'Day of celebration' for football fans as Premier League caps away ticket prices
The Football Supporters' Federation has welcomed a new Premier League initiative which will see a way fans paying no more than £30 for a match for the next three seasons, but stressed there was still work to be done to drive costs down.
Following a meeting of the 20 member clubs in February, it was decided more needed to be done to help travelling supporters, who face increased costs to attend matches across the country, but also help make a unique atmosphere.
The new measures will replace the Away Supporters' Initiative, which was introduced in 2013 and saw clubs individually implement a range of measures, including travel subsidies, reciprocal pricing and reduced admissions as well as improved facilities.
The £30 cap will run from the start of the 2016-17 campaign through to 2018-19, a period which will see the Premier League clubs receive record revenue (£5.14 billion) from broadcasting deals.
The Premier League made it clear in its statement of the importance given to the role of the away fans, who are "essential for match atmosphere and stimulate the response from home fans that distinguishes Barclays Premier League matches from those of other leagues."
Meanwhile, Arsenal, who have often come in for criticism given their high ticket prices in some sections of the Emirates Stadium, for both home and away supporters, also announced additional measures to follow on from those of the Premier League collectively, which will see a further £4 reduction in attendance costs for fans.
Chief executive of the FSF Kevin Miles believes the top-flight clubs should be applauded for taking such a stance, but stressed the organisation would continue to lobby for more concessions.
"It is going to make a lot of difference to a lot of fans and has got to be a good thing. This is definitely a day of celebration for us," Miles said on Sky Sports News.
"Away fans generate a lot of the noise, even home fans spark off them. Their attendance is absolutely vital and this will give that attendance quite a boost.
"We are also optimistic that such is the amount of money available to those clubs that some will go even further.
"We understand Arsenal have gone even further and said none of their fans travelling away will pay more than £26, so that is getting even close to our 'twenty's plenty' target."
Liverpool fans group Spirit of Shankly have been among the leading voices in the campaign for cheaper tickets.
They hit the headlines last month after helping co-ordinate a successful protest at Anfield against their club's home ticket pricing policy for next season.
Spokesperson James McKenna said: " The clubs have finally listened and I think most supporters will be pleased that has happened. I think it is a recognition of how important supporters are. I think it is a really positive step."
The move also gained government approval as John Whittingdale, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said: "This is welcome news.
"Away supporters devote a huge amount of time and money to follow their clubs. I am very pleased to see that their loyalty is being rewarded.
"I hope the Premier League will continue to ensure ticket prices remain affordable".
Despite the moves by the 20 top-flight teams, the Football League will continue to leave it down to clubs to each set the admission costs.
A Football League spokesman said: "The Football League has always determined that the issue of ticket pricing is a matter for individual clubs, particularly given that ticket revenue forms a far greater proportion of their turnover than it does for Premier League clubs.
"Overall, our clubs offer excellent value for money with the very best value being reserved for those supporters committing to a season ticket.
"Two-thirds of the 16million admissions recorded by our clubs last season were season ticket holders and, as a result, the average ticket price paid per paying spectator was just £14.
"Nevertheless, today's decision will give our clubs something to consider given that they are in a competitive market for spectators and therefore must be able to offer value for money.
"The Football League board will also keep its approach to ticket pricing under review and will discuss any relevant matters with member clubs at an appropriate time."