The True Cost of Supporting an EFL Team

The True Cost of Supporting an EFL Team

With the 2021/22 season now behind us, we have taken a look into the true cost of support for all sides in the EFL Championship, League One and League Two. 

By adding up season ticket costs (lowest available adult price), cost of away ticket (based on the average ticket cost in the divisions), cost of train travel (the most popular mode of transport amongst football fans) and the cost of Wembley for those teams who made it to the playoff finals in each division. 

As almost 60% of supporters opt for trains when travelling away, rising transport costs have hit supporters hard this season.

Steve Madgwick - Senior Editor - OLBG.com

That meant we were able to come up with a good estimate of how much fans who have followed their team home and away this year have spent doing so. Our findings for all clubs showed the biggest expense by far is travel and while we looked at the most popular mode in trains, there are cheaper alternatives such as coaches put on by fan groups, but that does add to the time spent on the road significantly. Plus there are only a limited number of spaces available.

Here’s the full breakdown of fans following their teams home and away for the Championship, League One and League Two during the 2021/22 campaign…

Championship


Club Average ticket cost (away) Total Away ticket cost Total travel cost (train) Average train cost per game Season ticket costs (lowest adult price) Wembley ticket Trains to Wembley TOTAL
Middlesborough £25.50 £586.50 £2,751.95 £119.65 £420.00 £ - £ - £3,758.45
Bournemouth £25.50 £586.50 £2,541.27 £110.49 £550.00 £ - £ - £3,677.77
Swansea £25.50 £586.50 £2,426.04 £105.48 £299.00 £ - £ - £3,311.54
Hull City £25.50 £586.50 £2,057.12 £89.44 £360.00 £ - £ - £3,003.62
Cardiff City £25.50 £586.50 £2,110.25 £91.75 £249.00 £ - £ - £2,945.75
Bristol City £25.50 £586.50 £1,981.91 £86.17 £375.00 £ - £ - £2,943.41
Blackpool £25.50 £586.50 £1,925.33 £83.71 £309.00 £ - £ - £2,820.83
Reading £25.50 £586.50 £1,903.48 £82.76 £319.00 £ - £ - £2,808.98
Huddersfield £25.50 £586.50 £1,693.95 £73.65 £299.00 £65.00 £131.20 £2,775.65
Luton £25.50 £586.50 £1,738.80 £75.60 £450.00 £ - £ - £2,775.30
Blackburn Rovers £25.50 £586.50 £1,764.79 £76.73 £399.00 £ - £ - £2,750.29
Preston £25.50 £586.50 £1,756.74 £76.38 £370.00 £ - £ - £2,713.24
QPR £25.50 £586.50 £1,848.05 £80.35 £225.00 £ - £ - £2,659.55
Peterborough £25.50 £586.50 £1,711.43 £74.41 £349.00 £ - £ - £2,646.93
Fulham £25.50 £586.50 £1,636.91 £71.17 £385.00 £ - £ - £2,608.41
Millwall £25.50 £586.50 £1,667.73 £72.51 £350.00 £ - £ - £2,604.23
Barnsley £25.50 £586.50 £1,577.57 £68.59 £285.00 £ - £ - £2,449.07
Sheffiled United £25.50 £586.50 £1,502.82 £65.34 £357.50 £ - £ - £2,446.82
Nottingham Forest £25.50 £586.50 £1,324.11 £57.57 £385.00 £65.00 £80.00 £2,440.61
Coventry £25.50 £586.50 £1,347.80 £58.60 £345.00 £ - £ - £2,279.30
West Brom £25.50 £586.50 £1,363.67 £59.29 £329.00 £ - £ - £2,279.17
Stoke City £25.50 £586.50 £1,387.82 £60.34 £294.00 £ - £ - £2,268.32
Birmingham £25.50 £586.50 £1,363.67 £59.29 £225.00 £ - £ - £2,175.17
Derby County £25.50 £586.50 £1,257.87 £54.69 £319.00 £ - £ - £2,163.37

Middlesborough supporters find themselves spending the most money following their side both home and away as total costs accumulate to over £3,700. Whilst Middlesborough fans can find themselves purchasing one of the more expensive season tickets in the Championship, with the cheapest Adult price at £420, it is the travel costs where fans are really stung. 

With the highest average return train ticket per game at £119.65, Middlesbrough fans spend over £2,700 per season on train travel to away fixtures. Both South Coast Bournemouth, and Welsh side Swansea closely follow with both travel outlay’s in the region of £2,500 too. 

Premier League-bound Bournemouth and Middlesborough fans spend the most compared to other clubs’ supporters.

Steve Madgwick - Senior Editor - OLBG.com

Luton Town supporters will certainly be thankful that their travel expenditure does not total further up the costing rankings as they have the most expensive season ticket in the league at £450.

