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Elstone takes umbrage at BBC Sport study into prices

16/10/2014  Comments (43)  jump
Everton Chief Executive, Robert Elstone, took to his blog on the official site yesterday to counter claims made in BBC Sport's Price of Football study into the rising costs of watching the game.

The report criticises the "inflation-busting" rises in ticket prices in recent years, particularly in comparison to the clubs on Europe but Elstone felt that the figures used to illustrate the cost of watching Everton in particular were misleading.

Ticket prices have come into sharp focus recently as Premier League television revenue has mushroomed and more comparisons are made with the Bundesliga but Everton fared quite well in the BBC Sport study.

Nevertheless, Elstone was moved to counter the spirit of the report that he felt inferred that clubs "are greedy and exploitative".

"[W]e work hard every season to offer increasingly diverse payment options to help spread the cost of a season ticket," he wrote.

"A quick scan of a published price list [in the BBC Sport study], 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."

Elstone went on to cite a bulleted list of figures that highlight how discounted prices from early-bird purchases and direct-debit payments spread over time mean that the vast majority of Everton's regular match-going fans pay less than the published figures:

  • 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.

Quotes sourced from

Reader Comments (43)

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Mick Wrende
1 Posted 16/10/2014 at 08:34:58
Typical Elstone/Everton spin – why arenÂ’t we paying 㾻 a ticket rather than just under 㿊? And many of the seats have obstructed views.

We all know the reason clubs struggle is because of the high percentage of income paid out on playersÂ’ wages, most of whom are too thick to have any idea how to cope with that amount of money. Removing this dreadful obscenity would mean anyone can get to games. Surely Elstone realises that around 㿊 a game is a vast amount of money to many fans. When will that guy get real.

Andrew Hepburn
2 Posted 16/10/2014 at 09:38:46
"Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics" springs to mind...
Phil Walling
3 Posted 16/10/2014 at 09:57:01
I've always thought the prices at Goodison to be more than reasonable. Then, I don't sit behind one of those bloody pillars!
Al Reddish
4 Posted 16/10/2014 at 10:00:19
It's the players that got greedy... that's why the prices are too high.
Brent Stephens
5 Posted 16/10/2014 at 10:37:55
Andrew (#2), I think it's reasonable for Elstone to cite the stats. It does give a fuller picture. I don't see what's wrong with stats per se as long as they are used reasonably. After all, he's responding to a set of stats from the BBC about which you could say "there are lies, damn lies, stats and stats which provide only part of the picture".

If not stats, then what?

Ciaran Duff
6 Posted 16/10/2014 at 10:47:42
One thing not captured (as far as I have read anyway) is the very reasonable price for kids tickets.
Tony J Williams
7 Posted 16/10/2014 at 11:11:28
Isn't the Citteh one skewed?

I haven't read it but a lad who has stated that the cheapest Man City one is a one-off ticket special or something like that.

It's not really the ticket prices for me, it's the price of piss-poor half-time lager.

I loved it when it was Budweiser, it's rubbish now.

Chris Williamson
8 Posted 16/10/2014 at 12:10:57
I hear on the news this morning that Robbie Savage had said pro footballers don't even think of the ticket price – it means nothing to them.

Well, it wouldn't! 㿊 as a proportion of my weekly take home is 10%. 㿊 as a proportion of a player taking home 㿊k a week is 0.001% – or the equivalent of 30 pence to me (wow – 30p to watch a match!)

It's akin to Marie Antoinette saying of the starving Parisians who couldn't afford bread, "Why don't they eat cake?" ... and we know how that ended.

Andrew Ellams
9 Posted 16/10/2014 at 12:47:50
Robbie Savage is an arse. Do you think musicians and actors care how much you pay for gig or theatre tickets? I very much doubt it.
Ian Glassey
10 Posted 16/10/2014 at 13:00:37
Let's face it, pro footballers don't give a flying fuck about the fans, and what they have to pay out. I am a retired pensioner and have had to juggle money from here to there to go Lille> I know people will say, "Well, don't go," – but life is too short and we are Everton... so I'll worry about it later.
Nick Entwistle
11 Posted 16/10/2014 at 13:11:57
If Elstone doesn't like the 𧾇 quoted, he should pay back the difference to the 500 and have the Early Bird as the price.
Frank Crewe
12 Posted 16/10/2014 at 12:50:30
On average, 71p out of every pound taken in goes on wages. This is why most PL clubs are either technically bankrupt such as Chelski and Citeh or always on the verge of bankruptcy such as all the other PL clubs. No other industry has wage costs that are so high. In fact most employers are forever trying to find ways to lower wage costs but PL football clubs appear to be forever increasing wages as a bribe to hang on to players. Well they have to get this money back somehow so they hit the supporters.

