Thursday, 17 January 2013
The cost of following Brighton and Hove Albion: Around £3,000 a season
The cost of following Brighton home and away in every league game this season will set fans back more than £3,000.
The total Seagulls' supporters will have to spend on away tickets alone works out at around £611 - according to prices listed online.
That works out at an average of £26.50 for an away ticket in the Championship this season, give or take a few pounds due to estimated categorisation of certain games yet to be played.
Earlier in the season the cost of petrol for the roughly 9,000 miles clocked up by a travelling Seagull was put at around £1,700 - meaning the cost of travel and entry alone for all 23 away league games is £2,311.
And that does not take into account a repeat 565-mile return trip to Blackburn which Albion fans will have to make twice after the first fixture was called off late in the day.
Add to that an average priced Amex season ticket in the West Stand Upper (£490) and the total reaches £2,801.
The total cost of a programme at each away match is £70, with every club charging £3 apart from Leeds United, who ask £4.
And buy a copy of the programme, priced £3.50, at each home game, and fans are looking at another £80.50.
Add that cost to the £2,801 and you get £2,951.50 before you have even factored in food, drink or parking.
If fans were to have just one pint (at a relatively conservative estimated price of around £3.30) and a pie (against, at a guestimated average of around £3) at each game that would add another £144.90 to away games.
At The Amex, a pie and a pint deal is available each game for £7. Have one of them at each game and you need to put aside £161.
All this means that for a Brighton fan to attend each game (buying tickets in advance), travelling by car, buying a programme and enjoying a pie and a pint would cost around £3,256.90 - an average of about £70 a match for 46 games.
Of course that does not take into account car shares or people who travel by train taking advantage of early deals, but it does provide a rough idea of the price of watching football week in, week out.
It would seem that the cost of football is not just something which is an issue in the top flight.
Brighton's chief executive has already told supporters that the cost of season tickets will increase next season, with the club looking to tackle estimated annual losses of around £8million since moving to The Amex from Withdean.
And supporters going to every game have already stumped up for cup games away at Swindon Town and at home against Newcastle United and Arsenal (being played later this month).
Fans of Premier League clubs have started an online petition calling for a £30 cap on the cost of tickets for away fans and similar campaigns are being mooted for the Football League.
However, although the issue of cost finally seems to be attracting attention in the national press, clubs lower down the leagues, who get far less television money, will be reluctant to drop prices and see a dip in what remains in many cases their biggest single revenue stream, bar perhaps the sale of star players.
And there is also the risk that if Premier League clubs DO use increasing TV revenues to reduce entrance fees that lower league and non league clubs could suffer.
If, for example, West Ham end up playing in the Olympic Stadium and can cut ticket prices while playing in the top flight, there are real fears for the future of Leyton Orient. Why, when you can watch top level games for around the same price as League One, would young people in the East End head to Brisbane Road?
Whatever the answer (and a proper distribution of TV money throughout the divisions would be a start) one thing is clear: following your favourite football club is an expensive business and one which increasingly fewer people can justify.