Tom Cowgill asks if clubs are dropping the ball when it comes to young fans?
Despite this year’s BBC Price of Football study finding the majority of ticket prices have frozen or fallen for a third year running, young fans still maintain the cost remains a major barrier to attending matches.
This year’s study, the largest of its kind in Europe, asked more than 200 clubs across the UK for information on ticket prices and found almost two thirds of price categories have been reduced or remained the same across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as some of the biggest leagues on the continent.
But despite this, although the study found that 135 clubs out of 190 in England, Scotland and Wales offer reduced prices for teenagers and young adults – separate from any student concessions, 55% of the fans polled said they had stopped going completely or go to fewer games because it was too expensive. In 2015 the average age of an adult supporter in the Premier League was found to be 41.
Within the same report, a separate online poll of 1,000 18 to 24-year-old fans living in Britain conducted by ComRes, four in five (82%) said they found the cost of tickets an obstacle to them going to more matches. As a result, they were more likely to engage with football by playing games on a console or PC (61%). Only a quarter of fans (26%) said they go to watch football live more than once a month.
This is, of course, a huge worry for the future of football clubs. The fact that so many young fans feel disenfranchised is a clear indication that clubs need to take every step to get them back on board. Football clubs are trying to come up with greater ways to combat this. They know the fans are their lifeblood. Some clubs, like one of our local clubs – Stoke – run cheaper ticket schemes for under-21s. Everton, for example, say one in four of its season ticket holders are under 22.