Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Even Die-Hard Fans Are Now Deserting the Greedy Game

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Even Die-Hard Fans Are Now Deserting the Greedy Game

Article excerpt

Byline: RAOUL SIMONS

A Standard Sport survey shows the extent to which lifelong supporters are being priced out of football

THE spiralling cost of watching football is driving away London's diehard supporters in their droves. That is the startling conclusion of a Standard Sport survey into the spectating habits of a select group of the capital's most committed supporters.

Identifying lifelong fans from each of London's 13 clubs, we asked each one how much it actually cost them to follow their team home and away.

Our report found that less than two months into the season, there are ordinary fans of Championship clubs - not those in the VIP seats - who have already spent more than [pounds sterling]800 watching football, including their ticket and extras such as travel, food and buying a matchday programme.

In the Premiership, most teams have played only six matches but a typical bill for this campaign is approaching [pounds sterling]500 - and there are still seven months to go.

It is these kind of sums which explain Chelsea's disappointing attendance of 29,575 against Anderlecht and why fans are being more selective.

This trend should, of course, concern the football authorities, but even more alarming is the anecdotal evidence - uncovered during our investigation - which reveals the sort of people who are now staying away.

We spoke to third and fourth generation fans - the kind of individuals whose loyalty has a quasi-religious dimension - and, incredibly, 25 per cent admitted to having serious doubts about renewing their season tickets.

Barry Baker, who has been secretary of the Arsenal Supporters' Club for 40 years, said sky-high prices may mean he is unable to afford a seat at Emirates Stadium.

He told Standard Sport: "I love the club but it comes to a point when money will stop me going. …

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