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Cost of the Game 2019/20: No Scottish Premiership tickets below £20

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Adult football fans cannot buy a ticket for a Scottish Premiership game for less than £20, a BBC Scotland study has found.

That is just one of the findings from a new survey that collates the price of season tickets, match tickets, programmes, merchandise and food costs across the SPFL divisions this term.

Each of the 42 senior clubs – except Rangers – was asked to provide prices and among the other key findings, it emerged that:

  • The cheapest adult Premiership season ticket is £240
  • The most expensive ticket so far is £52 for an Old Firm game at Ibrox
  • Nine clubs offer free season tickets to kids
  • Dumbarton charge the most for a pie
  • Motherwell & Queen’s Park charge the most for a cup of tea

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster insisted that every club in Scotland is “continuing to make every effort to make football as affordable as possible”.

He added: “Our game continues to go from strength to strength. Average attendances have increased across all four divisions, the League Cup and Challenge Cup for the last five years in a row.

“One in 47 people in Scotland attend an SPFL match each weekend, which means it remains by far the best attended league per head of the population anywhere in Europe.

“This underlines the value and enjoyment supporters get from Scottish football.”

Scottish Premiership

Unsurprisingly, Scotland’s top league leads the way in terms of the most expensive clubs to follow.

A season ticket at champions Celtic will cost you up to £674, while the cheapest adult ticket is £456 – an increase of 58.8% from five years ago during Ronny Deila’s reign.

Figures obtained from the Rangers website show fans of the Ibrox club could pay anything from £372 to £724 for a season pass.

The cheapest season book in the top-flight can be found at St Mirren, with their entry level ticket coming in at £240, with Ross County just £10 more expensive.

In terms of the most expensive single ticket, that can be found at Ibrox at £52 for a top-category game, with Celtic yet to confirm their price. Hearts and Motherwell offer the cheapest on-the-day brief at £20.

Clubs including St Johnstone, St Mirren and Motherwell offer free season tickets for children when an adult ticket is bought. The cheapest outright kids ticket for the campaign is £5 to watch Ross County.

Away from tickets, fans of top-flight clubs are counting the cost of supporting their sides. The cheapest replica jersey for an adult is Livingston at £39.99, while junior fans of the West Lothian club will pay £29.99 for a top, also the lowest in the division.

That compares to the £60 for a Rangers top or £58 price tag attached to Celtic, with kids jerseys for both coming in at £45.

Livingston also come in top in terms of match-day programme – which is completely free online. For a paper copy, St Johnstone at £2 is the most affordable.

Scottish Championship

While a tier lower, there is one group of supporters who are still playing Premiership prices – Dundee fans. A season ticket at Dens costs at least £340, with eight top-flight clubs charging less.

In fact, Dundee also charge more than any Championship rival for a match-day ticket as well as commanding the biggest single ticket price at £26 along with city rivals United.

Four Championship clubs offer free children’s’ season tickets – Morton, Inverness CT, Partick Thistle and Queen of the South – while Morton also give free admission to under 12s without a season book. Dundee also redeem themselves here, charging just £1 for a kids season ticket and £2 on the gate.

Dearest strip? You can find that at Somerset Park, with adult Ayr fans paying £49.99 for a replica jersey. A kids strip across the league is not available for less than £35.

A pie and a cup of tea at Inverness will cost you a hefty £4.60 in total, more than double the £2 you would part with at Queen of the South.

Scottish League One

In League One, the price of a season ticket drops below the £200-mark at three clubs – Forfar Athletic, Stranraer and Peterhead – with the latter the cheapest at just £175 for the full term.

Forfar come in cheapest for a single match ticket at £14, while Falkirk, Peterhead, Stranraer and Dumbarton all offer free ticket deals for kids whether on a single match basis or across the season.

However, any adult wanting to follow Dumbarton is having to dig deep compared to other fans in the division. They have the dearest cheapest season ticket at £240, the joint third-highest single ticket at £16, joint second most-expensive programme at £2.50 and the highest priced pie in Scotland at £2.80.

To put it differently, it costs only marginally more to buy a slice of pizza and a drink at Serie A giants Juventus at 5.50 euros (£4.92) than a pie and a tea at Dumbarton. Granted, there are different economies of scale at play between the two…

The most expensive season ticket in the division comes at Falkirk at £320. They also have the dearest on-the-day ticket (£20), programme (£3 along with Clyde), tea (£1.80) and away ticket price (£18).

Fashion comes at a high price in Peterhead with £49 needed for a jersey, while Raith Rovers charge £55 for a full kit for children.

Scottish League Two

In the bottom tier, seven of the 10 clubs offer some form of free ticket to children, with Cove Rangers’ £80 for a season ticket the dearest in League Two.

For adults, the price of a season ticket does drop from the division above, with Elgin City’s £150 the cheapest in the division for a season ticket. However, while perhaps not a fair comparison given the focus on fans in German football, that is still £20 more than what it could cost you to watch Bayern Munich for a campaign.

Queen’s Park have the dearest tickets across the board at £200 for a season ticket and single day ticket at £15 along with Brechin City.

While a programme at Hampden may be free, you can pay £3 for one at Edinburgh City.

And a Stirling Albion fan looking to buy their child a top? It will cost you £40.

Fans’ love of game endures amid nonsense – analysis

Tom English, chief sports writer, BBC Scotland

According to Neil Doncaster, the chief executive of the SPFL, attendances at club matches across Scotland are in decent health. He talks about the average attendances increasing across all divisions over the last five seasons. He says that the SPFL, per head of population, remains the best attended league in Europe.

There is no doubting the love of the game in Scotland. It endures through all sorts of nonsense. Accelerating ticket prices and anti-social kick-off times are accepted. It would be fascinating to see an overall satisfaction rating among football fans for their match-day experience but the fact remains that they still turn out in numbers even when barriers are put in their way.

A number of issues jump out of this survey. Dundee charge more for a season ticket than eight Premiership clubs. Do they not know what division they’re playing in? Are they in denial about relegation? Ayr United charge £49.99 for a men’s replica jersey? Do the smelling salts cost extra? No strip from a Championship club is available for less than £35. That’s fine if you belong to Morton, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Partick Thistle or Queen of the South where kids get free season tickets. Brilliant. Good on them. But the rest?

At £240, St Mirren offer the cheapest season ticket in the Premiership. Fair value, you might say. But here’s the thing. Attendances at professional rugby matches have now surpassed most football club attendances in Scotland. Last Friday, the international rugby team drew more than 50,000 to Murrayfield for a friendly with Georgia while the SFA struggled to half-fill Hampden for the visit of Russia before recording a crowd of just 25,000 for Belgium on Monday night.

In Glasgow, the Warriors charge £215 for their cheapest season ticket and their crowds have risen to such an extent in recent seasons that their 7,500-capacity stadium is now regularly sold out. There is talk of them adding extra temporary stands to meet demand. Too often the place is too small. This from a club that six or seven years ago was bringing in 2,000 fans per game if they were lucky.

Football will always be the national obsession – and plenty of clubs are busting every sinew to do the right thing by their supporters – but if you polled a thousand football fans from around the country and asked them if they felt they were getting value for money the answers would be interesting. They love their team, but their support should never be taken for granted.

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