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Fans travel an average 1,970 miles a season

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

Football fans are going the distance in support of their team – and it’s an average 1,970 miles a season for domestic games across the Premier League and Football League, according to Virgin Money’s Football Fans’ Inflation Index.

The most miles a season are clocked up by West Bromwich Albion fans who claim to put in 3,290 miles a season going to league matches – an average of 86 miles for every Premier League game beating the 2,471 miles – or 65 miles a game – clocked up at Manchester City. Across the city Manchester United fans put in 2,238 miles a season or 58 miles a game.

Premier League fans travel an average 1,920 miles a season compared with 1,854 miles a season in the Championship and 2,072 miles a season in Football Leagues 1 and 2. That works out at 52 miles a league game in the Premier League, 45 miles a game in Football Leagues 1 and 2 and 42 miles a game in the Championship.

The research – which showed fans travelled 1,899 miles a season in 2009 and 2,031 miles in 2008 – underlines the expense of attending matches as outlined by Virgin Money’s Football Fans’ Inflation Index. It shows the average match day cost for fans is now £101.67 after a 4.2% rise in the past three months with the increase being driven by costs outside the clubs’ control, including petrol and train tickets.

Virgin Money say football clubs have cut costs –  with average ticket prices across all divisions said to be £24.32 while replica shirt costs have dropped to £32.54 – but petrol prices are at near record highs, while rail ticket prices also continue to rise. The average distance travelled by fans doesn’t tell the whole story – Virgin’s research with the Football Supporters’ Federation shows 15% of fans travel more than 4,000 miles a season and a hardcore 4% put in more than 10,000 miles a season.

Grant Bather, spokesman for Virgin Money, said: “Football fans literally do go the extra mile supporting their club and it’s good to see that clubs are doing what they can to keep costs down. But travelling to games is a major cost for fans whether it is in a car or on trains. When you add in the travel problems the whole country has suffered in the snow, it’s impressive that supporters clock up as many miles a season as they do and that’s without counting in any European travel.”

Malcolm Clarke, chair of the FSF, commented: “These travel figures show the incredible commitment of match-going fans in supporting their teams – a commitment which is essential not only for the live game but for the television product as well. With both fuel prices and rail fares recently rising to unprecedented levels, it will become even harder for fans to maintain this commitment, and clubs should recognise this in their ticket pricing policies.”

PREMIER LEAGUE CLUB – AVERAGE MILES TRAVELLED PER SEASON

  • West Brom – 3,290 miles
  • Manchester City – 2,471 miles
  • Chelsea – 2,416 miles
  • Liverpool – 2,262 miles
  • Manchester United – 2,238 miles
  • Newcastle United – 2,234 miles
  • Sunderland – 2,161 miles
  • Wolves – 2,071 miles
  • Everton – 2,048 miles
  • Blackpool – 2,021 miles
  • West Ham United – 1,837 miles
  • Tottenham Hotspur – 1,722 miles
  • Arsenal – 1,662 miles
  • Stoke City – 1,636 miles
  • Aston Villa – 1,567 miles
  • Birmingham City – 1,483 miles
  • Fulham – 1,344 miles
  • Wigan Athletic – 1,323 miles
  • Bolton Wanderers – 1,323 miles
  • Blackburn – Rovers 1,312 miles

The Virgin Money Football Fans’ Inflation Index, which measures the match day costs, shows the average price of going to a live game is now a hefty £101.67 compared with £97.50 in August 2010 but still below the high of October 2008 when it hit £106.21. The match day costs include a pint of lager, a match ticket, a replica shirt, and a match programme as well as some travel expenses.

Virgin Money’s Football Fans’ Index has tracked the cost of football since January 2006 and is aimed at helping supporters keep track of the rises and falls in the costs of supporting their team. The company identified the match day essentials fans buy and keeps tabs on increases and decreases. At the launch of the index in 2006, the so-called “match day basket” cost £77.95.  However the most recent analysis puts the cost at £101.67 – a rise of £23.72 since 2006.

The figures are taken from a survey carried out by the FSF between 30th November and 15th December 2010 which questioned 4,150 football fans.

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