Now to make out that 𧼏 (it sounds better than 𧼐) is somehow cheap is ridiculous. That's 㿋 per game for 19 home games. Don't know where he gets the 㾶 figure from. Probably talking about kids prices.

As long as PL clubs continue to try and buy their way to success and the fans are happy to see them do it, the costs of watching football will continue to rise so there is no point in complaining about it. Only when fans begin to vote with their feet will the clubs get the message.

Andrew Hepburn
13 Posted 16/10/2014 at 13:19:09
Hi Brent. My point exactly. You manipulate stats to make your point.
Nick Entwistle
14 Posted 16/10/2014 at 13:24:13
Kids prices is right, Frank, but then who pays for their ticket?
Frank Crewe
15 Posted 16/10/2014 at 13:30:06
Well that's it Nick. Take a couple of kids and you're looking at 㿟 per game, and this doesn't include eats, drinks, programmes, etc. And for what? Most of the PL is made up of cannon fodder for the really big spenders to crush. Just a bunch of perennial also-rans here to make up the numbers and add a bit of game atmosphere for Sky and BT.
Nick Entwistle
16 Posted 16/10/2014 at 13:45:12
Yup. I said on another thread that it costs more to see a nothing League Cup match than it does to see a top-of-the-table clash in the Bundesliga.
James Morgan
17 Posted 16/10/2014 at 14:04:14
Nothing will change until all fans don't show up for a weekend of fixtures, and if that doesn't work then another weekend and so on.
Richard Scudamore recently said how the PL has had record attendances in recent years, basically he means they will keep charging high prices as long as they can.
Brent Stephens
18 Posted 16/10/2014 at 14:37:06
Andrew, how has he manipulated the stats? BBC cited some stats and Elstone has added others – not contradicted the initial stats. And the implication in "lies, damn lies and stats" is that Elstone is worse than lying! How?

Make a contrary case, challenge the stats, but don't just dismiss an argument because it uses stats.

There are lies, damn lies, stats, stats which provide only part of the picture, and no argument but just a dismissal of stats.

Peter Morris
19 Posted 16/10/2014 at 14:55:46
Surely this is all a bit of a none issue anyway, certainly insofar as the "greedy, profiteering owner" template is concerned?

I speculated last year that the extra 㿨m or so a season that Everton enjoy going forward from the new TV deal will take about 3-5 years to find itself into the pockets of agents and players (read fee, agent and salary for Lukaku), and I see nothing in this report to dispel my opinion.

The high prices (and yes, I agree they are high) do not filter their way to dividends for owners and shareholders, as would be the case in a normal commercial organisation. Buffalo Bill and his co-owners make Jack shit out of Everton, believe me. As far as I know, no dividend has been paid in living memory, and no salaries are paid to the owners. Supposedly, they even buy their own tickets!

It's only by driving up capacity, and improving facilities can the club have any prospect of leeway that at the same time allows us to compete for the best players, and also invest at least some of the income back into pricing subsidy for ticket prices. Either that, or a very rich owner who is prepared to underwrite the losses that lowering prices would inevitably bring, as is the case at Man City.

Everton has a largely working-class, low-income fanbase, and in many respects we are all the better for it, but this fact, and our low commercial income potential brought about by the limitations of the 'Old Lady', I'm afraid leave us in a financial strait jacket with very little latitude to play tunes with prices which would not undermine the whole viability of the club... sorry, but that's the reality.

Chris Fisher
20 Posted 16/10/2014 at 15:15:30
Posts 8 and 10 – Steven Naismith is the exception to the rule then because he 100% gives a fuck about the fans... so much so that he has brought some match tickets out of his own pocket to give to fans. He's a good lad but, like I said, he is the exception.
Andrew Hepburn
21 Posted 16/10/2014 at 15:00:48
Brent your missing my point. The quote "lies, damn lies and stats" is a famous quote by Mark Twain that highlights statics can be used how you want to spin it.

Are you saying this is not true and that all quoted statistics should be taken at face value?

For an out-of-context example, when the Ebola breakout hit the news, the BBC stated that Ebola has a 100% mortality rate. This statistic was taken from three outbreaks (1976, 1997, 2011) that affected only one person in each outbreak, all of whom died. The WHO (not Roger) actually state that the average mortality rate is 50%. So the BBC used the statistic that best suited their story.

Another example is Mr Elstone stating that 1 in 5 people pay less than 㾶 per game. What it does not say is that these are Kids prices. It might be obvious but Elstone doesn't state this as it sounds better and supports his argument better. You could say that Little Johnny goes to 19 games a season for less than ٞ.00 per game. As his dad pays for the ticket. Still a true statistic though.

What if 94% of people paid 㿓.99 per ticket. The statistic "Only 6% of fans at Goodison Park, across the entire season, pay more than 㿔 per seat" would still be true.

