Today’s FA Cup final between Chelsea and Manchester United at Wembley comes with a depressing footnote – some fans will pay the highest official ticket price in history for an English domestic football match: £145. Why are the tickets so extortionate?
Tickets for the final may start at £45, but it probably won’t come as a surprise to hear that this category has the lowest allocation. In 2017, just 10,144 seats were available at the lowest price.
The Manchester United Supporters’ Trust has branded the increases of up to 35% ‘extortionate’, claiming that ordinary fans are being priced out of seeing their team play.
‘Category two’ tickets were available for £85 for the previous two finals. This year? £115.
Andy Ambler, the FA’s director of professional game relations, was asked why prices had gone up in an interview for the FA’s official website. He defended the decision, saying:
“It’s always important to remember that The FA is a not-for-profit organisation where every pound and penny of profit is reinvested back into every level of football in England. If you’re buying a ticket for the semi-final or the Final you are directly investing in the future of the game in this country.”
Personally, I can’t help but feel that, at best, those words feel a little hollow. I’ve been playing amateur grassroots football for 10 years – I’ve not seen any improvements to the facilities we use at all, despite the vast sums of money at the top of the game. In fact, I’ve seen many clubs and entire leagues fold in this time.
The FA is of course still paying off the debts incurred by the rebuilding of Wembley Stadium. It’s been reported that the £757m cost won’t be paid off until 2024 – that’s 17 years after opening.
You’ll have also seen the stadium in the news lately as it became the subject of an offer by Shahid Khan – a deal said to be worth as much as £900m. Should it go ahead, it’s been suggested that significant sums could go back into grassroots facilities.
But is selling off the prized asset really going to make a difference to ticket prices and investments in the lower leagues? Given my own experiences, I’m not so sure we’ll see much of a difference.
How do you feel about the cost of tickets for football and other sports in the UK? Do you agree that ‘ordinary’ people are being priced out?