BBC Price of Football 2013: Average ticket prices fall
Average ticket prices across English football's top four divisions have fallen by up to 4.4%, the BBC Sport Price of Football study has found.
It showed prices in four main categories have reduced for 2013-14.
The annual study - the biggest in British football - includes the prices of 164 clubs in the top 10 divisions.
"It is good news for fans but it does come after a long period of incremental rises year on year," Sports Minister Hugh Robertson told the BBC.
"The key thing is that it is replicated in years to come. I think clubs are beginning to understand what fans are going through and to adjust their prices accordingly."
Five leagues in England, four in Scotland and the Women's Super League were consulted.
Last year's study showed the average price of the cheapest ticket in English football had gone up by 11% - four times the rate of inflation.
But this year, average prices for the cheapest and most expensive match-day and season tickets were all down - as clubs in the Football League face up to an average 5% drop in attendances, from 9,949 in 2011-12 to 9,481 in 2012-13.
In the top four divisions of English football, the biggest fall was 4.4% for the cheapest adult season ticket category, down from £344.63 in 2012 to £329.59 in 2013.
The average for the most expensive adult season ticket fell 2.4% - from £546.30 in 2012 to £524.52 in 2013. The average for the cheapest adult match-day ticket is down 3.1% - from £21.24 to £20.58. The average for the most expensive adult match-day ticket dropped around 3.5% - from £34.11 to £32.91
In Scotland, the average price of the top flight's cheapest season tickets was 1% down. However, the average cost of the cheapest match-day tickets rose by more than 3%.
As well as the most expensive and cheapest season and adult match-day tickets, we recorded the cost of a cup of tea, a pie and a programme. Just two clubs, Lincoln and Rangers, failed to respond.
The study also found:
- The most expensive ticket in English football remains at Arsenal, where a category A adult match-day ticket can cost up to £126. Their cheapest ticket is £26.
- The cheapest adult season ticket in the Premier League is £299 at Manchester City. The most expensive is £1,955 at Arsenal, although this includes seven cup matches.
- The cheapest adult match-day ticket in men's football is £7 at Albion Rovers - the only men's club to charge less than £10.
- The average price for an adult match-day ticket in the Women's Super League is just £5.38.
- The most expensive pies in British football are at Crystal Palace and Kidderminster, with both charging £4.
- The most expensive cup of tea is £2.50 at Manchester United - the same as in 2012. Manchester City also charged £2.50 last year, but have dropped their price to £1.80.
Dave Whelan, chairman of FA Cup winners Wigan, said it was "difficult" for clubs to put prices up amid the current financial climate in Britain.
"Money is so tight and our area is running at 8-9% unemployed and it's impossible to ask anyone to pay any more to watch football," he said.
Football League chairman Greg Clarke said three-quarters of Football League clubs had either reduced their ticket prices or kept them at the same level as last season.
"I think this is a case of clubs responding sensibly to declining living standards in what has been a challenging economic period," he said.
While the overall picture across English football was lower ticket prices, the Premier League saw a 4.3% rise in the average price of the cheapest season tickets.
Malcolm Clarke, chair of the Football Supporters' Federation, said there was "no justification" for any increases in the top flight given a new television deal that is bringing in an extra £600m across the division.
He had called for the extra cash to be used to cut admission prices drastically, but during the transfer window clubs spent a record £630m on players.
Clarke said: "It is disappointing that the average price of the cheapest season ticket has still gone up despite the extra income and despite the very difficult economic circumstances many supporters are in.
"There is plenty of scope to do much more than they have already done. If all that happens is that most of that money is being used to go into players and agents, then there is a danger that there will be a real kickback from fans."
Despite the concerns, the average Premier League attendance in 2012-13 was 35,975 - up from 34,646 the season before. In addition, there were record season-ticket sales of 476,776.
Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore said these figures were helped by the "fact that so many clubs are working so hard to ensure that Premier League football remains as accessible and affordable to as many people as possible.
"That sets a high bar - one that both we and the clubs are determined to maintain," he said. "That is why clubs are looking at a range of innovative and inclusive offers to encourage high-attendance, particularly for younger fans and away supporters.
"It is great to see the continued high levels of support for top-flight football in this country. The passion and commitment of the fans is an integral part of the Premier League's success and English football culture and we want to make sure that is intact this season, the next and for many to come."
Professor Tom Cannon, a football finance expert from Liverpool University, said top-flight clubs were under pressure to produce greater revenues.
"The truth is, we are in a situation where the cost of talent, at the top in particular, continues to soar, not just because of that pressure but because of regulatory pressure like Financial Fair Play, which means they have to generate more and more income," he said.
"This means on the one hand you have a bonanza of TV income but you also have a bonanza in expenditure and potentially the gap has to be filled by gate income and that puts the pressure on the fans."
Last year, Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament calling for ticket prices to be cut as a result of the Price of Football 2012.
In response to this year's study, he said: "The cost of watching football is still huge. There are some signs that clubs are making serious efforts to try and make sure that not just season tickets but match-day tickets are very affordable.
"There have been early steps made in the right direction, but there are still many of the large clubs who are appearing to be totally and utterly inconsiderate towards the fact that many people are being priced out of being able to watch their team."