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Volume 6 No. 212

International Football

The BBC's Sport Price of Football study has found that average ticket prices across English football's top four divisions "have fallen by up to 2.4%," according to the BBC. The annual study -- "the biggest in British football" -- includes the prices of 164 clubs in the top 10 divisions. U.K. Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said, "The key thing is that it is replicated in years to come. I think clubs are beginning to understand what fans are going through and to adjust their prices accordingly." In the top four divisions of English football, the "biggest fall was 2.4% for the cheapest adult season ticket category," down from £344 ($545) in '12 to £336 ($531) this year. The average for the most expensive adult season ticket fell 1.6% -- from £546 ($864) in '12 to £537 ($850) in '13. The average for the "cheapest adult match-day ticket is down 1.9%."

ARSENAL MOST EXPENSIVE: The study also found that the "most expensive ticket in English football" remains at EPL side Arsenal, where a category A adult matchday ticket can cost up to £126 ($199). Arsenal's cheapest ticket is £26 ($41). The "cheapest adult season ticket in the Premier League" is £299 ($473) at Man City. The most expensive is £1,955 ($3,100) at Arsenal, "although this includes seven cup matches." The "cheapest adult match-day ticket in men's football" is £7 ($11) at Scottish League Two side Albion Rovers -- the only men's club to charge less than £10 ($16). The "most expensive pies in British football" are at EPL Crystal Palace and fifth-tier side Kidderminster, with both charging £4 ($6). The "most expensive cup of tea" is £2.50 ($4) at ManU -- the same as in '12. Meanwhile, the Premier League saw a "4.3% rise in the average price of the cheapest season tickets" (BBC, 9/12).

EXPLOITATION 'AN OUTRAGE': EUROSPORT reported in light of the new figures, British Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron said that "more should be done to make football affordable." Farron said, "The reality is, if you are Manchester United or Liverpool the demand is very inelastic: people will pay nearly anything to go and watch their team. They will grumble and they will complain, they will make all sorts of other sacrifices, they will go and watch their team. If you want to be cynical from the point of view of clubs, they will just take advantage of that, and that is an outrage, frankly. It's an obscenity how much footballers get paid, but having said that it's a free market. I don't blame footballers for taking it, up to a point. But undoubtedly it is going to a situation where it is unsustainable" (EUROSPORT, 9/12).

CHAMPIONSHIP: The BBC's Karen Fazackerley reported League Championship club Huddersfield Town provides the "cheapest Championship match-day experience for the second consecutive season." The lowest-priced adult ticket has remained at £10, with the addition of a match program, a cup of tea and pie making a total "day-out cost" of £17.80 ($28). Blackpool has the Championship's cheapest season ticket at £195.30 ($309). Ipswich's are the most expensive at £1,061 ($1,700) (BBC, 9/12).

LEAGUE ONE: The BBC's Andy Cryer reported League One side Sheffield United offers the cheapest match-day experience in the Football League for the second successive season. Sheffield's cheapest adult matchday ticket is £10 with the cost of a program, a cup of tea and a pie adding £7.70 ($12) to a visit to Bramall Lane (BBC, 9/12).

SCOTTISH PREMIERSHIP: The BBC's Andy Campbell reported "the average cost of the cheapest match-day tickets in the Scottish Premiership rose by more than 3% in the past year." The average price of the league's cheapest season tickets, however, is "1% down on last year's equivalent" (BBC, 9/12).

EPL clubs have agreed to work with a commission set up by the FA "to improve the development of players available to England," according to James Riach of the London GUARDIAN. The backing was secured at Thursday's meeting of Premier League shareholders in London, which was attended by FA Chair Greg Dyke after he claimed in his opening speech in the role last week that "English football is a tanker that needs turning." Despite antagonism between the FA and the Premier League since the division's inception in '92, all 20 club chairmen and the league's board agreed to work with the FA to "contribute their expertise, knowledge and understanding of the issues and challenges in regard to producing England-qualified talent." Less than 10% of the £630M ($996M) spent on new signings during the summer transfer window went on English players and Dyke has invited the Football League, Professional Footballers' Association and League Managers Association as well to join the commission, "which could be established this month" (GUARDIAN, 9/12). REUTERS' Keith Weir reported the EPL is the richest in the world "but there is frustration among fans about its clubs' failure to produce as many good young players as rivals do in countries like Germany, Spain and the Netherlands." Critics argue that "the financial rewards of the Premier League encourage teams to buy in foreign players as a short cut to ensure survival or success." The Premier League is investing £340M ($538M) "to try to improve its academies" (REUTERS, 9/12).

Man City fans "have reacted furiously after extra tickets for their Champions League match with Czech outfit Viktoria Plzen went on sale" -- for a staggering £86 ($115), according to Mike Keegan of the MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS. The Blues "head to Bohemia on Tuesday night for their first match in this season's competition and it appears as though the hosts are attempting to cash in." It "will be held at the compact 11,700-capacity Doosnan Arena." Originally, Man City was given just 600 tickets, priced at £47 ($63). The "relatively small number prompted despair with many more wanting to make the trip to a previously unvisited destination." Those 600 "were rapidly snapped up but this afternoon (Wednesday) the eye-watering extras were advertised on the Blues website." Man City said that it has "secured an 'additional, very limited allocation of category 1 tickets' priced at £86 and add that concession prices are not available for the match." Supporters "are also warned that the tickets are located within the home area of the stadium" (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 9/11).

Professional Footballers' Association CEO Gordon Taylor "has emphasised his belief that he is still capable of leading the union despite allegations he has run up large gambling debts," according to the PA. Reports have claimed the 68-year-old, who took up the post in '81, "amassed a personal debt" of more than £100,000 ($158,000) to a bookmaker. Taylor "looks likely to remain in office," having received the "full support" of the PFA in response to the allegations. Taylor said, "I have never claimed to be holier than thou. I have been through most things in life and from that point of view I'll stand by the experience and the help and advice I have given to people." There is "no suggestion Taylor has done anything illegal," but he could "face a fight to save his reputation" after previously speaking strongly about the dangers of gambling (GUARDIAN, 9/12).

EPL Tottenham Hotspur supporters have told the FA that "they plan to stand against the authority's ban against them using the term 'Yid,' which has been deemed derogatory, and are seeking legal advice," according to the London TELEGRAPH. Previously the Metropolitan Police "has advised Tottenham that chants like 'Yid Army' will not lead to prosecution, due to the fact that there was no 'deliberate intention to cause offence,'" though the FA have now decided to intervene. A statement from the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust read, "Whilst we fully recognise that Spurs fans' use of the 'Y word' and associated identity may have caused some upset to members of the Jewish community, we sincerely believe that no Spurs fan uses the term in a malicious way" (TELEGRAPH, 9/12). Spurs Manager Andre Villas Boas said, "The club have issued a statement that is strong and that shows our intent regarding the use of the word. Our fans don’t use it in a negative way. It is something they shout with proudness" (London EVENING STANDARD, 9/12).

French Ligue 1's leading clubs "could be handed some welcome news after French media reported that the country’s government is considering scaling back its controversial 75% rate of tax on high-earning individuals" (SOCCEREX, 9/12). ... Czech police "have charged 12 people suspected of match-fixing and illegal betting" in Czech football leagues and "summoned more than 20 others for questioning." Police "raided 15 homes and other premises in the probe, which the Czech FA said was triggered by the association's findings" (REUTERS, 9/12).