Price of Football: Joey Barton wants clubs to subsidise local fans

Former Queens Park Rangers midfielder Joey Barton
The Premier League says clubs are working hard to keep grounds as full as possible

Clubs should subsidise the cost of tickets for local fans, according to former Manchester City and Newcastle United midfielder Joey Barton.

The Burnley player, 33, said it is a "disgrace" there are any empty seats at Premier League grounds.

The cheapest match-day ticket in the top flight now costs more than £30 on average for the first time, the BBC's annual Price of Football study found.

"People are being priced out," Barton added.

More on the Price of Football:
Full results for 2015
227 clubs, 13 leagues - work out how much football costs you
Dan Roan on why protests will persist despite price freezes
True or false? The Price of Football quiz

The Premier League said on Thursday clubs "are doing a good job" keeping grounds as full as possible,external-link with the past two seasons showing record occupancy at 96%.

But Barton said there is still much work to be done and described local fans as the "lifeblood of clubs".

"It's a disgrace that we have empty seats in any stadium in the top flight - this can only be because of a price issue," added Barton, who was released by QPR this summer after their relegation to the Championship.

Football costs down or same for most

"As players we sometimes have to buy tickets for friends and relatives for away matches - we notice the prices.

"Clubs need to remember why they are in existence in the first place. It's because of the local people.

"I think the big clubs abuse their positions - they are trying to maximise their profits while they can.

"There should be a subsidy for local based fans to go to games."

Is football more expensive? 'Yes', says Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger defended the cost of tickets at Emirates Stadium, insisting the board is keen to make them "more affordable" to fans.

The BBC Price of Football study found that the Gunners sold the most expensive Premier League match-day tickets at £97.

"It is my job to do that," said Wenger when asked if Arsenal offered value for money with their prices.

"We have made a conscious effort in our board meetings to block the increase of our tickets and in seven of the past 10 years we have not increased our prices.

"Is football more expensive? Yes, but Saturday or Sunday if you want to go to rugby you will see the tickets are expensive there as well.

"It is maybe part of professionalism and a modern society."

'Football merchandise a rip-off'

Price of Football: 20 clubs, 50 shirts, one summer

Parenting web site Mumsnet has accused clubs of exploiting young fans after the BBC study revealed a full Manchester United junior strip, with name and number printed on the back, cost more than £100.

"Every season football clubs seem to be pushing the prices of junior kits upwards," said Mumsnetexternal-link co-founder and chief executive Justine Roberts.

"Parents love seeing their kids enjoying football, but the price of their children's fandom is too steep for many parents.

"Mumsnet users have said overwhelmingly that they think football merchandise is a rip-off.

"It's a shame that clubs who generate vast revenues choose to exploit their very youngest supporters in this way."

You can download the full results for 2015 here (pdf 536 KB).

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