As a fan of any sport, one of the more challenging aspects of supporting a team can be getting your hands on tickets. It generally boils down to two main barriers: availability and price. Often, tickets to sporting events, especially those involving the more popular teams, sell out quickly or well ahead of time. If tickets are available, they are often priced out of reach of most fans. At first glance, a partial remedy to this problem can be the season ticket. A season’s ticket usually grants access to all of a team’s home matches and some additional perks. These perks can range from discounts on merchandise to priority ranking for future ticket sales and access to playoff tickets. Sounds pretty good, right? The problem is that in many sports leagues around the globe there are long waiting lists for season tickets. Fans of tops teams can expect to wait a long time.
In the NFL, for example, a fan signing up on the waiting list for a season ticket for the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots or New York Giants can expect an estimated waiting time of 50 years or more. Yet, the NFL is not unique in this respect. Across the ‘pond’, fans of the Premier League’s biggest and most popular teams are finding themselves placed on lists with tens of thousands of others, all searching for a season ticket to their favorite club. Each year, the 20 EPL clubs sell approximately 480,000 season tickets. These range in price from $500 to over $3000 and at a minimum include all 19 home league games. The most expensive tickets, however, usually have the best seating in the stadium and offer more than the basic 19 home games. So, what are some of the most expensive season tickets in the EPL?
5 Manchester United: $1560
Manchester United, also known as the Red Devils, are the reigning 2012/13 EPL Champions. Since 1910, United have played their home matches at Old Trafford, a 75,000 seat stadium nicknamed the ‘Theatre of Dreams.’ Given their success on the pitch and massive global fan-base, match-day tickets to a home game can be difficult to find. Season’s tickets are even harder to come by and you are prompted to sign up on a waiting list when searching the club’s home internet site.
At around $1560, the most expensive season ticket for Manchester United guarantees you’ll be watching the game from the upper-middle section of the first tier of the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand. Beyond providing an excellent view of the pitch and team benches across the field, this ticket provides the same benefits as the other, less expensive, season tickets. In addition to all home league matches, holders are automatically allocated tickets to cup competitions, both domestic and European. For the 19 home games, this ticket equates to around $82 a match. This does not include, however, the added expense of potential cup matches.
No doubt, any added bonus to holding this ticket must be the chance of bumping into Ferguson himself or spotting him checking his watch as injury time winds down.
4 Fulham F.C.: $1640
This team definitely stands out when you compare them with the other teams listed here. Located in south-west London, Fulham have never won a major title and never finished higher than 7th place in the Premier League. The team hosts their matches on the banks of the Thames river in the 25,700 seat Craven Cottage, the third smallest EPL stadium. On average, Fulham have replaced managers every three and a half years. This trend is likely to continue as new owner, chairman and mustache aficionado Shahid Khan looks to boost the team’s standing in the years to come.
For a club which is not a traditional powerhouse of English football, Fulham’s most expensive season ticket is pricey indeed. In addition to the 19 home league matches, this ticket gives a fan a seat in the Riverside Stand. This section of the stadium backs onto the Thames and is elevated, unlike the other three stands, to provide a better view of the pitch. Further benefits include priority and discounts on away tickets, a subscription to the team’s magazine, discounts on tickets for friends and a 10% discount on club merchandise.
The premium season ticket holder may think $86 per match is a bit steep for a club which hasn’t really won anything. This concern is likely laid to rest once Billy the Badger, Fulham’s break-dancing mascot, takes to the pitch and busts a move. This is where you make all your money back.
3 Chelsea F.C.: $2050
Over the past 15 years, Chelsea have grown to be one of the powerhouses of the EPL. With the massive cash infusions of Russian billionaire and owner Roman Abramovich, the south-west London club have captured numerous league titles, cups and even the UEFA Champions League title. The path to victory has not always been straightforward. Over the past several years, Chelsea managers have lasted about as long as one of Taylor Swift’s boyfriends. Like the country singer, the club just can't seem to settle down. Nonetheless, the Blues still entertain their fans and challenge for top honors at their 41,000 seat stadium, Stamford Bridge. They are currently managed by Jose Mourinho. The self-anointed ‘Special One’ is on his second round of managing the London club, having left back in 2007.
Chelsea’s most expensive season ticket is the third highest in the EPL. In addition to all 19 home league matches, the season ticket gives you priority when it comes to buying cup and UEFA tickets. Of course, cup and UEFA tickets would have to be purchased at additional expense. For an additional $1400, Blues fans can add on the 19 away league matches as well. In combination with the most expensive season ticket, such a package would equate to $90 a match which isn’t bad value at all.
2 Tottenham Hotspur: $3030
Located in North London, Tottenham Hotspur have become a consistent challenger for one of the coveted top four positions in the EPL. The Spurs play their games at White Hart Lane, a stadium originally opened in 1899 and updated and enlarged to hold over 36,000 spectators. Having hired and fired a number of managers over the past several years, Tottenham are currently under the management of Tim Sherwood, himself a former Spur. Tickets for White Hart Lane are just as challenging to find as other clubs. The season ticket waiting list in well into the tens of thousands. Talks of a new stadium development, one with significantly more seating, provide hope that a good number of those waiting will soon be rewarded.
The most expensive Tottenham season ticket is known as the Platinum ticket. For a little over $3000, a Platinum member can have access to all league games, cup ties and UEFA home matches, should the club qualify. Even if only the 38 EPL games are taken into consideration, a Platinum membership equates to $80 a match. If you add up the potential cup and UEFA home matches, the ‘bang-for-your-buck’ value of a Platinum ticket increases even further.
1 Arsenal F.C.: $3275
Arsenal are another North London club and long time rivals of Tottenham. Under the management of Arsène Wenger, Arsenal have become known for playing attractive attacking football. Although failing to win a single trophy in the last eight seasons, the Gunners are perennial top-four finishers, which qualifies them for the added attraction of UEFA Champions League football. Arsenal play their games in one of the newest EPL stadiums, the Emirates Stadium, which was opened in 2006 and has a capacity of over 60,000. Like the other clubs listed here, tickets for an Arsenal match can be a challenge to get. Season tickets require waiting on an ever growing waiting list with tens of thousands of others.
At $3275, Arsenal have the league’s most expensive season ticket. Expensive for a team that has gone trophy-less for the last 8 years? Perhaps. That said, the price paid for a ticket not only provides one of the best seats for 19 home league matches, it also includes 7 cup competition matches as well. This works out to around $116 per match. Perhaps where the value is lost in this ticket is when you factor in the Capitol One Cup games. Tickets for these matches can usually be had at a far cheaper price and are generally less sought after in the early rounds of the competition.
Of course, any season ticket for Arsenal provides a fan with 26 opportunities to watch Wenger struggle with the zipper on his puffy coat or enjoy the hilarious antics of Gunnersaurus – the team mascot. Who doesn’t enjoy watching a grown man in a dinosaur costume kicking a soccer ball around?
It’s not too difficult to search through fan forums and news sites to find articles and posts about outrage over high Premier League ticket prices. Breaking down the prices of the top five most expensive EPL season tickets shows that estimated rates can range from $116 downward. In the realm of professional sports, this isn’t bad. To put it in a little more perspective, a premium New York Yankee’s season ticket can cost well over $20,000 and average out at around $235 a game. A higher-end Toronto Maple Leafs game ticket will run you over $350 per game. Keep in mind, at neither of these events could you dream of eating a meat pie while watching a break-dancing badger.