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Premier League dismiss rising costs worry

The Premier League have dismissed claims by fans' representative Malcolm Clarke that rising costs may drive supporters away.

The news comes after a survey found the average follower of a Premier League spent £1,331 watching their side in 2007.

Research by Virgin Money, who polled 2,000 fans across the country, showed supporters across all divisions spent around £1,080 on tickets, merchandise, programmes, food, alcohol and travel while one in eight Premier League fans fork out £3,000 on match tickets alone.

According to these figures, the cost of attending matches has risen by 9.28% in the last two years while the consumer price index - a measure of inflation - has increased by just 4.9% with the costs of tickets, petrol and replica shirts the main reasons behind the increase.

While some clubs have frozen the costs of tickets in response to falling crowds and the Football League have introduced initiatives to encourage youngsters to attend games cheaply, some top flight sides have increased match- day prices.

Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters' Federation, criticised this move saying: "We applaud those clubs taking action to bring down ticket prices.

"We also welcome the Football League's 'Fans of the Future' initiative.

"However, these clubs, particularly in the Premier League, who have put them up this season like Manchester United, Spurs and West Ham United should hang their heads in shame.

"With the huge new broadcasting deal what possible excuse can there be for making football even more unaffordable.

"In the 1991/2 season the cheapest seat at Arsenal was £10. In today's money that is £15.44 or £16.70 adjusted for rising wages.

"The cheapest seat at Arsenal this season is £32. That goes up to a whopping £46 for the big European and derby matches as well as United and Liverpool.

"How can football possibly justify more than doubling ticket prices in real terms at a time when the game is swimming in television money?

"A time will come soon when football will look around at all the empty spaces in the stands and ask itself, 'Where did they all go?' That is a real worry."

While a Premier League spokesman would not comment on the survey, he responded to criticism of ticket prices by insisting the vast majority of clubs offer affordable tickets which has led to the top flight enjoying the highest average attendance for 57 years of over 36,000.

He said: "Clubs work very hard to ensure there are affordable tickets made available. Last season 17 clubs froze or reduced ticket prices and fans are voting with their feet.

"This season we are recording the highest top-flight attendances for 57 years. It is up 5% on last year and the average attendance through the course of the Premier League has gone up 65%.

"Fans want to watch games in safe stadia which requires investment and fans want to see the best players play for their team which again requires investment."

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Tribal Football Staff

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