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Family's bill for watching Saints home and away this season could be £6,000
THE Premier League kicks off next weekend and, more than ever before, the money involved in football at the highest level is soaring.
As the top clubs get ever richer, the stellar names can command salaries of over £200,000 a week, while former Saints youngster Gareth Bale is being touted as the world’s first £100m transfer to Real Madrid.
Mauricio Pochettino’s team, who open their campaign against West Bromwich Albion next Saturday, are part of the top flight which saw £1.7 billion spent on players’ wages last term. That was led by Manchester City, whose annual wage bill topped an astronomical £200m – while Swansea’s was just £35m.
And with television money worth more than £5.5 billion – both domestically and overseas – and the clubs making revenue of around £2.36 billion, which is set to rise further in 2013/14, where does this leave the supporters? Just how much can a family expect to pay to watch Saints this season?
Well, for a family of Saints fans keen to watch the club’s star names such as Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and £12m signings Gaston Ramirez and Victor Wanyama, the bill for every match, home and away, could be just over £6,000.
The cost of watching 19 league games at St Mary’s alone costs a family of four around £2,656 – and that figure rises to just over £3,500 for away games when travel prices are factored in.
Season tickets in the Kingsland Stand for the whole family are £1,952 – £656 each for adults, £194 for under-11s and £446 for 17-year-olds and below.
Along with replica shirts, costing £50, half-time refreshments and a programme at £3, the match-day experience is a costly day out for a family.
Travelling to every away game by car in 2013/14 will clock up 6,647 miles, based on driving from St Mary’s to 19 away grounds.
The longest journey, to St James’ Park in Newcastle, is a mammoth 644-mile round trip; the nearest, Chelsea, is still a 154-mile round trip.
With the average household earning around £50,000 a year, which the majority of Premier League players earn in a week, the cost of watching top flight football is around 13 per cent of the family annual income.
Last season, rising ticket prices hit the national headlines when Manchester City fans were charged a whopping £62 to watch their team at Arsenal.
As a result, the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) launched a campaign to cap the price of away tickets at £20.
Rival fans were urged to join forces to back the FSF’s Twenty’s Plenty drive. We wait to see whether their actions actually help drive prices down.
But at St Mary’s, families can get a cheaper deal. Richard Byres, a lifelong Saints supporter, and his wife Helen take their sons Joe and Sam to every home game and most away fixtures.
He explained how the club have helped.
“What Saints do for my kids is fantastic,” he said.
“The prices are scary and for a season ticket it is expensive, but what Saints have done for us is let me have one of the season tickets for free in the Chapel Stand,” he said.
“I know it can be a lot more expensive elsewhere, but the support I’ve got from the club is brilliant. Obviously, compared to the 80s, when it was much cheaper for a ticket, the prices are crazy, but there has been help to make it cheaper on us, which is good.
“My boys would much rather go to a game than the cinema, so we decide to go to football games rather than go and do other things.
“I’ve been to watch football in Italy and Germany, where the prices are cheaper, but while the stadiums fill up in this country there is no reason to change the cost, but it is costly. The stadium environment at Saints is safe and friendly. My mum took me when I was a kid, and I want to do the same for mine.
“We’d much rather go to St Mary’s than another day out or activity.”
Saints are by no means the most expensive top flight club to support, though. West Ham United are charging supporters £850 to sit in their equivalent to the Kingsland.
Elsewhere in the cash-rich capital, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham fans could be paying up to £2,000 for a single season ticket in their premium areas.
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