cashIt’s more than just a game. It’s a matter of life or death. Or should the saying be it’s a matter of life in debt?

Most guys think about football, on average 80 times a day. Reports have shown that costs of football have pushed 1 in 5 into debt. Virgin Money has found that the spiraling cost of the national obsession has pushed one Birmingham City fan £25,000 into debt and caused others to miss mortgage payments and spend house deposits. (I have no sympathy for him because he supports Birmingham City )

At first you think what the f**k? £25,000? And then you read that reports have shown that the average cost of going to a game is – including travel, a ticket, merchandise, food and drink – at £91.87, a 17.8% rise in the last year.

The bulk of the cost is in the ticket which, according to a survey by The Sun, 49% of fans consider a rip-off. A Spurs fan, (twat) said when he first got his season ticket 20 years ago the cost was around £8 a match. He says: “Over the years, the price steadily increased and now it’s around £35 a game.”

Season tickets can cost about the same as two months’ mortgage payments. Arsenal is the priciest, with an average season ticket price of £1,355. Spurs isn’t far behind with an average of £1,064, followed by Chelsea at £900 and Liverpool at £675. For the new season there have been even further hikes. Sunderland introduced the most shocking increase, at 19%, while Manchester United pushed prices up 14% and West Ham 7%. But to give credit where it’s due, there have been price freezes too – and even cuts. Arsenal, Newcastle, have frozen prices for the third year running, while some clubs have cut prices, including Wigan, Bolton, Aston Villa and Blackburn.

But the expense doesn’t end with the ticket, as there are also travel costs. Unless you live right next to the ground which is unlikely, it cost a fair amount just to get to the games.
There are also extra costs for away games. I go away games and I usually go on the supporters’ coach. The prices are Villa, Portsmouth and West Brom £23 per trip. Stoke £24. Bolton £32. Blackburn, Everton, Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd, and Wigan all priced at £33. Then the highest are at £35 to Hull City, Middleborough, Newcastle and Sunderland. Also however much the ticket is, plus I need spending money for food, drink and programmers.

But why is it so expensive over here but not in Spain, Italy or Germany? A recent survey by consumer group Which? Compared the cheapest seated season tickets for a number of international clubs. Arsenal was the most expensive at £885, a shocking nine times more expensive than Italian club Inter Milan at just £94.50. Even season tickets for huge clubs like Bayern Munich and Barcelona cost just £175.

The cost doesn’t stop at the games though does it? There are memberships, merchandise and the pleasure of watching you teams on Sky, should you not be able to afford to go to the game. Supporters want to wear the club shirt to matches. The replica football shirt scam was exposed back in 2003 when the Office of Fair Trading found that Manchester United had engaged in price fixing with the Football Association, Umbro and a number of other retailers between 2000 and 2001.

But it doesn’t take price fixing for these replica kits to be over-priced. There’s at least one new design for die-hard fans to buy each season, as even clubs that pledge a minimum lifespan of two seasons for each shirt will introduce a different kit or away-kit every year. For example, last season, Spurs unveiled four shirts for the 2007/08 season – a home, away, third and 125-year anniversary shirt, and the latter costing £55.

Because of loopholes, teams continue to take the piss by bringing out new kits every year. Arsenal being one of the worse.

So what can we do to stop getting ripped-off? Give up the season ticket? Don’t buy the shirts? Stop supporting the team or football altogether? I thought about all these and I can’t see me doing any of them. Because no matter how much it all cost me, I love match days like nothing else.

But those who give up their ticket are the exceptions to the rule, because it’s not that easy to give up on a passion. And even if this trickle becomes a flood, there will always be more fans to fill the seats, whatever the cost. There are 40,000 people on the waiting list for Arsenal, and we are the most expensive club in the Premiership, and while there are so many willing fans, the beautiful game will always come with some ugly expenses.

Wrote by All_Arsenal_1886 @ Goonersworld Forum