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Everton Executive Elstone Disputes BBC's 'Price of Football' Study

The question is, do you believe him?

Robert Elstone with Bill Kenwright
Robert Elstone with Bill Kenwright
Jan Kruger

Over the years, Everton fans have developed a deep dislike of Chief Executive Robert Elstone based on mistrust of how he has handled the purse strings at the club. So it is not a surprise that when Everton's finances are under the spotlight, he piped up pretty quickly to discredit what otherwise looks like an excellent survey carried out by interviewing the real fans.

Let's start at the beginning. Every year, the BBC carries out a study called the 'Price of Football', in which it attempts to survey how much fans are really paying to watch their football teams at home. They also discovered that the average price of the cheapest match-day ticket has gone up about 4.4% from last year in the top divisions of English football, nearly twice the rate the cost of living has been increasing at.

The table shown below is sorted by the price of the 'Cheapest Day Out', which includes the cheapest match-day ticket, a programme, pie and a cup of tea. (All data courtesy of the BBC - link.)

Price of Football - Cheapest Day Out

While Everton are not the most expensive football experience in the Premier League, they are certainly not the cheapest either. Of the top seven or eight clubs, the Blues are curiously more expensive than two London sides - Tottenham and Arsenal. However, the prices of those teams' season tickets more than makes up for that anomaly. When you look at the tables for cheapest and most expensive season tickets, the Blues come in at much more modest level.

Price of Football - Cheapest Season Ticket

Price of Football - Most Exp Season Ticket

Comparative Ticket Costs

Price of a Goal

However, even this very transparent study seemed to invoke Elstone's ire. He went on to the Everton FC website to disclaim some of the numbers submitted by actual Toffees fans.

"I would also suggest almost every club offers healthy discounts for the early purchase of a season ticket and, from Everton’s perspective, we work hard every season to offer increasingly diverse payment options to help spread the cost of a season ticket.  A quick scan of a published price list, at a certain point in time, picking up only 'highs and lows', misses all of this, and broadcasts to the nation misleading and flawed conclusions.

By way of illustrating some of these points - and highlighting the real price of football from an Everton perspective - consider the following in relation to our match-goers in 2014/15:

  • 1 in 5 (17%) of our 27,500 season ticket holders pay less than £10 per game representing 1 in 8 (13%) of the paying Goodison attendance.
  • 9 out of 10 of our season ticket holders buy early and benefit from an average discount of £85. The highest price this overwhelming majority of fans pay for their season ticket is £599 (compared to the BBC’s reported highest price season ticket of £719).
  • Only 500 supporters (1.3% of the average gate) paid late and paid the reported £719 after the early-bird window closed.
  • 60% of the gate for Saturday’s game against Aston Villa will be paying £30 or less.
  • Only 6% of fans at Goodison Park, across the entire season, pay more than £40 per seat; and
  • Over the past five years, the amount of money we take per seat – all games and all seats – has reduced by 15% when compared to the rate of inflation.

Football isn't cheap. Finding the money - even at the above prices - to come and watch Premier League football is difficult and should never be taken for granted. But, let's get our facts right and acknowledge that almost every club is totally committed to providing value for money and making football accessible to the widest possible cross-section of society. That’s certainly true at Everton."

- Robert Elstone, Everton Chief Executive.

So, what are your thoughts about the BBC study and Elstone's comments?