This article was originally published in Issue 10 of the Everton fanzine The Black Watch.
Back in 2016, the Premier League introduced a £30 price cap on all away tickets, as a response to the growing cost of following a Premier League team away from home.
Ticket prices were escalating, despite consistent growth in TV revenue making clubs richer than ever. Match categorisation was also an issue, where teams charged higher prices for the teams with the biggest away followings.
Campaigners originally sought a limit of £20 on away tickets – ‘Twenty’s Plenty’ – but eventually an agreement was reached to cap away ticket prices at £30.
The benefits of this for the matchgoing supporter are obvious. In 2015/16, the last season before the cap was introduced, 16 of the other 19 Premier League teams charged Evertonians over £30 for an away ticket. These included £52 for the Anfield derby (or a generous £51 for a restricted view), £55 in the highest category away end tickets at Chelsea and Man Utd, and £45 at Norwich and West Ham. I have no doubt many of these teams were charged equally outlandish prices at Goodison. Only Stoke (£30), West Brom (£25) and Newcastle (£25) charged Evertonians prices comparable to, or less than, the current cap.
An Evertonian who had attended every away game in 2015/16 would have paid as much as £743.50 for the privilege. In 2018/19, assuming every team will charge us £30, they will pay £570: a difference of £173.50. In total, across all three seasons, that equates to a saving of £520.50 on the prices charged in 2015/16.
That’s higher than the cost of a season-ticket in most parts of Goodison, and doesn’t take into account that some teams that have at times charged less than £30 (e.g. Southampton charged visiting fans £20 last season). A huge individual saving. The collective figure across the league will be huge.
The savings will no doubt be higher for the likes of the Manchester clubs, who were consistently charged Category A prices (many will remember the furore of the £62 ticket for Man City at Arsenal). At a time of obscene wealth in the game, and ever-increasing TV revenues through domestic and international audiences, the £30 limit has at least closed off one avenue of commercial exploitation of supporters.
The 2018/19 season is, as things stand, the last stand of the £30 price cap, as it was only introduced for three seasons. As more money than ever sloshes around the game, and more and more games are rearranged for TV-friendly kick-off times that inconvenience the away traveller, it would be a positive step for the away ticket price cap to be at least maintained, if not further reduced.
Depending who you listen to, the average price of a Premier League ticket is somewhere around the £30 mark (research commissioned by Sky last season suggested £32, while the BBC Price of Football survey suggested it was just over £29). Therefore, a continuation of the price cap would be in line with the approximate average price of a ticket. It’s been great to see Everton’s recent commitment to ticket pricing, offering tickets for £25 for the Watford and Newcastle home games to both home and away fans, both of which are evening kick-offs at a busy and expensive time of year.
Recent BBC research found that 11 of the 20 top-flight clubs could have let fans in for free in 2016/17 and still made a pre-tax profit, including Everton. Clubs are significantly less reliant on gate revenue than they used to be, and the case for any rise in prices, particularly those that have been capped for the benefit of away fans, will be very difficult to justify.
Editor, The Black Watch Fanzine
Premier League Away Ticket Prices 2015/16 (prices charged to Everton fans)
Arsenal (£36.50), Aston Villa (£41), Bournemouth (£33), Chelsea (£52/£55), Crystal Palace (£32), Leicester (£40), Liverpool (£52), Man City (£42/£44), Man Utd (£45/£46/£55), Newcastle (£25), Norwich (£45), Southampton (£39), Stoke (£30, Sunderland (£34), Swansea (£35), Tottenham, (£37/£41), Watford (£36), West Brom (£25), West Ham (£45).
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