Non-League football should be careful – in terms of the quality and its position in the football hierarchy, it is far too expensive.
£10 to watch step three of the pyramid is not especially good value for money. Why? Let’s say that the average admission fee in the Premier League is £40 and the average crowd in the Premier League is 34,000. The average Premier wage is £22,000 per week. So, Premier League fans are paying 0.2% of an average wage to watch their players.
Let’s also assume that the average step three weekly wage is £120. With fans paying £10 in 2012-13 at that level, they are effectively paying 8.33% of the average weekly wage at that level for their admission. This proves one thing, that non-league clubs are paying far too much money out to their players.
What’s also eye-opening is that non-league football does not shape up well versus top quality sport. For example, you can buy a Harlequins season ticket – the current English Rugby Union Champions – from £ 159. You can become a member at Middlesex County Cricket Club for less than £200.
Luton Town have frozen season ticket prices for 2012-13, something they should be applauded for. But the non-league game needs to ask itself if it is pricing itself itself out of competitiveness. Non-League season tickets are, in the majority of cases, more expensive than many of Germany’s Bundesliga!
The problem is that English non-league football desperately tries to keep up with its big brothers. But it is living beyond its means and the clubs need to be more disciplined in the way they throw money at players. It simply cannot afford it and by overcharging at the turnstile, it is asking the public to compensate for a lack of financial prudence. Just examine how many non-league clubs have publically-announced fiscal problems during a season.
I calculate that a true price for non-league football at step three is somewhat smaller that what the fans will be paying out in 2012-13. A maximum admission fee of £6 (around one seventh of the Premier League’s £44) is far more realistic than £10. It won’t ever get back to that level because every time admission prices go up, most of that increase means clubs can pay even more to their players.