Football’s problem, non-league’s opportunity?
The story of rising tickets prices and the next generation being squeezed from the game is sadly well told. Right now an 18 year old supporter of a Premier League team is paying an average of £526 for a season ticket, not to mention other match day spending. A few months ago research by ‘thinkmoney’ found that the average 18-24 year old in the UK had just £2,090 disposable income a year. Put those statistics together and football has a problem. Or does it?
Premier League football has a problem, non-league football has an opportunity.
Ok, so many 18-24 year olds will head to the pub or watch games at home. Plus there is the hype from broadcasters giving you the feeling a new pundit is on a par with your club signing a galactico – how long before we see ball juggling in the carpark outside a TV studio?
But believe it or not, not all the stereotypes of the youth of today preferring entertainment electronically are true. Some like the real thing, and some like both. From my experience of speaking to non-league clubs, more and more young adults appear to be doing the unthinkable – supporting more than one club. Often a team they follow on the telly and a team they can go and watch.
Some Non-League clubs appear to be seizing an opportunity. In recent months AFC Telford United have won some heritage funding for a project called ‘Building the Telford Tribe’ to enable young people an opportunity to discover the roots and history of the club and the more experienced to reminisce. FC United of Manchester have developed the 1830 branch for 18 to 30 year olds following a survey of 150 of their younger supporters.
Both schemes will hopefully provide a platform for their future support, and make a difference when deciding who to watch isn’t as influenced by disposable income and availability of tickets.