Even though there are loads of footy matches shown on TV, it’s never quite the same as watching it live at a stadium. But it can be pricey to support your team in person.
I’m a Crystal Palace fan, and heading to Selhurst Park is one of my ‘luxuries’, especially now that I’ve got to factor in a train from Yorkshire down to London.
Fortunately, ticket prices aren’t too bad, especially when compared to other London Premier League teams, as the BBC Cost of Football report from a few years ago showed. Things are likely to have changed a little since then, but the research showed we had the cheapest cup of tea (just £1!) but sold the priciest pies (at £4).
But the expenses don’t stop there. You can add on top buying things like programmes and maybe a shirt too. And lets not forget actually getting to the match.
If these spiralling costs put you off going to matches, here’s my starting 11 of ways to save money at football games.
Getting your ticket
Buy online or in person rather than on the phone
Something I don’t like about Palace is that the box office is 10p a minute and normal ways around it (such as SayNoTo0800 don’t work). However, going through their online service is quick, easy – and cheaper.
Share and spread the cost of a season ticket
Season tickets will always work out cheaper per ticket. But if it’s too much money, or you don’t have the time, consider getting a couple between a group of you. You won’t go to every game but you will pay less per ticket.
Alternatively (or as well) 0% credit cards let you make a big purchase and not get charged interest on the full amount – as long as you make the minimum repayments each month. So you could get a season ticket like this to take advantage of the lower matchday price. Only do this if you can be sure you’ll have enough to pay it off in full at the end of the 0% period.
If you can’t make a game see if the club lets you sell back seats. It varies from club to club, but if they do it you’ll only get the money if they manage to sell it. Sold out matches are your best bet.
Get a membership
A club membership should give you advance booking, essential for popular games so you can avoid touts. Check too for a discount in the club shop, free online match programmes or even a match day discount.
Go to away games
The Premier League has a cap of £30 on away games, making it a much cheaper option than most home games. Sadly there isn’t a cap in other leagues.
In the past I’ve even picked up tickets for the odd game from sites like Groupon, so it’s worth checking them out and signing up for email updates, though this is more likely for matches lower down the leagues.
Check for concession prices
My student card (from the now closed NUS card loophole) is still valid, and my dad is retired, so we save £10 to £15 a ticket with a student and senior discount respectively. It’s always worth checking just what is available.
Go on family days
Palace used to do a ‘Kids for a quid’ day, and many clubs around the country do something similar. If you’ve got a family this cuts the cost dramatically.
Book your transport well in advance
If you’re going by train, book your ticket as soon as you know a match isn’t going to be moved for TV. The broadcasters normally announce the fixture changes a couple of months in advance so you should be able to pick up advance fairs.
Look for coach travel deals with the club
It can sometimes be tough to get fans to travel, particularly if it involves going long distances or are mid-week late-kickoffs. So clubs might put on cheap, or even free coach travel. If you’re a member you should find out about this stuff, but definitely sign up to any mailing lists.
When you’re at the game
Buy a fanzine rather than a programme
According to the BBC report, Premier League programmes are usually £3.50, while Championship, League One and League two clubs tend to charge £3. With so much information online you rarely get anything new in a programme. But you do in a fanzine. Palace has a great fan-produced magazine called Five Year Plan. It’s only £2 and often more entertaining than the same old content from official programmes. There are hundreds out there, whatever your team. Just keep a lookout at the turnstiles before going in.
If you want team sheets and season stats, use the Sky Sports Score Centre app and Soccerbase.com.
Don’t buy food and drink at the game
Ok, it might be part of the ritual, but seeing as you can’t take your pint (or more likely plastic bottle) of beer onto the stands you’re going to spend 10 minutes queuing at halftime and five minutes necking it. It’s a waste of time, and you’ll avoid overpaying for a pretty rancid pint.
You can save on soft drinks as most clubs will let you bring in a sealed 500ml bottle of water.
And unless it’s an early or late kick-off, match time is hardly lunchtime. So eat before or after. You’ll get better food for better value. And you can avoid paying £4 for a crap pie.
Shop around for your shirt
Unless you’ve got a decent discount at the Club shop with a season ticket or membership, you’ll probably save money on your kit if you shop around. As I wrote ahead of last year’s World Cup, there are ways to save on personalising your shirt and some decent deals on retro kits.
Cheapest ways to watch it on TV
The atmosphere and experience are nowhere near the same, but you can get cheap day passes to watch Sky Sports at home for £8.99 (if not lower via special offers – see the latest Now TV deals here).
Or why not see if a friend or family member has Sky Sports or BT Internet and will lend you their log-in details? Bung them a fiver and everyone’s happy. Here’s my full Cheapest way to watch Premier League and other football on TV article.