Need to Know: The damage - Rachelle Thackray examines the cost of following your favourite football team

The lightweights of the world believe that a football match is nothing more than a Saturday afternoon out and the occasional throaty roar - "C'mon you re-eds!" Any dedicated football fan, of course, knows that the match of the day is just one aspect of an obsessive, lifelong love affair. It ain't cheap being a true fan: Nick Hornby's favourites Arsenal, for instance, can expect to play in the Charity Shield at Wembley, and at least a dozen games in the FA Cup and European Champions League, with travel this season to France, Greece and the Ukraine. In addition, many club ticket prices have nearly doubled since 1994: the legacy of some transfers of more than pounds 10m and many players earning at least pounds 10,000 a week. The following is a rundown of all the essentials for the season, August this year to May 1999 - for those who will not settle for going down the pub and watching it on satellite.

Sign up Arsenal season ticket (includes entrance to all home Premier League games plus seven Cup matches), pounds 806 for upper tiers (pounds 182 cheap rate or pounds 269 for North Bank stands); scarf pounds 6.95; hot dog/burger and Coke for each of 40 matches, pounds 160; Underground travel (for London-based fan) to Highbury for 25 home matches, pounds 87.50.

The kit Copy of Hornby's Fever Pitch, pounds 5.99 and Tony Adams's autobiography, Addicted, pounds 16.99; film and developing to preserve golden moments, pounds 40; six copies of soccer magazine FourFourTwo for in-depth star profiles and pin-ups, pounds 16.20; occasional copies of fanzines The Gooner, Two One Up Three Two Down and The Highbury High, pounds 15; the latest Arsenal strip, pounds 68.97; bag and baseball cap, pounds 34.49; club football, pounds 14.50.

Half-time Trip round the Arsenal museum, pounds 2.50; tour of the stadium, pounds 2.

Play away Travelling costs to several away matches in UK, pounds 150; travel to see Arsenal in one of its European cup matches, eg in the Ukraine, pounds 300; tickets to away matches, pounds 200.

Follow-through Video of Arsenal's best 1997/98 moments to provide consolation following defeats, pounds 13.99; celebratory/consolatory beers, pounds 800, drunk from plastic Arsenal mug, pounds 2.50; Saturday/Sunday newspaper to check on the opposition pounds 20; Good Old Arsenal CD for post-match bathtime, pounds 11.99.

Total: pounds 2,775.57

(Sources: Arsenal FC/Steve Beauchampe)

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