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Virgin Money survey sees cost of football rocket

Football News 24/7
Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Money may be the new shirt sponsors of Premier League Newcastle United but generally there is bad news for fans according to Virgin's latest survey. Virgin Money’s Football Fans’ Index has tracked the cost of football since January 2006 and is aimed at helping supporters keep track of the rise and fall in the costs of supporting their team. The company identified the match day essentials fans buy and keeps tabs on increases and decreases.

At the launch of the index in January 2006, the match day basket of goods cost £77.95. However the most recent analysis puts the cost at £112.87 – a rise of almost 45% per match day. Virgin Money’s Football Fans’ Index runs every three months and the firm’s research team examines the cost of various items which football fans spend money on. The basket of goods includes a gallon of petrol, a pint of lager, a bacon roll, a train fare, a match ticket, a replica shirt, the cost of watching football on television and a match programme.

The cost of following football is close to an all-time high with inflation for fans running at over 11% a year – 3.5 times the rate for the economy as a whole, according to Virgin Money’s Football Fans’ Index.

Increased costs for match tickets and replica kit, combined with the rising cost of watching football on television, have helped to send the total cost of the Virgin Money basket of football goods to £112.87 – the second highest since Virgin Money began tracking costs for fans in January 2006.

The cost of Virgin Money’s basket of goods has climbed £11.83 since the end of the 2010/11 season – an increase of 11.7% – despite inflation across the economy as a whole falling. That means football inflation is rising 3.5 times faster than the 3.4% level of the Government’s official Consumer Price Index, Virgin Money’s research shows.

The rise has been partially driven by costs which fans could argue the clubs themselves can control – the average price of tickets across all English professional leagues is now £25.09 compared with £24.86 a year ago, while replica shirts are now an average £29.81 compared with £25.81 at the end of last season.

At the same time, fans are being squeezed by costs in the wider economy with petrol prices, rail fares, food and alcohol prices climbing.

The good news is that the cost of attending a game has fallen since the start of 2012 when the total cost was £116. Several clubs have launched season ticket deals, including Virgin sponsored Newcastle United which has offered fans a price freeze for the next nine years.

Average attendances show clubs are still pulling in the fans with Premier League clubs including Norwich, Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Fulham reporting near sell-outs. Across the Premier League the average attendance is 90% of capacity falling to 66% in the Championship, 46% in League 1 and 44% in League 2.

FTD Commercial Director John Booth commenting on the survey said:

'The problem for lower league clubs is that without the significant TV revenues of the Premier League a much higher proportion of income comes from tickets, merchandise and catering. Premier League clubs are effcetively under pinning ticket prices because they are no longer  the mainstay of their income. Smaller clubs will find this hard to do."

Scott Mowbray, spokesman for Virgin Money, said: “When prices are rising generally in the economy they are going to rise in football as well. However, while inflation has fallen below 3.5% across the economy as a whole, inflation for football fans is running over three times higher than that. This is another squeeze on people’s pockets and while some clubs are taking steps to help their fans, others need to think carefully about what else they can do to help.”

FOOTBALL’S RISING – AND – FALLING COSTS

January 2006 £77.95
May 2006 £84.80
September 2006 £90.29
January 2007 £90.46
May 2007 £90.87
September 2007 £95.08
February 2008 £85.19
July 2008 £87.75
October 2008 £106.21
January 2009 £95.60
May 2009 £89.53
August 2009 £101.02
November 2009 £102.53
February 2010 £89.09
June 2010 £84.89
August 2010 £97.50
January 2011 £101.67
May 2011 £101.04
September 2011 £110.38
January 2012 £116.00
April 2012 £112.87

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