Football

Fans being turned off by game

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Premier League clubs may be courting Arab trillionaires but it is a different story for their supporters, the majority of whom are being priced out of watching live football on television, according to a new survey.

Around 73% of supporters polled by a research company on behalf of CentreForum, an independent think-tank aligned to this week's Liberal Democratic conference, said they felt excluded from the game.

The chief executive of Supporters Direct, Dave Boyle, said: "The game seems to be relentlessly pursuing poorer fans and forcing them to make ever greater sacrifices."

He added: "For all the talk of the glamour and the global impact of the game, of billionaires and now trillionaires, there's a price being paid at the sharp end.

"That price keeps getting higher and the people who are hurt the most by this are the people in the poorest communities who have traditionally been the bedrock of the game, who have helped build it and make it what it is today."

Of those fans priced out of live football, 77% said they wished to watch more live sport than they do. Also, 75% said it has become too expensive to attend a live game at a stadium or sports ground.

Former Chelsea and England international Graeme Le Saux said: "Football fans create the great atmosphere that is a crucial part of what makes playing in the Premiership so special.

"We must ensure that people of all ages and backgrounds are not priced out of seeing their team play. It would be football's loss."

Don Foster, the Shadow Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, vowed to address the issue in Parliament next month in a bid to ensure the game's traditional fan-base is not excluded.

Foster said: "We have a Premier League with the lowest number of home-grown players in Europe, rip-off ticket prices at our grounds, and rising costs to watch live sport on TV. I along with Parliamentary colleagues will be raising this issue with Government when the House returns next month, to see what can be done to ease the pain of ordinary football fans."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2008, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
Internationals
Football
Graeme Le Saux
Chelsea
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