Also I never aimed my initial comment at Elstone, Everton, the BBC or anyone else.

Brent Stephens
22 Posted 16/10/2014 at 17:31:48
Andrew, yes I knew you were probably saying, in effect, that stats can be used (spuriously and / or selectively) to support your case. All I was saying though was that, first, stats in themselves are not necessarily a bad thing (Twain's quote is often used to reject the use of stats in a particular case without saying what is wrong with them in that particular case), and second, that Elstone had added to the BBC stats, not tried to deny them.

Sorry if I interpreted your post as having a go at Elstone using stats.

One stat I like is that some people have only one leg, so if you count all the legs in the UK and divide by two, you come out with a stat that on average people in the UK have something like 1.986 legs! Maybe that's why I'm limp (like my arguments!).

Mike Keating
23 Posted 16/10/2014 at 17:33:24
Following the release of our new third strip for the season, I wonder what Elstone has to say about the mark up on replica shirts which cost less than €10 to make.

Is it responding to demand from fans (can you really believe that Arsenal have fans complaining that two new strips a season aren't enough?) or is it greed from the clubs and their shirt sponsors.

The evidence in this article is probably going to get the BBC into more trouble for questioning the integrity of football clubs and their exploitation of the fans.

Price of Foootball.

John Ford
24 Posted 16/10/2014 at 18:30:07
Revealing article here about Borussia Dortmunds treatment of fans. It's well known that German clubs charge less for entry and work hard at relations with their supporters, but isn't this something a 'people's club' should aspire to?

Mike Keating
25 Posted 16/10/2014 at 17:56:43
I agree with Brent; facts do not speak for themselves and are always open to interpretation. As one sociology student once remarked in an exam answer: "The average family in the UK has 2.5 kids. What is .5 of a child? Probably a dog."

So, in that context, may I offer three more sets of stats (for those who can't be arsed to read the article)

1. The cost of making a shirt can be as cheap as €8 (depends which group of child labourers you exploit) and can sell for as much as 㿣 or more depending on whether you buy from the club or online.

2. Adidas turnover from footy related merchandise has risen 121% in the past 10 years and now accounts for ٟ.8bn of their total income.

3. Not content with odious amounts of telly money and screwing the fans at the gate, the 'top clubs' in the UK have peddled on average 1m shirts EACH in the past 4 years and even Liverpool make it to number 7 in the World Shirt Lifters League with sales of 805,000 over the same period.

Fiddling about with the mark-up rates, I calculate that the top merchandisers in Euro Footy make on average 㾷m per year from shirt sales for the club. I admit to only gaining a grade 5 in maths at O-Level and haven't had a numeracy test since but I think the guesstimate is not far from the truth.

I know some of you will reply that you don't have to buy this cack and that is true too. Hopefully, though, the facts will persuade any punters to leave their money in the piggy bank and Put it towards a cup final ticket instead (another rip off).

Bill Griffiths
26 Posted 16/10/2014 at 19:07:18
While I personally think the cost of a match ticket is way too high, I think the cost of additional add-ons like food and drink inside the ground is even worse. However, with the add-ons you have a choice.

When I occasionally attend matches these days, I usually take along a couple of my grandsons so, all-in-all, it is a pretty expensive day out. Therefore I never ever buy food and drinks inside the ground but either take our own or buy stuff outside the ground which is far cheaper. As far as tickets go, though, you have to pay the price asked.

The mark-up on food and drink inside the ground must be way over the top.

Marc Sansum
27 Posted 16/10/2014 at 19:12:36
Well said, Peter (19)!!
Andy Crooks
28 Posted 17/10/2014 at 00:55:39
For some reason, footballers attract as much criticism as bankers. How dare working class lads get rich. There are some decent men playing football and sharing their wealth.
Ernie Baywood
29 Posted 17/10/2014 at 06:48:34
If my employer came to me and said "Look you're so good at your job that companies are going to pay us millions for you to wear a logo on your shirt, and Sky want to televise you doing your job - another few million for us"...

I'd probably ask for a pay rise.

James Hughes
30 Posted 17/10/2014 at 07:33:00
John #24 One thing about German football which is not being heralded at the moment is that football-related violence has increased 20% in the past year. That stat doesnÂ’t appear to get many headlines.
Rob Baker
31 Posted 17/10/2014 at 09:37:01
How does spreading the cost of a ticket over several DD payments actually make it cheaper in the long road? A 𧹴 season ticket is 𧹴 regardless of a one-off 𧹴 payment or 4 x 𧴧 payments. Talk about glossing over the real problems of exorbitant wages and agent fees. What troubles me more is the cost of seeing lower league matches, as 㿀 for a ticket at that level is unacceptable.
Mike Keating
32 Posted 17/10/2014 at 10:08:22
So it's our function to turn a handful of Premier League players into multi millionaires while lower league clubs struggle to survive?

