Matchday prices soar for football fans

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Football fans have been hit with a 21% increase in the cost of matchday over the past three months, with higher petrol prices, tickets and food all hitting their pockets.

When clubs released ticket prices for this season, fans faced an average increase of 7.2%. This has now been exacerbated by the current general economic gloom.

The new figures, compiled by Virgin Money football fans' inflation index, show the average supporter now has to fork out £106.21 per matchday, including the cost of the ticket, travel, a programme and refreshments.

This is the first time the index has topped £100, with the current costs a staggering 36% higher than just two years ago when the index was first launched.

The overall economic malaise has also resulted in many fans cutting back on going to games, with research suggesting 26% of fans will be reducing the number of games they attend this season.

Fans of West Ham United, Newcastle United and Liverpool are the most likely to reduce their attendances this season, as the rising cost of living continues to put pressure on fans' purse-strings.

Higher petrol prices are a key reason for the increased cost of attending matches, with football fans travelling by car to follow their team likely to spend an average of almost £250 a season on filling up the tank.

With 19% of regular Portsmouth fans travelling over 5,000 miles a season, they will be worst hit with a season outlay of nearly £900 on petrol.

Scott Mowbray, spokesman for Virgin Money, says: "The past year has seen severe pressure on people's finances from rising mortgage costs, fuel prices and food bills. But with merchandise and rail fares also on the rise something has to give and obviously keeping a roof over your head and keeping your house warm outranks going to football matches."

And Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters Federation, warns that the figures could have a big impact on the football industry.

"Leisure activities are always likely to be at high risk in a period of economic downturn," he explains. "This would be true even if football inflation was at the same rate as ordinary inflation let alone when it's much higher. It shows that all those clubs who increased prices beyond the rate of inflation for this season are living in a fools' paradise."

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