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One in four season tickets could be cancelled

  • Man Utd most at risk as fans cut back on season tickets, says Virgin Money research
  • Virgin Money’s Football Fans’ Inflation Index falls 6.8% from 2009

Up to one in four season ticket holders is considering not renewing for next season in a bid to cut costs, according to Virgin Money’s authoritative Football Fans’ Inflation Index.

Research for Virgin Money shows 25% of season ticket holders are thinking of giving up at the end of the season with 4% planning on no longer going to any games while 21% intend to buy tickets when it suits them.

And Champions Manchester United face the biggest potential exodus of season ticket holders with 15% giving up going to games entirely while another 44% will only buy tickets when it suits them. United, which is currently facing fan protests against the Glazer family who own the club, could see up to 59% of fans cancelling season tickets with Wolves the next most at risk in the Premiership with 54% of supporters considering giving up for next season.

The backlash against season tickets comes despite Virgin Money’s Football Fans’ Inflation Index showing that the cost of attending games has fallen by 6.8% in the past year. Lower ticket prices and reduced costs for replica kit means the match-day cost has fallen to £89.09 compared with £95.60 in January 2009.

That is still 14.29% higher than the matchday cost when the index was launched in January 2006 but is substantially lower than the all-time high of £106.21 in October 2008. Average match tickets across all leagues peaked at £27.38 in July 2009 but have now fallen to an average of £22.59.

The research among more than 3,896 fans representing all 92 clubs in the Football League shows fans of Liverpool and Stoke City are the least likely to give up season tickets next year with just 9% of supporters considering cut backs.

Grant Bather, spokesman for Virgin Money, said: “It appears that clubs have got the message that fans cannot keep on paying more and more for football just in time. The prospect of one in four season ticket holders giving up next season is a serious warning to clubs that fans need some support.

“When inflation across the economy as a whole is rising it is encouraging to see that football is going in the opposite direction with Football Fans Inflation down 6.8% in a year. That said the matchday cost is still nearly £90 which is a major chunk out of anyone’s disposable income.

“Man Utd can probably afford to see season ticket holders walking away as there are plenty of people willing to step in and take over but at other clubs there is not the same demand from supporters. Clubs have shown they are willing to help but they could do more to make everyone better off.

Malcolm Clarke, Chairman of the Football Supporters’ Federation, commented: “The drop in costs is welcome but season tickets are still priced astronomically compared with other major European leagues such as Spain, Italy and Germany. At many clubs there’s little or no recognition of loyalty in the prices charged compared with buying match by match. Prices for essentials like food, rents, transport and petrol are going up and football fans like everybody else are struggling with frozen or declining pay and unemployment. Clubs need to bear this in mind when setting next season’s prices.

“Shamefully Manchester United was the only Premier League club that put up their prices for the current season. Every other club froze or reduced them. They also sold Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid. Huge numbers of United fans are in open revolt against the Glazer family’s huge cash drain on the club. They’re paying the price for the leveraged buy-out in 2005 that has loaded a massive £700 million debt onto United’s books. The Glazer regime has put up ticket prices by half in less than five years. No wonder almost six out of 10 Old Trafford season ticket holders are thinking of not renewing.”

PREMIERSHIP CLUBPERCENTAGE CONSIDERING CANCELLING SEASON TICKETS
Man Utd59%
Wolves54%
Burnley31%
Fulham29%
Everton28%
Blackburn28%
Portsmouth28%
West Ham27%
Aston Villa24%
Sunderland23%
Wigan21%
Tottenham19%
Man City18%
Birmingham17%
Chelsea17%
Hull17%
Arsenal14%
Bolton13%
Liverpool9%
Stoke City9%


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 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.

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 £89.09 – a rise of £11.14 per match day. Virgin Money’s Football Fans’ Index runs every three months and the firm’s research team examines the cost of items such as a gallon of petrol, match tickets, food, alcohol, train tickets and replica shirts.

-Ends-

Notes to editors:
* Football Fans’ Census interviewed a representative sample of 3,896 football fans between 5th and 11 February 2010.
** 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.

For further information:
Grant Bather at the Virgin Money Press Office
0207 111 1012
Grant.Bather@virginmoney.com

Kevan Reilly/Chris Jarvis, 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 as a joint venture between the Virgin Group and Norwich Union.
  • In 1997, Virgin Direct Personal Financial Services Limited launched The Virgin One Account, a joint venture with The Royal Bank of Scotland that offered the UK’s first current account mortgage direct to the retail market. In 2001, RBS bought out the Virgin Group’s stake in the joint venture.
  • In April 2004 the Virgin Group took 100% ownership of Virgin Money.
  • Virgin Money currently has over 2.5 million customers and offers Payment Cards (Credit Cards & Prepaid Cards), Savings and Investment products (Stakeholder Pensions, Children’s Pensions, Employers Pensions, FTSE Tracker ISA, Bond & Gilt ISA, Climate Change ISA, Cash ISA, and Unit Trusts), General Insurance products (Motor, Home, Travel, and Pet) and Life Assurance products to the UK market.
  • Virgin Money's brand ambition is to make "everyone better off" – this philosophy underpins our approach to business by offering good value to customers, treating employees well, making a positive contribution to society and delivering a profit to shareholders.
  • Virgin has signed a five-year deal to be the official sponsor of the London Marathon, the biggest annual fundraising event in the world. The inaugural Virgin London Marathon is on 25 April 2010. Virgin Money, the financial services division of the Virgin Group is leading the London Marathon sponsorship with the ambition to help runners raise £¼ billion over 5 years and will use its infrastructure, online capability and financial expertise to deliver that through Virgin Money Giving.

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