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Replica kit off as football fans cut back

  • Two out of five fans are cutting spending on merchandise, Virgin Money’s Football Fans’ Inflation Index shows
  • But average matchday cost falls to £97.50

More than two out of five football fans are cutting back on merchandise spending with new replica shirts the main target for cost-conscious supporters, according to Virgin Money’s authoritative Football Fans’ Index.

Up to 42% of supporters will spend less on a range of merchandise including replica shirts for adults and children, programmes, general club clothing and household goods, the research shows. The Premiership clubs facing the biggest drops in merchandise spending include Birmingham, Bolton and Blackburn. More than half (52%) of Bolton and Birmingham fans are cutting merchandise spending while 49% of Blackburn fans are reducing spending. Even 48% of fans of champions Chelsea will cut spending.

New replica shirts are most likely to be ditched this season with 26% of supporters cutting back. The biggest potential drop in sales is at West Ham where 35% are cutting back and Newcastle where 34% of fans won’t buy new shirts despite promotion. Around 34% of Tottenham fans won’t buy new kit this season despite the club launching six new shirts.

Supporters are cutting back despite efforts by clubs to reduce prices – Virgin Money’s research shows the average matchday cost is 3.5% lower than a year ago.

Virgin Money’s Football Fans’ Inflation Index, which measures the real matchday costs, shows the average price of going to a live game is still a hefty £97.50 compared with £101.02 last year and the highpoint of October 2008 when it hit £106.21. The real matchday costs* include a pint of lager, a match ticket, a replica shirt, and a match programme as well as some travel expenses.

The index shows average ticket prices across all divisions are now £24.84 compared with £27.34 last year while replica shirt costs have climbed to £34.24 from £30.31 in 2009. Other parts of the basket of goods used to calculate the inflation index have fallen including programmes and pay-per-view costs.

Grant Bather, spokesman for Virgin Money, said: “Clubs have taken action to cut ticket prices with special offers and season ticket freezes across all divisions. It is good that the matchday cost is going in the opposite direction to price rises across the economy as a whole.

“However the costs of going to live games is still a big bite out of anyone’s income and something has to give. That appears to be club merchandise with replica shirts the biggest target. There has to be a limit to how many replica shirts fans need and some fans appear to have reached that limit.

Malcolm Clarke, Chairman of the Football Supporters’ Federation, commented: “The clubs agreed to a two year minimum “life” for all shirts and to ensure every shirt offered for sale had a ticket clearly indicating the date up to which the club would wear that shirt. Far too many clubs are driving a coach and horses through that restriction which they voluntarily agreed to in writing in the final Football Task Force report. Such breaches are bad faith on their part.”

Premiership Club

Percentage cutting back on merchandise spending















Stoke City


West Brom




Man City






Man Utd




Aston Villa






West Ham




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 £97.50 – a rise of £19.55 or 25% 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.

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Notes to editors

* Football Fans Census interviewed a representative sample of 3,992 football fans between 20 August and 3 September 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
Virgin Money
Tel: 0207 111 1012

Kevan Reilly / Chris Jarvis
Citigate Dewe Rogerson
Tel: 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 was 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 the leading football research expert providing a communication channel between the supporter and the football industry.

About the Football Supporters’ Federation

The FSF represents over 180,000 members supporting clubs and national teams at all levels throughout England & Wales.