A far cry from cloth caps and Bovril

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The Independent Online
The redefining of football's image continued yesterday when a survey revealed modern fans to be very different from their cloth-cap, Bovril-supping forefathers. Instead the supporter of the Nineties emerges as comparatively well-off, and prepared to spend large amounts to follow his (or her) team.

The survey of 15,170 fans, the largest ever undertaken, was carried out for the Premier League by the Sir Norman Chester Centre of Football Research at Leicester University, at Premier League grounds last season.

Perhaps the most striking finding was that the fan today is likely to be more affluent than the national average. The survey divides earnings into five categories, and only in the lowest category, those earning under pounds 10,000 pa, is the proportion of football fans lower than the national average (see table). In each of the other categories the proportion of football fans is higher, most markedly in the highest-paid category of pounds 30,000 or above.

The survey also suggests the trend towards affluence is growing, with the proportion of the highest earners rising from 9.6 per cent in 1994 (when a similar, smaller survey was done) to 13.6 in 1995. Though the survey does warn that methodological uncertainties should prevent too much being read into the findings, it does say: "High salary earners are clearly over-represented in the 1995 sample and low earners have fallen substantially, even since the 1994 survey."

A similar trend is found in the backgrounds of fans, with ABC1's making up 71.4 per cent of those interviewed for the 1995 survey, compared with a national average of 59.4.

Somewhat bizarrely Wimbledon, whose football has rarely been likened to champagne, have the highest proportion of rich fans, with 23.6 per cent earning more than pounds 30,000, followed by Chelsea and West Ham, while Leeds have the smallest ratio of high earners, with just 6.3 per cent. Aston Villa have the largest proportion earning less than pounds 10,000, at 31.7 per cent, a finding the authors suggest may be a statistical blip.

The survey came up with the intriguing figure of pounds 675, as the amount the "average" fan spends following his or her club a season. This consists of pounds 390 on going to 16 home matches, pounds 200 for five away matches and pounds 85 on club merchandise.

On the subject of merchandise the survey found that 48.8 per cent of those asked had bought their club's shirt in the last 12 months. Perhaps the least surprising revelation was the club which had the highest proportion of shirt-buyers: Newcastle, with 61.3 per cent.

A high price for satisfaction, Spurs' victory, page 26

Last night's results, page 27

The affluent fan


National Per cent Premier

earnings of League fans

population 1994 1995

Under pounds 10,000 43.2 19.7 13.1

pounds 10-14,999 16.2 29.4 28.8

pounds 15-19,999 16.7 21.1 22.1

pounds 20-29,999 15.4 20.2 22.7

pounds 30,000 or more 8.5 9.6 13.3