Price of Football survey: Which is cheaper, ballet or football? A clue – it's the one with tutus

BBC Sport Price of Football study shows true cost of game

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The working man’s ballet is now more expensive than the posh version. While English National Ballet is charging £14-£79 for its London performance of Swan Lake in January, watching one of the capital’s Premier League clubs will cost £20-97.

The higher-priced ticket is for the most expensive at the Emirates, where Arsenal conjure up the nearest approximation to Tony Waddington’s memorable description of the football played by Stoke City when Alan Hudson was in his team.  The cheaper one is the best value seat at West Ham United, who may drop prices even more when they move to the 54,000 capacity Olympic Stadium.

That would be welcomed because the BBC Sport Price of Football study reveals today the average price of English football’s cheapest tickets has risen at nearly twice the rate of the cost of living since 2011, by 13 per cent compared to a 6.8 per cent increase in the latter. In the last 12 months the average price of the cheapest ticket across the four divisions has increased from £20.58 to £21.49, a 4.4 per cent rise, more than treble the current rate of inflation.

The study discovered the most expensive season tickets are at the Emirates, from £1,014-£2,013. Manchester City have the cheapest in the Premier League at £299, Charlton Athletic the cheapest in the Football League at £150.

There are some signs of value. Arsenal’s £97 is actually £29 cheaper than the dearest ticket last season. Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday have a match-day ticket for £10, which contributes to a reduction on ticket prices in the Championship since 2011.

The cheapest Premier League tickets are, in theory, at Newcastle for £15, though the club’s website suggests there is nothing below £27 available for the forthcoming visit of Leicester City. The dearest outside the capital is at Liverpool (£59).  Even the cheapest ticket at Anfield is £37, a pound more than the most expensive at Liverpool Empire to see ENB’s production of Swan Lake next month.

As with most things, ticket prices are usually a matter of supply and demand. Some clubs do discount to attract young fans, or simply to fill a relatively large ground, especially for cup matches, but Arsenal, for example, are not likely to cut prices while they can sell 60,000 tickets every Premier League game, especially as they do not have a billionaire owner.

Incidentally, English National Ballet has the advantage of £6m annual funding from the Arts Council. Football clubs receive no such state subsidy.