Premier League clubs' fans unite for ticket protest this weekend

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport
Liverpool fans protest against the increase in ticket prices
Liverpool fans protest against the increase in ticket prices

Fans from all 20 Premier League clubs and 10 Championship teams will join forces this weekend to protest about the cost of ticket prices.

Last year's BBC Sport Price of Football study showed the average price of the cheapest tickets in Premier League football has increased 15% since 2011.

The co-ordinated protests will call for a £20 cap on away ticket prices.

The Premier League said clubs do have a "huge number of offers" for supporters to make tickets more affordable.

Fans intend to display banners at matches including the Merseyside derby between Everton and Liverpool, and Arsenal's home game against Manchester United.

But there have been suggestions some clubs may prevent such banners being unveiled. Aston Villa, who host Stoke City on Saturday, have previously only allowed those in support of the team.

Kevin Miles, chief executive of the Football Supporters' Federation (FSF),external-link said: "Pricing is a major barrier to watching live football for many fans - no club should deny fans the right to freedom of speech within grounds on such a central issue.

"Any club who does that will rightly face criticism from their fans."

Supporters' groups from Championship sides Cardiff, Leeds, Birmingham, Nottingham Forest, Hull City, QPR, Bolton, Reading, Middlesbrough and Bristol City will join their top-flight counterparts in staging protests.

Who is the most expensive? (Top-priced tickets)
Home gamesAway games
Arsenal £97West Ham £70
West Ham £95Arsenal £64
Chelsea £87Chelsea £59
Source: 2015 BBC Price of Football study

'Twenty's Plenty'

The BBC's annual Price of Football study - set to be released on 15 October - has brought the cost of football tickets into sharp focus.

The FSF says the increase in the Premier League's domestic TV revenues - to £5.14bn over three years from next season - could allow clubs to charge fans nothing and still see an increase in income compared to this season.

But it is focusing its protest on the cost of away tickets, in a campaign called 'Twenty's Plenty'.

"We're delighted to see so many fan groups involved in the weekend of action - supporters are standing together against high prices," Miles said.

"In the coming weeks, Premier League clubs have a choice to make when they carve up the latest multi-billion-pound media deal. Without match-going fans filling the stadiums, and particularly those who make such arduous away trips, football simply wouldn't generate such wealth.

"Of course it's not just in the Premier League that we see high prices, many Football League fixtures can be very expensive too."

The Premier League, which says occupancy at stadiums has been at 95.9% for the past two seasons, provides each club with £200,000 a year for initiatives for away fans. That is set aside to cover travel costs or reduce ticket prices.

The FSF says the 'Twenty's Plenty' initiative has already led to 68,000 fans saving a total of £738,000 over the past two seasons through reciprocal deals, where clubs agree to cap each other's away-ticket prices.

'A life sentence with no parole'

Liverpool fans protest against the increase in ticket prices
The Premier League says 12 clubs offer some adult season tickets that mean fans pay £26 or less per match

Away tickets for Manchester United fans travelling to Emirates Stadium on Sunday will cost £64 - the second-highest away price in the Premier League and the minimum home fans will pay for a 'category one' fixture between bigger teams.

Home tickets at Arsenal can reach £97, the most expensive in the Premier League.

Raymond Herlihy, chairman of Arsenal supporters' group Red Action,external-link told BBC Sport he had sympathy with away fans.

He added: "This is an issue which is bigger than your club or mine. It affects the millions of people who watch their teams every week. We are trying to get the issue out there because we are being priced out.

"Arsenal have got so much money in the bank but we are playing ridiculous prices compared to 20 or 30 years ago. Supporting them is a life sentence with no chance of parole."

Protestors will unfurl special FSF banners at half-time and before and after matches.

Dave Kelly, of Everton supporters' group Blue Union,external-link said there had been no opposition from Everton, Liverpool or Merseyside police.

Banners are set to be draped across both sets of fans at Goodison Park to show their solidarity.

Kelly added: "The Merseyside derby is known as the friendly derby but we want it to be the affordable derby in recognition of the loyal support that both clubs receive.

"Our request to achieve a reciprocal deal between Everton and Liverpool has fallen on deaf ears this season but we will keep pushing the issue."

Another recent study by the GoEuro Football Price Indexexternal-link claimed the Premier League's average ticket price - £53.76 - was the most expensive in the world.

A Premier League spokesman said: "While the most expensive tickets are subject to the most attention, the huge number of offers available at clubs are generally ignored. This approach does not provide a fair reflection of what the vast majority of fans are actually paying to attend Premier League football matches.

"To provide an example, this season 12 Premier League clubs offered adult season ticket prices which work out as fans paying £26 or less per match. And many of the junior season-ticket offers at clubs see young people attending for less than £10 per match."

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