No league action over away ticket prices
Published 10/01/2013 | 19:00
The Premier League will encourage clubs to bring in new incentives to encourage away fans but will not intervene directly over ticket prices.
There have been calls for a cap on the amounts clubs are charging away fans - especially for high-profile Category A matches - but the league insists tickets are a matter for individual clubs.
Premier League chiefs are aware of the need for strong away support at grounds in order to maintain the atmosphere of the top flight, one of its strengths compared to others in Italy and to some extent Spain.
The average away attendance has remained about same, around 2,200 for the last three seasons, say the Premier League. Efforts will focus on providing incentives to clubs to put away tickets on sale, and possibly subsidising coach travel.
The issue of prices resurfaced after Manchester City returned 912 unsold tickets to Arsenal, priced at £62, for this weekend's match between the clubs at the Emirates. The Football Supporters' Federation (FSF) has called on top-flight clubs to pass on the benefit of next season's bumper new TV deal to fans by reducing ticket prices.
The FSF claims it is unfair that clubs such as Arsenal should charge away fans from the top clubs one figure, and those from less high-profile clubs half as much - Stoke fans will only have to pay £35.50. Other fans' groups have called for a cap of £20-£25 for away fans' tickets.
A Premier League spokesman said: "Ticket pricing is a matter for individual clubs, many of which work hard to fill their stadiums with offers at different points during a season that make top flight football accessible to large numbers of fans. We have always encouraged stretch pricing to help accessibility and it is against Premier League rules to charge away fans more than home fans for the same standard of seats.
"The quality and safety of stadia is as a result of extensive and continued investment from the clubs. Fans clearly enjoy the environment in which they watch Premier League matches and the football on offer with occupancy rates at grounds tracking at 95% for this season and having been 90%-plus for the last 15 seasons in a row."
Duncan Drasdo, spokesman for the Manchester United Supporters' Trust, warned that falling away attendances could spell trouble for the league.
He said: "There is a genuine issue with declining away attendances - away support is one of the things that makes English football stand out from the often drab atmosphere in other leagues such as Serie A in Italy. The discrepancy impacts on some clubs more than others - Manchester City fans aren't rich just because its owner is. It's a blatant injustice."