Cost of fandom in the Premier League booms over five years

22 November 2019 3 min. read
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The cost of being a football fan following the Premier League has exploded in the last five seasons, according to a new study. Since 2015, the price of TV subscriptions, merchandise, home tickets and in-stadium refreshments have all risen at well above the general inflation rate of the UK Consumer Price Index.

While revenues continue to explode for Premier League football clubs, their economic success is ultimately sapping their own fans of ever-increasing amounts of wealth. This was recently illustrated by elated Liverpool and Tottenham fans who were quickly brought back to earth after reaching the UEFA Champions League final, as they were greeted by the news of small ticket allocations and predatory pricing practices. If fans from London or Liverpool made the most of their trip to Madrid, some analysis suggested they could pay as much as four years’ worth of rent to cheer on their teams.

The cost of football has rapidly expanded far beyond the top table of English football, however. According to a new study from KPMG and asset brokerage firm eToro, the average spend per fan for just watching the Premier League on TV has exploded since the 2014/15 season. This cost now sits at 40% higher than five years ago, with BT Sport having accrued a growing portion of broadcast rights for England’s top league – allowing them to demand that fans buy a second large subscription to watch, in addition to the long-standing package presented by Sky Sports.cost of fandom in the Premier League booms over five yearsAt the same time, fans looking to support their team with merchandise purchases can expect to shell out a huge premium. While the UK Consumer Price Index Rate indicated an inflation rate over the last five years of 8.4%, the cost of merchandise has ballooned by 21% over the same period. In-stadium refreshments also grew faster than inflation, at 11%, and some have subsequently claimed that this further points to the pricing-out of working class fans from the sport they helped elevate to global fame.

Further to that, the cost of home tickets has also spiked drastically by 14%. This is despite a number of grounds having increased their capacity, or clubs having moved to new stadia which can handle larger attendances. While supply of seats has increased, however, this has been cancelled out by even higher demand, and the move by many clubs to subsidise away tickets.

The cost of those has fallen by 16% in the last five years, so defenders of the Premier League would suggest that overall, ticket prices are more or less stabilising. However, the away allocation at most stadiums is miniscule compared to the home crowd, so this is unlikely to hold water with many fans, following a long period of criticism for top teams on the matter.

Andrea Sartori, leader of KPMG’s Football Benchmark team, said, “The financial commitment of UK football fans is remarkable, and it would be interesting to see the cost of fandom in other major domestic football leagues, too. Although the Premier League has become a global entertainment product with a worldwide audience, dedicated and engaged returning fans are still the heart and soul of clubs. Therefore, maintaining and nurturing ties with the local community and providing the right customer experience to the most devoted supporters should be priorities for any club.”