If Borussia Dortmund can keep international players at the club and charge the fans a fraction of what we pay, why do Premier League clubs feel the need to screw the fans at every opportunity?

Read the article recommended by John Ford @ 24

Phil Walling
33 Posted 17/10/2014 at 10:54:23
Isn't it ironic that, with the Premier League awash with money, most clubs are still failing to run at a profit. The more revenue that comes in, the more ends up in the players' pockets. Even average players can rely on a 㿊k-a-week pay packet, Meanwhile the kids clubs around Merseyside can't afford the pitch fees.

Our game stinks!

James Richard
34 Posted 17/10/2014 at 11:46:24
Well this should be comical. Elstone vs the BBC. Usually propaganda vs propaganda = more propaganda. Definitely the case here.
Brian Harrison
35 Posted 17/10/2014 at 12:12:50

I am afraid the situation regarding players wages increasing is just going to get worse and worse. Scudamore is already pushing for Premier League clubs to play league games in other countries... as you rightly say the Premier League is awash with money. So I can only see the 39th game as this proposal for overseas games, then this just sums up what the Premier League thinks of its fans.

Already, many fans can no longer afford to watch their teams in this country but who gives a shit about them? Let's make it even harder for fans to see all their club's games by this stupid idea.

Now if they propose that, apart from expenses, all money raised from overseas Premier League games goes direct to grassroots football, that way at least kids may get decent changing rooms with showers that work. So, instead of raping the game, the greedy clubs and players can give something back for a change.... Mind, I won't hold my breath on this.

Phil Walling
36 Posted 17/10/2014 at 12:48:15
Well said, Brian! I have long thought that the pitch cost crisis on Merseyside could be solved overnight by the players of the City's two sides offering to donate just 1% of one month's wages to the cause of junior football.

But, as you say, we won't hold our breath!

Brent Stephens
37 Posted 17/10/2014 at 13:33:06
James #34 "Usually propaganda vs propaganda = more propaganda. Definitely the case here."

James, what would you want to see / hear about ticket prices that's not propaganda?

Tony Abrahams
38 Posted 17/10/2014 at 14:09:29
Phil 33, good post, but the saddest thing for me is there is no irony at all. It stinks alright, and we are all to blame in a way. I think it was Dylan who sang that propaganda all is phoney. When you stop and think, there's not many things more phoney than the EPL.

Charge upper-class prices for a working-class game, and the grounds have never been fuller? Man City fans getting slaughtered because the ground wasn't full for their last Champions League match? The Daily Mirror criticising Evertonians because the club had to cancel their extortionate plane to Russia?

Only a boycott of live games would work, even if the fans all went in after 15 minutes. One thing is certain: the television company's would demand that clubs reduced their prices, because it would not look good to the world-wide audience, watching a game without the emotion of the crowd.

Matt Traynor
39 Posted 17/10/2014 at 14:48:48
Brian #35, the 39th game won't happen. It would damage the integrity of the league too much by lop-siding the fixtures.

Sadly though, they will go ahead with it within the 38 game structure. Watch Brenda Rodgers complain about players being tired due to travel etc. Of course he won't, the bean counters will silence him.

Alan McGuffog
40 Posted 17/10/2014 at 15:35:56
I agree with you, Matt... the 39th game will be a red herring though for the start of certain games between the Sky favourites being played in Indonesia, Thailand, China, the Gulf etc... inevitable!
Brian Harrison
41 Posted 17/10/2014 at 16:22:34

When I said the 39th game I didnt mean an extra league game this is what the press were calling playing a game abroad. There is no doubt the 2 biggest supported clubs outside of this Country will be pushing for a game either in the far east or the States where both clubs have a massive following. Money is the most important thing, I am afraid fans come a long way down the pecking order. Although the clubs will get bumper pay days from these games, most of the extra revenue will end up in players pockets.

Dick Fearon
42 Posted 18/10/2014 at 08:14:53
There must be a tipping point when supporting your team becomes too much of a financial sacrifice. Many have already reached that point and are lost to the game.
It seems to me that things are afoot that will drastically change our expensive lifestyle priorities into a place and time in which tin cups lose all relevance and importance to everyday survival.
Then at long last will the game, our beautiful game return to where it all began as the working mans sport.

Roger Helm
43 Posted 18/10/2014 at 20:37:38
Someone should start a campaign to boycott all EPL matches on a given day in protest about ticket prices. As much as we love EFC, we could stand to miss one match a season and do something else instead.

Imagine – a Saturday when all EPL matches took place in near-empty stadiums! That would give the greedy bastards pause for thought.

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