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Nearly one in seven season ticket holders are not renewing

  • And up to one in five regular ticket buyers will cut back next season
  • Cost of average match day soars 18% in a year, Virgin Money’s Football Fans’ Inflation Index shows

Around 13% of football club season ticket holders are not renewing for the 2011/12 season and 18% of fans who regularly buy tickets for games will cut back, according to research for Virgin Money’s authoritative Football Fans’ Inflation Index*.

In the Premier League the numbers rise to 15% of season ticket holders not renewing and 31% of regular match attenders cutting back on the tickets they buy.

And at Manchester United, which has angered some fans with £1 price rises across the board, as many as 28% of season ticket holders claim they will not renew while 49% of those who regularly buy tickets will cut back.

The cutbacks come despite many clubs across the leagues attempting to limit ticket price rises, although Arsenal’s chief executive Ivan Gazidis has admitted “ordinary fans are being priced out of live football” in a letter to the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust. Around 22% of Arsenal season ticket holders will not renew next season, the Virgin Money research shows.

Other clubs facing high levels of cancellations include relegation threatened West Ham with 30% not renewing and Aston Villa where 27% are not renewing. By contrast just 4% of Liverpool fans are not renewing.

Virgin Money’s own Football Fans’ Inflation Index shows the average match day cost has soared 18% since last year – more than four times the 4% inflation rate for the UK economy as a whole. The match day cost is now £101.04 compared with £84.89 for the same period last year.

The rise has been driven partly by price rises across the economy with petrol and food costs climbing but average ticket prices across all English leagues have climbed 10% to £24.86 since 2006.

Grant Bather, spokesman for Virgin Money, said: “Average attendances in the Premier League remain high with clubs regularly selling the ground out, but there are signs of empty spaces at many games and average attendances across all clubs over the season is around 90%.

“In the lower leagues it’s the same story and it is clear that the rising cost of going to games is having a major effect. Of course there are always new fans coming through and all manner of reasons for people cutting back but cost is the big driver behind 13% of all season ticket holders not renewing.”

Malcolm Clarke, Chair of the Football Supporters’ Federation commented: “Football fans face the same economic difficulties, including redundancies, short-time working, soaring petrol costs and wages not keeping up with inflation, as everyone else.

“In this situation it would not be surprising if many of them are forced to cut back on watching the game they love. The tragic paradox is that the football industry still has huge sums of money coming into it at the top of the game, mostly through media rights. But too much of it stays at the top and too much of it is used on ridiculously high player wages, rather than on helping its loyal customers through these difficult times.”

LEAGUEPERCENTAGE OF SEASON TICKET HOLDERS CANCELLINGPERCENTAGE OF REGULAR TICKET BUYERS CUTTING BACK ON GAMES

Premier League

15%

31%

Championship

11%

16%

League 1

10%

11%

League 2

14%

17%


The Virgin Money Football Fans’ Inflation Index, which measures the real match day costs, shows the average price of going to a live game is heading back to the high of October 2008 when it hit £106.21. The real match day costs** include a pint of lager, a match ticket, a replica shirt and a match programme as well as some travel expenses.

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 2006, the match day basket of goods** cost £77.95. However the most recent analysis puts the cost at £101.04 - a rise of £23.09 or 30% 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

* The Football Supporters Federation interviewed a representative sample of 4,091 season ticket holders and football fans who regularly attended matches between 18 April and 5 May 2011.

** The basket of goods includes a gallon of petrol, a pint of lager, a bacon roll, a train fare, sandwiches, 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 Supporters’ Federation

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

www.fsf.org.uk