The price of supporting a local non-league club has on average dropped, an annual BBC ‘Price of Football’ survey has revealed.
The study calculated figures across Britain and Europe from over 200 clubs to analyse the cost of following the national game.
The report found that on average, the price of season tickets across the top tier of the National League has fallen from £255.13 to 236.64, a year-on-year reduction of 7%.
Newly promoted Sutton United boast the cheapest season ticket within England’s top five leagues, offering those renewing early 23 league home games for £85.
Fans choosing to purchase tickets on the day will be largely unaffected, with the most expensive National League ticket on average costing a reasonable £17.46.
Once in the ground, supporters of last seasons play off semi-finalists Braintree will have the luxury of the leagues cheapest pie at just £2.
Whilst followers of Forest Green, Maidstone and Tranmere will expect to pay £3.50 for a half time snack.
For those partial to some mid-game literature, the leagues cheapest programme prices are those of North Ferriby and Gateshead; both charged at £2.
Several clubs amongst the league have also ran promotional incentives aimed at maximising support.
The previously mentioned Braintree provided season tickets to all under-18s while under-fives gain entry for free at Chester’s Deva Stadium.
Eastleigh’s home victory against Maidstone in October offered free admission to all, attracting a crowd of 4,114.
Although mostly positive, the report does carry mixed reading for supporters of the 5th tier.
Fans of Tranmere for instance, could attend 12 games in League Two, eight in League One, six in the Championship and two in the Premiership for the same price or less of the clubs cheapest match day ticket.
While the National League’s cheapest ticket, that of Macclesfield Town, would allow entry to 10 of the selected European clubs included within the study, such as Valencia, Marseille and Bayern Munich.
Furthermore, there are 17 National League clubs charging the same price or more for a junior replica jersey than top flight clubs Burnley and Bournemouth.
The study scoped the entire Football League, the National League as well as the countries top two female leagues.
Followers of teams vying for promotion this season will be happy to know that some reductions are carried upwards to the Football League.
The average price of a match day ticket in League Two is currently £18.70 – less then £2 more than a National League fixture.
While refreshments remain as low as that of the league below, with the exception of Morecambe’s award winning pastries; priced at £3.50 each.
Overall, although football at a non-league level has witnessed a decrease, the expectation of top flight prices lowering amidst the agreement of a multi-billion pound TV rights deal has yet to be fulfilled with several figures of the game condemning the lack of action.
“Football should be accessible to everyone, from Sunday League to Premier League” said Shadow Sports Minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan.
“I am pleased to see the average cost of Premier League tickets come down this year, but with the amount of television and sponsorship money being pumped into football – more needs to be done.
“Despite the small reduction in ticket prices, the vast majority of fans are priced out of football.
“Children look up to these players, they are role models for millions – yet it costs £40 for a child to wear the same shirt.”
Whilst praising the presence of the study, a Football Supporters’ Federation spokesperson questioned the unnerving lack of disparity between ticket prices throughout the leagues.
“The annual ‘Price of Football’ survey undertaken by the BBC is an important snapshot of the current price trends within the game” they commented.
“Many clubs in the non-league game provide excellent value for money.
“But even here there is a convergence of pricing with the professional game.
“Non-league clubs need to be careful not to strangle off the rise in interest in the game outside the Football League by aping their counterparts in the top four divisions.”
The surprising nature of some of the results, in particular a match day entry to Anfield for as little as £9, could well be the product of temporary promotions and the FSF admit they hold reservations about some of the datas validity.
“The picture at individual clubs is far more complex than the survey results show.
“There is the accusation that some clubs are playing a game of ‘PR spin’ as a number of the cheaper prices quoted are only limited offers or availability.
“The FSF recognises that the survey is an important piece of work and we have offered to assist the BBC in validating the information that they receive.”
Although progress has been made both on and off the pitch at non league level, clubs must resist the urge to punish the supporter in the stand in favour of any kind of commercial success, at all costs.
Article: James Bell (@jamescb90)