Credit crunch hits football clubs

11 September 2008 / by Daniela Gieseler
A quarter of football fans will reluctantly have to cut back on the number of games they attend this season as the credit crunch bites and the costs for a match day soars, a new study from Virgin Money has revealed.

The Virgin Money Football Fans' Inflation Index, which has been tracking the costs of being a football supporter since 2006, shows that the money individual supporters have to fork out on a football match has increased by 21 per cent in the last three months alone.

The cost of one match for an individual has broken the £100 barrier for the first time and amounts now to £106.21. Since the establishment of the index two and a half years ago, the overall costs have therefore risen by 36 per cent from originally £77.95. The figures include the match ticket, the cost of merchandise and money spend on food, drink, fuel or rail fares.

As many Brits struggle to pay their day-to-day bills including their mortgage and energy costs 26 per cent of premiership club fans say they are forced to cut back on going to their favourite club's matches. Regular supporters who got to between 11 and 20 matches a season are hit equally bad as casual supporters.

The results of a poll among more than 3,800 supporters of Premiership and Football League clubs comes as a concern for all clubs, but supporters of West Ham top the list as 43 per cent say they were forced to cut their spending, closely followed by Newcastle (39 per cent), Liverpool, Wigan and West Brom (all at 38 per cent).

Even clubs at the other end of the chart such as Arsenal, Blackburn or Bolton have to face up to one in five supporters reducing the number of events they go to as a result of economic pressures.

Despite the benefits offered on the clubs' own football credit cards, consumers are increasingly careful as to their spending, and many of the clubs will lose out there as well.

Scott Mowbray of Virgin Money said: "Football often seems immune to the real world existing on its own Planet Football where there is always money for player transfers and salaries and the cash keeps on flowing from TV and sponsorship deals.

"However fans do have to live in the real world and the past year has seen severe pressure on people's finances from rising mortgage costs, fuel prices and food bills. But with merchandise and rail fares also on the rise something has to give and obviously keeping a roof over your head and keeping your house warm outranks going to football matches."

Malcolm Clarke, Chairman of the Football Supporters Federation, commented: "This is very worrying for the football industry because supporters at live games are its lifeblood but it is not at all surprising.

"Leisure activities are always likely to be at high risk in a period of economic downturn,"

he added, "This would be true even if football inflation was at the same rate as ordinary inflation let alone when it's much higher. It shows that all those clubs who increased prices beyond the rate of inflation for this season are living in a fools' paradise."

© Fair Investment Company Ltd