English football took its most significant step in a generation to reduce ticket prices yesterday. The Premier League confirmed that for the next three seasons all tickets for away supporters would be capped at £30.
The move, unanimously agreed at a Premier League meeting, means a drastic reduction in the cost of supporters following their team. Almost half of Premier League clubs currently charge in excess of £30 to travelling fans, but from the start of next season that will change.
The decision follows years of campaigning by the Football Supporters’ Federation, which has called for a price cap of £20 on away tickets through its “Twenty’s Plenty” campaign.
Kevin Miles, chief executive of the FSF, said last night that he was “delighted” with the move that would “save a lot of fans a lot of money and for many will make the difference between attending away games or not”.
Reducing prices for fans has been a priority for the Premier League ever since agreement of a £5.1bn domestic TV deal was reached in February last year. It prompted the League to designate match-attending fans as one of its five key policy areas for the next few years.
The Premier League’s Attendance Working Group, which was behind 2013’s Away Supporters Initiative, worked with the clubs to find a policy solution to help to re-engage traditional match-going fans. There was no consensus between the clubs as recently as the Premier League shareholders meeting on 4 February, but that changed yesterday with the unanimous agreement of the clubs for the new £30 cap. The policy is a recognition of the importance to the Premier League, especially in global television markets, of away fans.
The league’s statement recognised that away fans were “essential for match atmosphere” in their ability to “stimulate the response from home fans”.
The Premier League is expected to make close to £3bn in its international broadcast deals for the 2016 to 2019 cycle.
The clubs that charged the most to away fans will lose some money as part of the initiative, although it will be far outweighed by the money earned through television over the next three seasons.
Arsenal announced yesterday that they will further discount away tickets for their travelling fans to £26, and more clubs have been urged to follow suit.
“We hope many clubs will follow the example of Arsenal and reduce away ticket prices for their fans even further,” added Miles.
The new rules were easier to implement in part because it is a reciprocal arrangement between all 20 clubs.
However, Clive Efford, the Labour sport spokesman, insisted that there was more work to do.
“It is important that Premier League football is not extortionately expensive for match-going fans,” he told The Independent. “It is important that traditional fans, whose passion is at the heart of their clubs and our game, are not priced out.”