Football fans face replica shirt rip off prices

Football fans in the UK pay more than Europeans for the same shirts

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Football fans are used to being fleeced. They have to pay through the nose for the chance to watch a 0-0 draw on a wet Wednesday evening. They fork out a fortune for TV subscriptions, and they have to spend £50 or more on a replica shirt for the season. So it's a real kick in the teeth to learn that they're paying more for their shirts than their European counterparts.

The discovery was made by The Sun, which looked at the prices charged by the UK's biggest sport retailer, Sports Direct. It then compared the prices with those on the store's European sites, and discovered Brits are routinely being charged far more for the same shirts.

The worst example was the Arsenal Authentic kit from Puma, which cost £79.99 in the UK and £68.15 in Europe - a price difference of £11.84. Second was Barcelona at £54.99 - some £8.14 more expensive. Next was Newcastle United at £51.99 - £7.69 more expensive.

This was followed by the Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and AC Milan strips which were priced at £47.99 - £7.10 more expensive. And next were the West Ham, Liverpool and Spurs strips, which were both priced at £44.99 and both £6.66 more expensive.

Why?

The problem is that there's no reason why Sports Direct should charge the same in each market. The company told the newspaper it aims to be "The cheapest in any market in which it operates," which is very common for any international retailer.

We reported last summer that IKEA was charging three times as much for some items in the UK than elsewhere around the world. At the time it highlighted that prices are subject to a number of factors in each country - so the company factors those differences into the price.

It means that elsewhere in Europe, where local sales taxes, overheads and wages are lower - prices will be lower too. The companies also factor in 'competition', so where there is a keenly-priced competitor in the market, prices will be forced down. Competition in the UK - it seems - leaves something to be desired.

Sports Direct is cheap compared to other retailers in the UK. When you compare these prices to the official shirts on the club sites, it starts to appear great value. The Chelsea shirt, for example, sells for £55 at the Chelsea Megastore - compared to £47.99 at Sorts Direct. Likewise Manchester United sells its home shirt for £60 on United Direct - compared to £47.99 at Sports Direct.

Of course, if you plan to travel elsewhere in Europe this summer, there may be the chance for you to snap up a bargain football shirt on holiday.

But what do you think? Is it only fair for retailers to make as much profit as they can, or is it wrong to cash in on fan loyalty like this? Let us know in the comments.

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