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National Supporters Survey 2017: more results

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and Supporters Direct merged to become the FSA in 2019 – so this page may contain hyperlinks that do not work and/or have missing files. Our archived pages are not maintained and will not be updated.

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Earlier this year, we surveyed almost 8,500 football supporters to get their thoughts on the state of the game – the biggest survey of fans by fans since our last census in 2012.

Some of the headline figures have already been reported, you can see those here, and now we can release the results of the census in more detail. Take a look below…

  1. How old were respondents?
  2. Who filled it in? Gender breakdown
  3. What are their match-going habits?
  4. Where do they live?
  5. Matchday
  6. Disability
  7. Abuse & anti-social behaviour at the match
  8. Fans & the media
  9. Other
  • 8,495 supporters took part, from Friday 2nd June 2017 to Sunday 16th July.

Age breakdown:

  • Under 18 – 3.9%
  • 18 to 30 – 24.3%
  • 31 to 40 – 17.7%
  • 41 to 50 – 19%
  • 51 to 60 – 21%
  • 61 and over – 14.1%

Gender breakdown:

  • Men – 90.6% | Women – 9.1% | Transgender/other – 0.3%

Match attendance:

  • 58.4% attended at least 15 home matches last season, while 9.2% attended none.
  • 71.4% attended at least 1 away match last season, with 10% attending 15 or more.
  • 58.9% held a season ticket (3.1% of whom was shared with someone else).
  • 17.1% of season ticket holders are either probably or definitely not renewing their season ticket for 2017/18.


  • 51.4% of respondents live within 15 miles of their home ground, while 8.7% live more than 200 miles away.
  • Of those who attended at least 15 home matches last season, however, only 2% lived more than 200 miles away, while 64.5% of home regulars lived within 15 miles.


  • Only 45% of fans agreed that the matchday attendance at their club was representative of the community around the stadium/town
  • 89.5% thought it important that their club gave something back to the local community, while 70.5% of fans agreed that their club invested and engaged with its local community and grassroots initiatives.
  • 80.2% would be happy taking their young family to a game at their club.
  • 75.4% of fans agreed that football stadiums were more welcoming of ethnic minorities than 10 years ago, but when looking at responses from those who identified as non-White British or Irish, that figure actually went up to 80.3%.
  • 83.7% thought clubs should be forced to offer restricted views at half price.
  • 36.6% of fans are attending fewer games in recent seasons, with the most commonly cited reasons for the drop in attendance being work/family commitments (37.2%), high ticket prices (36.4%) and a disillusion with football in general (22.5%). Only 7.2% cited the increased availability of football on TV as a reason for a drop in attendance.
  • 42.1% of fans have been unable to attend a game in the past season because it was moved for TV, while 21.5% have decided not to attend a game they otherwise would because it was being broadcast.
  • Just under one in six fans had lost either money paid on travel or hotels for re-arranged fixtures (14.8%) or had lost days off at work because of games being moved (15.1%).


  • 4.5% consider themselves to have a disability
  • Overall, 30.5% of fans thought football was far better or a little better than most industries when it came to its treatment of disabled customers. When analysing the responses of those fans who described themselves as having a disability, however, this drops to 22.3%
  • Similarly, only 25.2% of fans thought football was a little worse or far worse than other industries – 43.8% of disabled supporters said the same.
  • When it comes to ensuring clubs meet the Equality Act, 33% of fans agree that clubs should move existing season ticket holders to make the necessary adjustments to disabled supporter capacity, while 30% think that nobody should move and the clubs should add additional capacity.
  • Overall, 62.8% of fans thought that fellow disabled supporters were absolutely or mostly given adequate respect, with just 15.2% thinking that they were either given not enough, or none at all. Among disabled supporters themselves, however, 50.8% believe that disabled fans are given adequate respect, and 34.6% said they were either given not enough, or none at all.

Abuse and anti-social behaviour at the match:

  • Roughly 1 in 5 fans have experienced either racist, homophobic or sexist language at the match.
  • 28.9% have heard other language they consider offensive from a supportive.
  • Police behaviour has improved, with around one in four (22.5%) fans witnessing unfair/unnecessary treatment from a police officer, down from one in three (32.4%) in 2012. 58.8% of fans agreed with the statement that policing had improved in recent seasons, too, with only 13.5% disagreeing.
  • Stewarding has marginally improved, too, with 41.1% of fans witnessing unfair/unnecessary treatment from club stewards, down from 46.6%.
  • 72.7% of fans who travel to away matches notice a difference in the way they are policed by different forces around the country, and 69.9% of fans agreed that there’s too wide a disparity between the quality of stewarding at different clubs.
  • 37.3% of fans have been in the vicinity of a smoke bomb or flare being discharged, with almost one in four (24.6%) witnessing or experiencing anti-social behaviour on the concourse.
  • 55.6% of fans feel confident that if they reported an incident of discrimination to their club that it would be dealt with appropriately, while 15.7% had little or no confidence their club would deal with discrimination effectively.
  • 65.1% of fans think that the prospect of abuse from fans is a major hurdle in preventing active players from coming out as gay, while 12.3% do not.

