their sponsorship deal with Virgin Media. So PL tickets price £1,440 a season.”

“I reckon my away travel most likely costs round £900 p.a., which assumes no in a single day stops. Chelsea do run subsidized £10 coaches to all away games outside London and £10 trains when there is no suitable service train, although the supply of those will depend on the not-very-useful train companies. My travel to house games is free as I am over 60, in any other case it might in all probability value around £250.”

If the core constituency of the English game is not the working class, then it begs the question of who it’s for. The reply to that is, evidently, the TV audiences at home, who fund the vast majority of the sport by way of Pay TV subscriptions and the advertising revenue derived from the power to market directly to them. This is replicated in club finances throughout virtually all levels: compare manchester united tickets United derive 20% of their revenue from matchday income – a summation of ticket prices, hospitality and meals/beverage – while around twice that comes from TV and yet more from industrial deals.