The country’s largest supporters group has launched a campaign demanding a £20 limit on the price of away tickets amid growing frustration with the prices charged visiting fans in the Premier League.
The Football Supporters Federation will hold the first of a series of open meetings for fans across the country in Manchester on Thursday as it seeks to gather support for its attempt to cap the burgeoning cost of attending away games.
The FSF are determined to keep the issue alive following rumblings of discontent last week over the £62 prices Manchester City fans were charged for their side’s Premier League match at Arsenal. Some 900 tickets were returned by City.
The issue will be discussed at the Premier League’s next shareholders meeting next month, with free coach travel and a pricing link to the cheapest home tickets suggested by Stoke City. High ticket prices for some visiting supporters combined with travel and other costs are putting supporters off following their team away from home according to the FSF’s last annual survey – 40 per cent said they were attending fewer away matches across the leagues in England – although attendance levels at Premier League grounds remain consistently above 90 per cent capacity.
The FSF, an umbrella organisation for supporters groups in England and Wales that has 200,000 members, wants to make this a “watershed moment.” The federation believes a £20 limit needs to agreed. The meetings, including one in London on 31 January, will help sustain the campaign and also explore other options to press the issue.
“Those who follow their team away are the distilled essence of the football fan – the hardcore,” said Martin O’Hara of the FSF. “Without away fans the atmosphere at games dies and football loses a large part of what makes it so special. Travelling supporters spend the most time and money on their team and that deserves recognition and reward. In the short term clubs might make a few extra quid by squeezing away fans dry but long-term vision is required.
“Away attendances are in decline and something must be done by the clubs before that becomes terminal. Who wants to go to games without away fans, games without passion? We believe that an away ticket price cap of £20 would make football more affordable and halt the decline in away fan attendances. The campaign aims to make this a reality.”
Ticket pricing is a matter for individual clubs and any Premier League-wide agreement would need the backing of 14 of the clubs. The cheapest average price for an away ticket in the Premier League is currently Wigan’s £24. Arsenal’s is around £40 with Chelsea the most expensive at £50.