Even though there’s loads of footy 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. Fortuntately ticket prices aren’t too bad, especially when compared to other Premier League teams, as the BBC Cost of Football report showed. We also have the cheapest cup of tea (just £1!) – although the club does sell the priciest pies at £4. But it doesn’t stop there. You can add on top things like programmes and maybe a shirt too.
If these spiralling costs put you off going to matches, here’s my starting 11 of ways to save money at football games.
1. Find out if there’s a student price for tickets
If so, you’re onto a winner – even if you aren’t a student! You might be saving £10 to £15 a ticket and all you need is an NUS card. It’ll cost you around £20 to get one (all explained in my How anyone can get a student discount blog post), but with this and the other savings you’ll make it’s well worth it.
2. 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.
3. 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 match day 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.
4. Get a membership
A membership might give you advance booking, essential for popular games so you can avoid touts. Check too for aa discount in the club shop or even a match day discount.
5. 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 in other leagues there isn’t the cap.
In the past I’ve 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.
6. 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 a family it cuts the cost dramatically.
7. 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.
8. 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 have a great fan-produced magazine called Five Year Plan. It’s only £1.50 and often more entertaining than the same old content from official programmes. There are hundreds out there, whatever your team. Just keep a look out at the turnstiles before going in.
If you want team sheets and season stats, use the Sky Sports Score Centre app and Soccerbase.com.
9. 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 too 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.
10. 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 the World Cup, there are ways to save on personalising your shirt and some decent deals on retro kits.
11. 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 as low as £7.99 (see the latest Now TV deals here). Or why not see if a friend or family member has Sky Spors 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 football on TV article.