What makes a ‘real’ football fan these days? A tattoo of your team’s badge somewhere on your body? Having every home and away shirt for the last 20 years? Sounds crazy, but is it that you actually go to games, have a season ticket or maybe even go to away matches? Times have changed and the prestige of proving yourself as a ‘real’ or ‘hard-core’ fan these days is a tough task.
No longer does the average football fan have the money to be able to fund a full season of watching their favourite team and with advances in technology, we can now probably stream every game our team plays straight in to our living room via the internet, so what’s the point in spending half your wages on actually going when all your beloved club seem to do is raise prices?
I used to love an away day. It was usually a chance for a weekend of partying in one of the UK’s major cities (Burnley town centre doesn’t quite cut it!) combined with Football … heaven. Following your team away is special; the buzz of being part of a small but vocal group who represent all your fans at your rival’s ground is something special to us fans. But try doing this now; it is a killer on the bank balance. You are looking at £50 for a hotel, £40+ for a match day ticket, £100 for beer, £50 for food and that’s not even mentioning those add-ons you don’t think about, like the cost of petrol.
Take tonight’s match for Swansea City fans; it is their first Premier League game ever as they kick-off their season away to title-contenders Manchester City. Fans will no doubt be bursting with excitement at the prospect of new-boy Leroy Lita bearing down on England’s number one, Joe Hart. More than that, it is a historic match for Swansea City fans. Who wouldn’t want to be there, but who can afford to actually go? A lucky few may have taken today off work and made a long weekend of the kick-off to a new season, others simply may wish to go but not the funds to make this a reality. With today’s travel costs, getting there in the first place is expensive, especially with the cost of petrol continually rising and we are talking about just one game; how about the cost over a whole season? Research from the Ford motor company shows that, for a Swansea fan driving to all 19 away games this season, they will travel 8,654 miles and spend approx £1,133 on fuel.
Quite a shocking amount of money, especially when a Premier League fan will spend approximately £760 (average £40 per ticket) just on away tickets on top of this, that’s the best part of £2,000 just on travel and the ticket without anything else.
I have never thought about it like this before and I bet most of you have never thought about it like that before either. One of my mates was determined to go home and away for his club for a full season … he did during the 2006/07 and 2007/08 seasons, financially crippling himself to the tune of £13k, a debt that will be paid back by Feb 2012! Things are only more expensive now, there is no doubt help is needed for us modern-day fans.
Technology may be taking over in the home resulting in you physically attending less matches because it is simply cheaper not to and you can at least watch the match live. But not all new technology is taking fans out of stadiums and in to front rooms; Ford (who have sponsored the UEFA Champions League over the last 10 years or so) have come up with a new innovation perfect for the away-day traveller; the Ford Eco-Route. Here comes the technical bit: the navigation system calculates the most fuel-efficient route based on the characteristics of the vehicle and map data, avoiding junctions and minor roads. The bottom line is that for a Swansea fan travelling 8,654 miles over the season they can save an incredible £170 if they had a new Ford. That leaves a bit more cash to splash on the missus and keep her sweet while you’re on the road with the boys.
And it’s not just the Premier League new-boys’ fans that will feel the benefit, but their more seasoned counterparts in the upper echelons of England’s top division. When Arsenal travel to Swansea shortly after Christmas, your average Gooner may be a little short of cash after the Christmas period; fear not! With Ford you can save £8.77 over the return journey. That’s a posh box of chocolates for the out-laws on the way home.
One of the missions of Football Rascal is to make away travel as cheap as possible for all fans that want to go away to support their team, there will be more on this later in the year. Every saving helps, the major drawback with Ford is that you have to buy a car to enjoy the benefits of the system, but a lot of us will drive a Ford. Over the next two years there will be more and more advances to making things cheaper before football is forced to adopt an American approach and have only home fans at games. We are lucky to live on a small island so we should make the most of it where we can and keep football away days alive.
Let’s take this opportunity to welcome Swansea City supporters to their first time mixing it with the best England has to offer. While we can’t guarantee that you’ll come away from Eastlands with three points tonight (Edin Dzeko now looks like he may now be ready for the English game and David Silva has looked majestic in pre-season), thanks to Ford you may well come back with a little more money in your back pocket than expected.
Ford Eco-Route and can be found in the navigation systems of the all new Ford Focus, C-MAX and Grand C-MAX models. More information at www.ford.co.uk