PREMIER League football risks pricing itself out of the reach of the fan in the street, fears a SAFC fanzine editor.
Martyn McFadden, editor of A Love Supreme, was speaking in the wake of a national survey by the Ashbrooke-based national Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF), which identified ticket prices as the number one concern among fans.
More than 92 per cent listed soaring prices as their main gripe with the state of the game.
The Black Cats are one of the cheaper options in the top flight, with season ticket prices starting at £425, but Martyn says it is travelling to support the Lads that really hits fans in the pocket.
“I would say it is more of a issue for away games than for Sunderland,” he said.
“I see Manchester City have put their prices up in line with what Manchester United and Chelsea charge. That means three away games – 15 per cent of the away fixtures this season – are going to cost people £50.
“That’s horrendous, especially when you add in the cost of your travel, food, a couple of pints.
“I think I spent about £200 the last time I went to Chelsea, just to watch 90 minutes of football.”
The knock-on effect of higher prices were visible on TV screens of the weekend’s season-opening fixtures, he added.
“Watching the highlights at the weekend, it was a shame to see some of the stadiums with empty seats.
“It used to be that the first day of the season was a sell-out.”
Clubs were trying to encourage more families to go to games on the one hand, but making it harder on the other.
“The young fans who are working full-time and maybe still living at home can afford to go,” said Martyn. “Once they get married, buy a house and have kids other priorities kick in.
“I think a lot of people would love to follow Sunderland home and away but can’t afford to – that’s why people are watching the games on internet streams and in pubs and bars.”
More than 4,000 supporters replied to the FSF’s 2012 National Fans’ Survey.
“There’s a huge amount of wealth swilling among Premier League clubs, and there’s no excuse to keep charging the prices they often do,” said chairman Malcolm Clarke.
“It’s about time that match-going fans were rewarded with lower prices rather than having to fork out as much as £50 or £60 to watch their team at some grounds.
“But it’s not just the top-flight where fans face high prices – those in the Championship and beyond can face similar hurdles in following their teams.
“The game is playing Russian roulette when it comes to attracting younger fans, who might start voting with their feet to become ‘pub only’ fans, or even turn their backs on the game altogether.”