Fans and the media:

  • 91.1% of respondents indicated they consumed some form of football-related content at least 5 days a week through the season, with 71.8% saying they did so daily.
  • Fans still turn to their club for the latest up-to-date news, with the official website and social media feeds being the way that most fans keep up with their team (76.5% and 71.9% respectively). The rise in fan-produced content, however, is strong – with fan blogs/forums/websites accounting for how 65% of fans keep in the loop.
  • Supporters are equally likely to follow key fan Twitter accounts as they are a local journalist (47.2% compared with 42%), but it’s bad news for print journalism with just 1 in 4 (25.5%) using their local paper to stay abreast of what’s going on.
  • When looking only at supporters aged 30 and under, the use of social media is even more prevalent – with 91.9% relying on the club’s social media accounts, 62.2% following local journalists on Twitter and 63.7% relying on fan Twitter accounts.
  • When it comes to general football news, the big hitters are football-specific programmes such as Match of the Day, and sports news TV channels, such as Sky Sports News, commanding the attention of 61.6% and 63.3% of fans’ attention respectively. The biggest draw, though, are sports news websites such as BBC Sport, for which 69% of fans rely on their news fix.
  • Fans are almost twice as likely to turn to national outlets for general football news, with national radio like talkSPORT or 5Live (43.9%) or a national newspaper’s website (35.5%) scoring above local newspapers and radio (14.6% and 20.8%)
  • 39.2% of fans admitted to watching an illegal online stream of a game within the last year, but when looking at those aged 30 and under that figure jumps to 57.7%.
  • Perhaps the above plays into the idea that 68.6% of fans agreed with the statement that clubs should do more to improve connectivity (eg wifi and phone reception) within stadiums.


  • Only 32% of fans agreed with the idea that their club cared about them and their views.
  • Only 39.4% of fans believed that their players have a loyalty to their club.
  • There was overwhelming support in favour of trials of video referees for game-changing decisions, with 74.6% of fans in favour, while only 31.1% would be in favour of extra officials behind the goal being introduced (46% are opposed).
  • Fans were even more in favour of goal-line technology – 84.7% agreed it had been a success.
  • Strangely, 0.7% of fans thought it was better to watch a match on TV than attend it live.
  • The majority of fans (61.5%) were against the expansion of the World Cup to 48 teams, with only 16.3% in favour, while opinion was split on whether the expanded 24-team Euros had been a success – 30.2% of fans thought yes, while 38.5% disagreed.
  • When it comes to opinions on the Euros in 2020 being held across 13 different countries, however, there was more of a consensus – 75.2% agreed it was a bad idea.
  • Fans were also split on the contentious issue of footballers who’d committed serious criminal offences. 46.1% thought that they should not be allowed to return to the game, while 32.4% were in favour of allowing players back into the fold.
  • A local connection between players and fans is important – 78% agreed it was important that their club had local players representing it.
  • Only 18.5% of fans believe that post-goal music helps the atmosphere at matches – 65.9% of fans are against it.
  • Fans are still traditionalists when it comes to cup competitions – only one in four (25.7%) want to see the abolition of replays between Premier League sides in the cup; 56.7% are in favour of retaining them.
  • Even if it meant retaining the Christmas and New Year fixtures, 50.1% of fans were against a winter break, with 34.6% in favour.
  • Fans overwhelmingly want a say in how their teams are run, with 89.5% agreeing that fans should have representation on club boards.
  • While most fans agree that there aren’t too many games in a season (only 16.1% thought so) it may be that TV coverage is reaching saturation point – 50.9% agree that football on TV is losing its appeal.
  • 69.8% of fans think there should be a salary cap in football.
  • 63.5% of fans think that swearing and bad language is part of watching football; but it’s not just a male thing – when breaking it down by gender, 58.9% of women agree, too.
  • There was almost unanimous agreement that TV companies have too much sway in deciding kick-off times – 95.9% of fans agreed, while 67.7% agreed that Premier League clubs focussed too much on overseas fans to the detriment of their local fanbase.
  • The EFL Cup has lost its significance according to 70.7% of respondents. The FA Cup fares slightly better, but 55.7% agree that it has lost its significance. That figure drops to 49.3% among fans of non-league and amateur clubs.
  • 72.7% of fans are in favour of retaining the 3pm blackout to protect lower league clubs.

Thanks to Action Images for the image used in this post.

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Funding partners

  • The Football Association
  • Premier Leage Fans Fund


  • Gamble Aware
  • Co-operatives UK
  • FSE
  • Kick It Out
  • Level Playing Field
  • Living Wage Foundation
  • Pledgeball