As we get into the 2023-24 season, it’s become clear that football fans across the country are coming out of a summer of ticket price hikes. Many clubs have raised their season ticket and matchday prices across the board despite the ongoing cost of living crisis.
With all 2023-24 season prices confirmed in the Premier League we can now see 17 of the 20 clubs have announced a price hike, some in double-digit percentages, despite the continued pressures on household budgets.
That number is six more than the 11 teams who hiked prices for last season. Brentford, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur are the only top-flight teams to freeze season ticket prices.
Season ticket prices reach new heights
The most expensive season tickets in the Premier League are to be found in London at Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal. At £3,000 Fulham now have the dearest, non-corporate season ticket in the country which are located in its newly-built riverside stand.
Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur come in second and third with their highest non-corporate season tickets costing £2,025 and £1,783 respectively.
Additionally – Newcastle United, West Ham United, Manchester United and Manchester City all have some non-corporate season tickets passing the £1,000 mark.
Our Premier League network manager Thomas Concanon said: “We have seen a common trend of prices going up, some into the double digits, which immediately raises concerns.
“There’s a cost of living crisis, and football needs to remain affordable. We don’t want to price fans out of going to games, especially when football is awash with money from broadcasting and sponsorship.”
At Fulham, the issue of ticket prices has been of concern for successive seasons and supporter groups have been pushing back against the club’s attempts to continually push the limit on ticket pricing.
Fulham reported the second highest average season ticket price rise of 18%, behind Nottingham Forest’s 20%.
Chair of Fulham Supporters’ Trust Simon Duke says another year of price hikes could be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back” and risks pricing out Craven Cottage’s traditional supporter base.
“We understand the club isn’t a charity, they’re trying to run the business sustainably,” he told us. “The ownership has put money in and they want to bring those losses down each season.
“But on the other hand there has to be some balance – by our rough estimates this will bring in an additional £1-1.5m which pales into insignificance when compared to Premier League broadcast and prize money.”
This time last year, Fulham came into criticism from its own fans again on pricing – when they announced some of the most expensive matchday ticketing in the country. Category A games came in at £65 and £70 to sit behind the goal at Craven Cottage while prices ranged from £70 to £100 in the Riverside and Johnny Haynes Stands, with the exception of £30 tickets in four areas of the family zone.
These are expected to rise again and Fulham are one of the few clubs who decide matchday pricing on a match-by-match basis.
“This will be forcing people to make some difficult decisions,” Simon said. “A lot of members, and supporters generally, can’t stretch to these new prices.
“Ultimately pricing people out is not good for the club long term. There’s been no acknowledgement from the club that prices are hitting some people very hard.”
For those who can’t afford season tickets or are on a waiting list for one, matchday tickets are often the only way of seeing their team.
Sadly there’s little good news here too – for instance, while Tottenham Hotspur may have frozen season tickets, matchday prices have gone up significantly.
Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust (THST), having lobbied the club for a matchday freeze, said: “The club knows this is something THST cannot support and we feel an increase of this magnitude is excessive.
“Our match tickets are already amongst the most expensive in the Premier League and fans should not have to dig further into their pockets when they are already seeing their living standards squeezed by the cost-of-living crisis.”
Amid that rise in pricing, Tottenham Hotspur fans plan to demonstrate outside the club this weekend ahead of their first home game of the season.
And there’s discontent with matchday pricing on the south coast too where Bournemouth chose to increase matchday ticket prices, having already raised their season ticket and concessionary pricing earlier this year.
“It’s difficult to ignore the significant cost increase for our non-season ticket holding supporters,” the Cherries Trust said before the season kicked-off.
The Cherries Trust have also pushed back on categorisation of games at Dean Court, arguing as many supporters do, that they turn out every week to see their team not the opposition. With the new categorisation in place, they estimate matchday tickets for all 19 league home games will be 14% costlier than last season.
“While a rise in prices was expected, we find this move disheartening at a time some of our fan base may be struggling with the cost of living.”
National Supporters Survey – fans concerned
Concern about the cost of living crisis and the cost of going to the game was highlighted in our 2023 National Supporters Survey.
Of those supporters who said they were attending fewer games, 30.3% cited high ticket prices as a factor for their decision.
Additionally, the rising cost of living has had an impact on how much people spend on attending football, with two in five (40.1%) of respondents saying they were already spending less on football due to the current financial climate. One-fifth (21.7%) of fans said they were attending fewer games because of the cost of living.
Of fans who said they were attending less than in previous seasons, the most commonly cited factors are work/family commitments (30.9%), an inability to obtain tickets (22.8%), and changes in financial circumstances (21.9%).
FSA chair Malcolm Clarke said: “The results of our survey reveal the extent to which football fans, as with many millions of others up and down the country, are feeling the pinch due to the rising cost of living.
“We support any initiative which keeps football affordable and available to all.”
In the coming weeks, the FSA will also be looking at the issue of ticket pricing – home and away – in the EFL and beyond.