Stoke City Analysis and Opinion

Football has clearly changed on the pitch but with the amount of money being injected into the game from television rights and advertising. This study will use fan voice to find out how much it has changed.

Free to view television channels have lost the majority of the games that they once had. The FA Cup, England internationals and certain cup finals are all that remain on the BBC and ITV, this shows that money is becoming a massive thing in football. The question I have come up with allow me to ask and hopefully answer the question of how the game has changed for the fans, looking at the divide between the fans and the boards, as well as looking at if there is anything that the clubs can do to bring the ticket prices down for the fans and make their days out cheaper. Using Sky Sports as my guide allows the proposal to have a base of where the money started to pour into football and ticket prices went up.
However, the idea of money in football is quite a wide subject so I am choosing to look at the more recent history and look into the “big money” football industry. So, my research both primary and secondary will look at the modern era of football as this is when the real influx of money started.

I want to look into where the money that goes through football teams actually goes because apart from bringing in better players it never seems to bring in any kind of decrease in price be it in match ticket, food or even the programmes which continue to rise, not all football clubs will allow access to this information but some clubs will and the rise will be able to access on fan sites. For example, the Premier League has set the price for programmes at three pounds and fifty pence, so if a fan were to buy a programme at every league game for a season, without bringing into consideration the price of match tickets and food, they would be spending one hundred and thirty-three pounds. This is already an incredible amount of money and something that along with the ticket price and in-ground food means that the traditional fan on the terrace is being forced to pay much more than they want to or can afford. But fans will continue to pay it as their teams mean that much to them. However, the football league still allows clubs to chose the price of their programmes.

This topic has had various research behind it and is really affecting the footballing community as it has and continues to create a divide between clubs and the fans that go week in week out to support their team. The BBC’s “price of football” campaign was the first high profile case looking into how much football is costing the fans and really brought the idea of it to the forefront. Since this study, all football clubs in the Premier League have been made to make their maximum ticket price at £30 which is a step in the right direction but is not quite where it needs to be.

This is why it needs further research into as the clubs need to know that what they have done is good but is not where the game needs to be, the game has become too much about money.

Virgin Media who sponsor Southampton football club have already subsidised all tickets for Premier League home games this season meaning that Southampton’s fans only pay a maximum of £20 for tickets at St Mary’s Stadium, this is an offer that is matched for away supporters. Stoke City have also made travel on the club’s official coaches free for all supporters for a sixth successive season in an attempt to bring the weekend costs down for their fans. These kinds of efforts that clubs are making are affecting the relationship in a positive way. From personal experience the clubs that have owners that seem to have a good relationship with the fans it is respected in a reciprocal manner by the fans to those at the top.

It also allows me to look back to the early 2000s before money started to massively effect football and compare how much the price of football has changed and how the TV and advertising money has changed the whole game forever and whether it is for the better or for the worse. My original hypothesis is that people will think that the money going into the game can be a good thing but it is not being used in the right areas. Because although it may be bringing better players to the league, and to people’s favourite teams it also is not being used to bring the money down for the fans so although the football may be potentially getting better the price to see it seems to be on the increase unless the Football Association do something about it.

The main things I want to look into is how much money, if any, do football clubs currently put into making the experience for their fans more accessible, in terms of ticket prices and just how much more could they do. Terms such as “parachute payments” are used to describe how much money is put into clubs through television rights, I want to find out where this money goes. This can be done from all sides by asking supporters and supporters groups what they want to see being done. Also, by looking closer at the records of football clubs and looking at how much profit a club actually makes a year, this will be through all things; ticket sales, food, drink, programmes, shirt sales and TV rights. This then needs to be compared against the money that each club is spending on; transfers, player wages, staff wages and stadium up-keeping costs. But these are things that every club has to deal with around the world but yet when it comes to the ticket prices there are a lot of other nations that make it affordable for fans, why can’t the UK keep up?