What price do you put on football?

© DC Thomson
Forfar Athletic has the cheapest pies of any football ground in the UK.

Season ticket prices in Scottish football have largely fallen for 2016-17, with many clubs freezing or reducing ticket prices, according to BBC Sport’s annual Price of Football survey. Michael Alexander – who happens to be a Dundee United fan – looks at how Courier Country teams fare in the report.

“You can change your wife, your house, your car but you can never change your team. Chairmen come and go, boards come and go but the fans remain. They are the one true constant.”

The words of the late Dundee United chairman Eddie Thompson came to mind as I clicked on the BBC’s annual Price of Football survey and digested its findings.

The late Dundee United chairman Eddie Thompson© PA
The late Dundee United chairman Eddie Thompson

As a long suffering regular at Tannadice, I know from first-hand experience that it doesn’t matter what clubs charge, a hard core of fans will always fork out.

But that’s not to say the fans won’t drift away if the team doesn’t perform!

The price of pies, after all, doesn’t guarantee quality on the park.

Yet a good – well priced – steak bridie can always ease the pain of watching a dismal match on a cold wet Tuesday night!

With that in mind – and if I wasn’t already of the tangerine and black persuasion – perhaps there might be a case then for heading up the A90 to Station Park where Forfar Athletic are not to be outdone by anyone in the UK it seems as their £1.20 pie washed down with an 80p cuppa is the lowest priced at any football ground in the UK.

Baxter the Bridie - a new Forfar Athletic legend. But he has yet to challenge the price of a Forfar pie!© DC Thomson
Baxter the Bridie – a new Forfar Athletic legend. But he has yet to challenge the price of a Forfar pie!

By contrast, the national football survey reveals, St Johnstone’s £2.10 pie is the most expensive at any football ground in Courier Country with Dundee and Dundee United expecting fans to fork out the most for a £2.10 cup of tea.

At £45 a pop, the Dens and Tannadice Park clubs also charge the most for replica adult football shirts in the area compared to Alloa Athletic and Brechin City who charge £35.

But if it’s cheap football you are after then head for Cowdenbeath!

The lowest priced season ticket in Courier Country can be found at Central Park where The Blue Brazil offer the cheapest season book in the area at £160.

Cowdenbeath's Craig Johnstone (left) and Bryan Wharton of Queens Park. Seaon tickets for The Blue Brazil are the cheapest in Courier Country! © SNS
Cowdenbeath’s Craig Johnstone (left) and Bryan Wharton of Queens Park. Season tickets for The Blue Brazil are the cheapest in Courier Country!

Despite their relegation to the Scottish Championship at the end of last season, Dundee United, whose season ticket prices start at a competitive £279, still offer the dearest season ticket in Courier Country with a top rate of £440.

The overall findings of BBC Sport’s annual Price of Football survey, which gathers season and match day ticket process from clubs across 23 leagues in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and the continent, show that season ticket prices in Scottish football have largely fallen for 2016-17, with many clubs freezing or reducing ticket prices.

Season-ticket charges in the Scottish Premiership fell by 5.5%, largely due to Hamilton Academical cutting the cost of a seat at New Douglas Park by £200, opting for a tag of £150 to try to get numbers through the gates.

Hibs' James Keatings celebrates putting his side ahead aginst Dundee United at Easter Road in October© SNS
Hibs’ James Keatings celebrates putting his side ahead aginst Dundee United at Easter Road in October

League One clubs reduced theirs by much the same percentage, while in League Two they actually fell by nearly 20%.

However, in the Championship they are up slightly, with Hibernian remaining the most expensive for all tickets and catering.

In the Scottish Championship the match day experience comes in at £24.03 on average, with the most expensive match day ticket of £22 at Hibernians’ Easter Road.

There’s a relatively good deal to be had at Starks Park, however, where Raith Rovers over the cheapest match day ticket of £15.

By contrast, a visit to either Celtic Park or Ibrox for an Old Firm game could set you back up to £49 for the ticket alone. And then you’d have to fork out £2.50 for an Ibrox pie – Scotland’s most expensive – or £3.50 for a programme.

Old Firm fans© SNS
Old Firm fans

Overall, if you are going for the full match day experience, taking in a Scottish Premiership game complete with a cup of tea, pie and a programme to browse, it will cost you £28.29, only £2.81 dearer than in 2011.

That’s not a bad deal really when you consider season tickets at Arsenal range from £1,014 to £2,013 whilst a West Ham pie will set you back a cool £4.10!

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: “All 42 SPFL clubs work tirelessly to ensure they have a pricing structure which provides as much value for money as possible, especially for families to help attract the next generation of supporters.

“Reductions in ticket prices help increase accessibility to Scottish football in all corners of the country and all clubs are to be congratulated for their on-going efforts in this area.”

The SPFL also confirmed attendances north of the border are up.

Neil Doncaster© SNS
Neil Doncaster

Doncaster added: “In season 2015-16 some 4.18m supporters attended 860 SPFL league games – up from 4.12m in 2014-15 and 4.06m the year before – and we anticipate that trend continuing this season.”

The SPFL also confirmed that since league restructuring, more than 300,000 supporters have attended play-off matches involving 26 clubs.

*To see the full results of the BBC’s annual Football Price Survey, go to www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/37953195

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