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National Supporters’ Survey 2023: more stats

Earlier this year, we surveyed almost 10,000 football supporters to get their thoughts on the state of the game – the biggest survey of fans by fans since our last census in 2017.

Some of the headline figures on support for an independent regulator and views on VAR 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. Who were the respondents?
  2. Matchday and fan behaviour
  3. Women’s game
  4. Cost of living
  5. Competitions
  6. Other

9,675 fans filled in the survey, which ran online between 20th March and 18th April. Figures have been rounded to one decimal place, and certain questions allowed more than one response, or for respondents to prefer not to give an answer, so figures will not always add up to 100%.

Age breakdown

  • Under 18 – 1.4%
  • 18 to 25 – 6.2%
  • 26 to 35 – 12.8%
  • 36 to 45 – 16%
  • 46 to 55 – 18.8%
  • 56 to 65 – 24.7%
  • Over 65 – 19.3%

Gender breakdown

  • Male – 83.8%
  • Female – 14.5%
  • Non-binary/other – 0.7%

Who do you support?

  • 63.9% support only one men’s team
  • 16.7% support more than one men’s team
  • 4.2% support only one women’s team
  • 2.6% support more than one women’s team
  • 21% support both a men’s and women’s team
  • 1.5% described themselves as general football fans without a particular team

Match attendance

  • 60.4% attended at least 15 home matches last season, while 9.4% attended none
  • 67.4% attended at least one away match last season, with 11.7% attending 15 or more.
  • 65% held a season ticket (3.1% of whom shared it with friends/family)
  • 11.1% of season ticket holders are either probably or definitely not renewing for 2023/24

Matchday and fan behaviour

  • Almost half of fans (48.6%) live within 15 miles of their home team’s stadium, while one in ten (10.8%) live more than 200 miles away. 
  • Two thirds of fans (65.7% agreed with the statement that swearing and bad language was part of watching football. 
  • Opinions on drinking within sight of the pitch are split – 39.2% are in favour of a ban, while 44.8% are opposed. 
  • Roughly 1 in 5 fans have experienced either racist, homophobic or sexist language at the match, the same proportion as in our 2017 survey.
  • 29.7% have heard other language they consider offensive from a supporter. 
  • Two thirds (63.3%) were confident that their club would deal with a report of discrimination appropriately, up from 55.6% in 2017. 
  • The numbers reporting having seen unfair/unnecessary treatment from police and stewards has almost halved since our 2012 survey. The proportion who have witnessed bad policing behaviour has fallen from 32.4% to just 16.7%, while for stewarding that number has fallen from 46.6% to 25% in the same timeframe.
  • A third of fans (33.1%) have been in the vicinity of a smoke bomb/flare being discharged, down from 37.3%. 
  • There’s no consensus on whether fan behaviour is improving, however – 36.3% agreed that the standards of behaviour have deteriorated in the past few seasons, while 31.8% disagreed.

Women’s Game

Around a quarter of our respondents indicated that they supported a women’s team, and there were a number of topics that we were keen to get their opinions on when it comes to the women’s game. 

  • Four in five (80.7%) agreed that more money should be distributed from the men’s game to support the growth of the women’s game
  • Just over a quarter (29.2%) agreed that women’s teams should be independent from their men’s equivalent
  • Support for VAR in the women’s game was less than half (45.5%), with a third (33.1%) against. 
  • Almost half disagreed that there was sufficient coverage of the women’s game in the mainstream media/on national TV, with only a third (35.9%) agreeing that the coverage was adequate. 
  • Three quarters (74.2%) agreed that women’s teams should be allowed to stream their games even during the 3pm blackout.
  • Only one in ten (10.4%) thought the women’s league cup had lost its relevance to fans. 

Cost of living

  • 16.1% of our respondents are attending more games in recent seasons, while a quarter (26%) say they are attending fewer.
  • Of those who are attending less, the main reasons cited were: work and family commitments (30.9%), high ticket prices (30.3%), inability to access tickets (22.8%), a change in financial circumstances (21.9%) and feeling disillusioned with football in general (17.9%).
  • Two in five (40%) fans said the rising cost of living has impacted on how much they are able to spend on football, and fans are overall spending less – 31.9% have reduced their typical matchday spend, as opposed to just 17.4% who say it has increased.
  • There was strong support for an away ticket price cap in the EFL – almost nine in ten (88.2%) were in favour, and similarly in the FA Cup with 83.3% in favour. 
  • There was also majority support, however, for lower league sides being able to raise ticket prices for cup matches against top-flight opposition – 51.8% were in favour, with 21.9% against. 

Competitions

  • 36.2% of respondents believe the FA Cup has lost its relevance to fans, while that figure rises to half (50.7%) when asked about the League Cup.
  • There is no support for moving the FA Cup to midweek – only 7.1% of fans were in favour of a midweek competition. 
  • There is still strong support for replays – 69.5% of fans believe they are an important aspect of the FA Cup, while only a third (38.8%) believe that if both clubs agree in advance that they should be allowed to avoid a replay and go straight to extra time and penalties. 
  • Half of respondents (51%) were in favour of playing the League Cup semi-finals over one leg rather than two – a third (32.6%) preferred keeping the two legged format.  
  • Only a quarter (26.1%) were in favour of abolishing replays in the FA Cup. 

Other

  • The majority of fans (59.1%) support the retention of the 3pm blackout to protect lower league clubs.
  • Just under half of fans (46.9%) agreed with the statement that their club cares about them and their views.
  • Less than half of respondents (45.1%) agree that clubs value away fans and their impact on the game.
  • One in five (19.9%) fans believes that goal music helps the atmosphere at matches.  
  • Three quarters (73.1%) are concerned about the amount of gambling advertising and sponsorship around football, and two thirds (66.2%) believe that gambling sponsorship in football should be banned. 
  • Around two thirds (63%) of fans favoured a direct-to-consumer Netflix-style app for watching Premier League games over subscribing to multiple broadcasters. 
  • Three quarters (75.4%) said that the supporters groups at their club do a good job of representing fans and their interests.
  • Only a quarter (26.6%) agreed their club was doing enough to cut down on the climate change impact of their activities. 
  • Less than a quarter (22.9%) said that the standard of refereeing at games they watch is acceptable. 
  • Half of respondents (52%) agreed there are not enough women in senior positions within football.
  • Almost a quarter (22.5%) agree that clubs competing in Europe should not enter the League Cup.
  • Only one in ten (11.5%) fans are in favour of the expansion of the men’s World Cup from 32 to 48 teams.

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