Can football clubs legally charge away fans from certain clubs more than fans from other clubs?

The away support within the stadium

Having both sets of supporters within a football ground is part and parcel of the game of football. It creates an atmosphere inside the ground and also provides some support to the away team on what may be a difficult away day.

The Tickets for the away support

The ticketing of the football match will be organised by the home team. The home team will decide on various factors such as the price of the tickets and the amount of tickets to be allocated to the away team. Once this has been decided the away tickets will then be sold through the ticket office of the away team.

Will a certain club always charge the same prices for away tickets?

It would follow that if all the seats for home supporters within a football ground are priced at the same amount throughout a football season that this should also be the case for the seats allocated to away supporters. However, this is not always being the case.

In what situation would there be a variation?

Some Premier League football clubs take the decision to price the tickets for the away supporters of the top Premier League clubs higher than the prices for the tickets for the lower Premier League clubs.

What is the reason for this?

The reasoning behind this is that when one of the bigger Premier League clubs comes to town they will bring with them a support that is guaranteed to fill the away end of the ground regardless of the price. This means that the home club can charge higher prices for fans of these teams knowing that the price would not put them off. If they were to charge this same higher price for lesser supported Premier League clubs it is unlikely they would fill the ground.

Is this illegal?

It would be extremely difficult to bring a legal claim in relation to a football club in doing this. The only grounds may be that it was excessive price practices in breach of UK competition rules. However, for the ticket prices to be viewed as excessive it may have to be shown that they were more than any other in the football ground. This may be difficult to show.

Is there anything which has been done about this?

The Football Supporters Federation (FSF) has recently run a campaign concerned with pricing at football matches. This is not just the pricing of tickets for Premier League football matches but also deals with excessive pricing throughout the Football League and lower divisions. One of the key elements of this campaign was to try and achieve a blanket price for all away tickets for Premier League matches.

Does the home team have to provide the full allocation of tickets to away supporters?

Within the home stadium there will be a certain section and percentage of the seats within the stadium which must be given to away supporters.

Some Premier League teams who do not always attract a large attendance for their home matches will often increase this when one of the Premier League big boys comes to town as they know that they will fill more of the stadium. However, in some circumstances recently the allocation for the away fans has been cut.

Why has this allocation been cut?

Certain supporters of some Premier League football clubs do not abide by the codes of conduct and the rules imposed by the police in football grounds such as the requirement for supporters to be seated. In fact one Premier League club’s supporters when they travel to away matches insist on standing up for the entirety of the game which is in contravention to the rules on safety within football stadiums.  When supporters have a history of doing this the home club may decide to cut the allocation of tickets to those away supporters to prevent further health and safety risks.

Is it legal for the home football club to do this?

It is perfectly legally for the home football club to restrict the allocation in this manner as if the away fans are causing a significant risk to health and safety the restriction of their allocation would be perfectly reasonable in the circumstances.

Can any conditions be imposed upon the ticketing by the away club?

Once the allocation and the price of the tickets have been set by the home club, the tickets will be sold through the ticket office of the away club. This means that the away club will be able to impose conditions upon who would be able to gain access to these tickets. Often there will be requirements imposed by the away club such as the need to not allow certain members under football banning orders to get access to the tickets. It is also likely that the club may run a rewards scheme whereby individuals who have continually applied for and attended away matches will be able to gain access to the tickets over individuals who are applying for the first time.

Is it legal for a club to do this?

A club is perfectly within their rights to establish criteria for the application of away tickets as there is no right for individual fans to be provided with these tickets.

Can the away club impose payment conditions over and above the price of the ticket?

One Premier League club has come under criticism from its own fans following plans to impose a fee on fans who wish to apply for away match tickets. The club has put forward an idea whereby fans have to join a Premier League travel club in order to be able to apply for away match tickets. Upon joining this club the fans will have to pay a joining fee. Fans who are not members of the club will not be able to apply for tickets.

This system has come under criticism as it is felt that fans will be paying for the privilege of applying for tickets when there is no guarantee they will be provided with the tickets.