Football is big business these days, and unfortunately it is often the fans that pay the price. This year more than half of Premier League clubs hiked the price of season tickets, and for some of the top flight teams a season ticket can run into the thousands.
If you're keen to watch live football but can't afford the big bucks, here are a few tips on where and how to find the cheap seats.
Despite the soaring cost, many diehard fans still save for the cost of a season ticket, but unless it's an important match, there are usually seats available to all comers. They do, however, vary greatly in terms of price. At Arsenal, for example, the cheapest match day ticket is £27 - the most expensive, a whopping £129.50. At Hull, on the other hand, you can see a home game for a very reasonable £16, with the pricier seats weighing in at £50 a pop.
If you support a particular club, visit the relevant website to find out where the cheaper seats are located (typically behind the goal or towards the corners). There are usually two or three categories, A to C, so look for availability there if you want to save a few pounds. Although you might not get the best view of the match, in some cases, such as the famous Kop at Liverpool, you'll get the best of the atmosphere.
Consider cheaper matches
The top-flight games and the big derby matches command a premium when it comes to tickets, but if you're fan of the game you can still enjoy some great football for a relative bargain price. Why not consider going to see under-21s matches or testimonials. In the case of the former, tickets are very reasonable. For example, tickets for an under-21s match at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge are just £5 for adults and £3 for concessions. And you never know, you might just catch a glimpse of the next big name.
Testimonials also offer the chance to see some of the famous names, often both past and present, so keep your eye open for upcoming games at your club's website. And don't forget friendlies. Though you'll have missed the boat for pre-season club friendlies this year, there will be internationals between the Euro qualifiers that won't cost you the earth, and Premier League friendlies going on during the summertime, frequently against some of the big clubs in Europe.
Even if you're a fan of a Premier League team, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy supporting a more local, low-level club and make the most of tickets that are a fraction of the price of those at the top flight.
The Championship, one league below the Premier, offers exciting football without the exorbitant prices. For example, advance tickets to see Leeds vs Wolverhampton this Saturday are £24 for adults, but juniors can see the game for just £5. Similarly, tickets to see Brighton & Hove Albion range can be snapped up from £20 for seniors to £25 for adults, with under-18s getting in for £10 and under-10s for £5. Once again, prices vary depending on seat location.
Go even further down the leagues and you'll be able to watch live footie without breaking the bank, so don't forget your local club. Remember, they might turn out to be this season's FA Cup giantkillers, and that means big names at bargain prices.
Are you a football fan on a budget? What are your top tips for getting cheaper tickets? Leave your comments below...