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Fans demand players take a wage cut

  • Virgin Money's Football Fans' Inflation Index shows year-on-year increase in matchday costs

Football fans believe players should lead by example and take a wage cut given the current economic climate, according to a new poll by Virgin Money.

The firm's authoritative Football Fans' Inflation Index, which has tracked the cost of being a fan since January 2006, reveals that two in every five regular matchday fans (40%) support a wage cut for their club's players.

The Virgin Money Football Fans' Inflation Index shows that the effects of the recession are being felt keenly as the cost of a match day for an individual has risen to £89.53 – a five per cent year-on-year increase on last year.**

And regular match-going fans reckon footballers should not be immune to the economic downturn. While 41 per cent of the 4,000 fans polled were not in favour of players taking a wage cut now, they would support a league-wide wage cap for all footballers. The biggest advocates of wage caps are 30-34 year olds and season ticket holders.

Only 20 per cent of those surveyed by Virgin Money said footballers should be free to earn as much as they can.

An average Premier League footballer earns as much as £1.1m a year or £21,000 a week. The top players reportedly take home as much as £130,000 per week – the equivalent of £18,500 a day. ***

Virgin Money’s Football Fans' Price Index is aimed at helping supporters keep track of the rises and falls in the costs of supporting their team. The company identified the match day essentials fans buy and keeps tabs on increases and decreases on everything from match tickets and petrol to bacon sandwiches, alcohol and train tickets.

The most recent results, revealed exclusively by Guardian Sport, shows that the cost of attending games has risen by 14 per cent since the beginning of 2006. At the launch of the index in January 2006, the match day basket of goods** cost £77.95 compared with £89.53 now. The basket of goods reached its peak in October last year, when it was as high as £106.21.

Grant Bather of Virgin Money said: "Players have done extremely well out of the boom in football and that is only right and proper as obviously there’s no game without the players and they only have a short career.

"However the cost of being a football fan is rising. As supporters struggle to make ends meet the earnings of the players they watch every week become harder to bear. Fans genuinely feel they pay the wages of their club's footballers so it’s no surprise to us that they are calling for wage cuts.

"Football used to be an everyman's game but unless Premiership clubs wake up to the realities of the new economic climate, they should be prepared for a significant drop in interest as fans vote with their feet."

Malcolm Clarke, Chairman of the Football Supporters Federation, commented: "Like any other industry, football has to learn to live within its means and look after its customers, many of whom are suffering as a result of the recession. If this means more ticket price reductions and a bit less for the top players, so be it. The Premier League has secured a very good deal for its next TV contract, but many of its match-going fans, without whom there would be no TV product, have not been so lucky in beating the recession, and they need a break.

"We welcome the moves by the Football Conference and the Football League in League 2, to place an overall cap on the amount a club can spend on wages as a percentage of its turnover. This is the way forward and we would like to see this introduced in the higher leagues, to ensure financial responsibility.

"You can't blame the players for taking what they are offered - but those managing the industry have got to behave more responsibly with the top players’ wages. Many supporters felt that the wages supposedly being offered to Kaka by Manchester City, for example, were almost obscene in the current economic climate."

- Ends -

Notes to Editors

* Football Fans' Census interviewed a representative sample of 4,021 football fans between 26th and 27th March 2009.

** 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, pay-per-view cost and a match programme.

*** Annual review of football finance by Deloitte in May 2007.

For further information:

Grant Bather, Public Relations Manager, Virgin Money
0207 111 1012

Kevan Reilly/Billy Partridge, Citigate Dewe Rogerson
0207 638 9571

Football Supporters' Federation
Malcolm Clarke 07939 594379
Steven Powell 07881 950613

About Virgin Money

Virgin Money is Virgin’s financial services arm and was established in 1995.

Virgin Money has over two million customers and offers a wide range of financial products across lending (e.g. credit cards and personal loans), savings (e.g. deposits, investments and pensions) and protection (e.g. life insurance, home insurance and car insurance) to the UK market.

Virgin Money Personal Financial Service Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA). Registered Office: Discovery House, Whiting Road, Norwich NR4 6EJ. Registered in England no. 3072766. Entered on the Financial Services Register (www.fsa.gov.uk/register), Register Number: 179271

About The Football Fans' Census:

The Football Fans Census is Europe’s leading football research expert. With over 100,000 members The FFC provides a communication channel between the supporter and the football industry.

About the Football Supporters' Federation

The FSF represents over 142,000 members supporting clubs and national teams at all levels throughout England & Wales.

www.fsf.org.uk