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Friday, 25 May, 2001, 02:53 GMT 03:53 UK
Football's rich pickings
Anfield's atmosphere and facilities impress visiting fans
Premiership football is attracting an increasing number of high-earning fans, according to the annual benchmark survey of the British game.

The Sir Norman Chester Centre for Football Research at Leicester University confirms many supporters' perceptions about the changing face of football.

  Survey results:
Costliest season ticket - Chelsea (666)
Average total spend: 954
Highest percentage of ethnic minority fans - Arsenal (2.5%)
Fans in favour of sitting - 76%
Best ground to visit: Anfield
Percentage of fans born with 20 miles of club's ground: 70%

The centre's annual report questioned 26,000 English Premiership supporters plus 3,000 Celtic and Rangers fans.

It found a sport whose fans are willing to pay large sums but are also concerned about price rises.

Supporters are increasingly like to be women or children, while the 45% with access to the internet is higher than the national average.

And despite their image as the epitome of the modern Premiership club, Manchester United's Old Trafford ground was voted as the worst to visit.

The survey discovered that 11% of fans earn more than 50,000 a year, although there is a major north/south divide.

  • Wealthy west Londoners Chelsea have the highest percentage of big earners - 33% of Stamford Bridge season ticket holders make over 50,000 a year
  • The comparative figure is only 4% at Sunderland and less than 10% at most northern and Midlands clubs
  • Chelsea fans also have the highest total football-related spend - 1,746
  • Of current Premiership clubs, Southampton fans spend the least - just 714 a year

The rising price of attending games also continues to concern fans, but those attending games still believe they get value for money.

  • 64% of respondents said high ticket prices are now the most serious problem facing the game
  • Chelsea again topped the chart, charging an average of 666 for a season ticket last season
  • The lowest figures was 315 at Everton
  • 59% said football still offers reasonable value for money
  • 25% said it gave good value

The report also confirmed the changing make-up of crowds.

A young football fan
More children are attending games
Women and children are attending top-flight matches in greater numbers as the sport continues to nurture a "family" image.

  • 14% of Premiership supporters are women
  • At Middlesbrough and Derby, female fans buy 20% of season tickets
  • 80% of those questioned regularly take children to games

A third of fans had seen racism at games, while many supporters from ethnic minorities remain reluctant to attend games.

  • 1.6% of the fans surveyed said they came from "another UK or foreign background"
  • Arsenal have the most - 2.5%, followed by other London clubs
  • Just over 30% said they had witnessed racism towards players from other supporters

The survey found that half of fans were happy with ground improvement although a quarter wanted to return to standing areas.

But when it comes to facilities, fans say it is the Premiership's biggest and most successful club which has got it wrong.

  • Man Utd's giant Old Trafford ground was worst ground to visit, followed by fellow "big clubs" Leeds and Chelsea
  • Liverpool's Anfield is the number one venue

Interesting answers to the oldest question in football - why fans support a particular club - also feature in the survey.

  • Manchester United have the fewest locally-born fans - just 46% of their season ticket holders
  • The three north-eastern clubs - Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough - have most, alongside Everton and Aston Villa - all with more than 80%
  • Despite the view that a club is for life, 9% admit to having transferred their allegiance

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See also:

24 May 01 |  Scotland
Museum: Scots are 'most important'
12 May 01 |  Wales
The sun shines on Cardiff
05 May 01 |  BBC Pundits
When passion isn't enough
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