How to cut the cost of being a football fan

There are cheaper ways to support your Premier League teams and see more goals for your money

Chelsea players celebrate with the trophy after winning the Women's Super League in May Credit: MATTHEW CHILDS/Action Images via Reuters

When the Lionesses beat Germany last weekend, a new generation of football fans was forged. And while the beautiful game is a notoriously pricey sport to follow, families can make huge savings by focusing their new-fangled fandom on women’s football over men’s.

The average fan of a Premier League club spends north of £1,000 a year on tickets, merchandise and travel to and from games, according to the European Football Benchmark 2021 report published by Statistica, a research firm. Taking into account the lower divisions, the average fan of the men’s game still has to find around £700 a year, the report found.

You can find value for money at some Premier League clubs: season tickets can cost as little as £299 for 19 home games at West Ham United’s London Stadium. But for better seats, fans can easily spend close to £1,000, while the most expensive season ticket, for Tottenham Hotspur, costs more than £2,000.

An equally enjoyable but dramatically cheaper alternative exists at almost every club in the Premier League. Some 13 of the 20 clubs in the men’s Premier League have teams in the top two tiers of women’s football: the Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship.

The cost of attending the games is substantially cheaper. In some cases the price of a season ticket for the women’s season is what you would pay to see just a single men’s game. This is the case at eight clubs: Arsenal, Brighton, Leicester, Manchester City, Manchester United, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham.

Season ticket holders for women's football get more goals for their money Credit: JASON CAIRNDUFF/Action Images via Reuters

There are qualifications, of course. The Women’s Super League consists of 12 teams, and the Premier League 20. That means there are only 11 women’s home games to the men’s 19, so season tickets offer fewer matches for the money. Each club is different, but men’s season tickets often include or allow first refusal on FA Cup, League Cup and Champions League games.

Some men’s season tickets even include a ticket to every women’s league game, so the costs are combined.
Then of course there are the simple factors of supply and demand. Some 14 of the 20 sides in the Premier League have waiting lists for season tickets; some even charge up to £20 just to be on that list.

Nonetheless, both season ticket holders and casual fans could find huge savings by turning their back on the men – while watching more goals for their money. Last season’s Women’s Super League champions, Chelsea, won 18 of their 22 games, a huge 80pc win ratio, and scored 62 goals in the process, an average of 2.8 goals per game. A ticket to home games this year, to watch such potentially prolific victories, costs between £9 and £10 for adults – children’s tickets are even cheaper.

By contrast, fans would have to spend a minimum of £25 to attend a men’s game and could be forced to pay as much as £71. In return, there was just a 55pc chance of victory and, on average, two goals per game.

Similar examples of value for money can be seen across the women’s game. Fans of Arsenal, who finished second in the women’s league and won 77pc of their games, can watch their team for as little as £10 per game for an adult, or £80 for the season.

To watch the men’s team, which won just 58pc of their games, will cost you between £66 and £99 for single games, while season tickets cost between £926 and £1,839. You could take a family of four to an Arsenal Women’s game for less than it costs one person to attend a men’s game.

There are caveats. As the women’s game is in relative infancy, teams generally do not play at the same ground as the men, although there are some exceptions, such as Leicester City, Reading and Sheffield United. Chelsea fans travelling to a women’s game must go to Kingston, some eight miles from Chelsea’s home, Stamford Bridge, in west London.

Arsenal Women play in Borehamwood, just north of London, 12.5 miles away from its home ground, although some games will be played at the Emirates Stadium in the coming season.

Since the Lionesses’ win, Premier League sides have reported a huge surge in ticket sales for women’s games. For these new fans, a future of joy and heartbreak beckons – and some big savings, too.