Location is certainly key to saving money when following your team in the Championship as those centrally located side’s supporters find their total spending significantly lower than their league counterparts. Derby County, Birmingham City, and Stoke City round off the bottom three spenders with their supporters spending less than half of Middlesborough supporter’s travel costs. Average travel costs per game come in at £60.34 (Stoke City), £59.29 (Birmingham City), and £54.69 (Derby County) among the cheapest in the division. 

Whilst Birmingham City do not quite have the lowest travel costs, despite being located next to major train station Birmingham New Street, their cheapest Adult season ticket is the cheapest in the league at £225. This sets them aside from local rivals West Brom who, although the same train station applies, have slightly higher season ticket prices with the cheapest coming in at £329. 

Birmingham and Derby spend the least following their sides home and away.

Steve Madgwick - Senior Editor - OLBG.com

League One


Club Average ticket cost (away) Total Away ticket cost Total travel cost (train) Average train cost per game Season ticket costs (lowest adult price) Wembley ticket Trains to Wembley TOTAL
Plymouth £21.00 £483.00 £3,543.61 £154.07 £310.00 £4,336.61
Sunderland £21.00 £483.00 £3,045.20 £132.40 £360.00 £65 £161.90 £4,115.10
Portsmouth £21.00 £483.00 £2,277.92 £99.04 £389.00 £3,149.92
Ipswich £21.00 £483.00 £2,307.59 £100.33 £354.00 £3,144.59
Morecombe £21.00 £483.00 £2,008.59 £87.33 £300.00 £2,791.59
Wycombe £21.00 £483.00 £1,808.26 £78.62 £361.00 £65 £16.50 £2,733.76
Cheltenham £21.00 £483.00 £1,896.35 £82.45 £283.00 £2,662.35
Oxford £21.00 £483.00 £1,811.02 £78.74 £329.00 £2,623.02
Cambridge £21.00 £483.00 £1,797.68 £78.16 £319.00 £2,599.68
Charlton £21.00 £483.00 £1,787.56 £77.72 £285.00 £2,555.56
Sheff Wed £21.00 £483.00 £1,594.36 £69.32 £435.00 £2,512.36
Accrington £21.00 £483.00 £1,772.15 £77.05 £219.00 £2,474.15
Lincoln £21.00 £483.00 £1,619.89 £70.43 £365.00 £2,467.89
MK Dons £21.00 £483.00 £1,589.53 £69.11 £369.84 £2,442.37
Gillingham £21.00 £483.00 £1,641.97 £71.39 £300.00 £2,424.97
Fleetwood £21.00 £483.00 £1,731.67 £75.29 £204.00 £2,418.67
Shrewsbury £21.00 £483.00 £1,591.83 £69.21 £335.00 £2,409.83
Bolton £21.00 £483.00 £1,622.65 £70.55 £299.00 £2,404.65
Wigan £21.00 £483.00 £1,511.33 £65.71 £359.00 £2,353.33
Burton £21.00 £483.00 £1,531.80 £66.60 £301.00 £2,315.80
Wimbledon £21.00 £483.00 £1,455.67 £63.29 £375.00 £2,313.67
Rotherham £21.00 £483.00 £1,407.60 £61.20 £355.00 £2,245.60
Crewe £21.00 £483.00 £1,417.49 £61.63 £330.00 £2,230.49
Doncaster £21.00 £483.00 £1,460.96 £63.52 £229.00 £2,172.96

Plymouth Argyle fans incurred the biggest cost to follow their side home and away compared to all other EFL League One sides this season, with a total outlay of over £4,300. A large chunk of that figure is down to travel costs, with Plymouth’s location meaning fans have to shell out more than most to follow their side on the road. 

Poor Old Plymouth Fans

With complete season costs of over £4300, The Pilgrims could not be better named, with the highest supporting costs of any English football League team and the furthest distance to travel.

Similarly, Sunderland who enjoyed a playoff final victory against Wycombe at Wembley to secure Championship football next season also had great distances to travel for away games. Black Cats fans had to travel to the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham and Doncaster for a ‘close’ away day this season, and that still meant around a two hour journey time. So even with the expense of Wembley, Sunderland would still finish with the second-highest spend  

Portsmouth were next on the list and encountered the same problems as Argyle and Makems fans in terms of travel costs. Although the geographical split of teams appeared to be in their favour slightly compared to the aforementioned clubs, with Pompey’s spend coming in at over a grand less than the top two.

Longest League One Travellers

Geographical positioning puts Plymouth, Sunderland and Portsmouth fans as those spending the most to follow their teams home and away

Ipswich placed just behind them by a mere £5.43, which again was down to location with the Town being in the isolated Norfolk area, where the only side nearby is Norwich City, who started the season two divisions above their rivals. 

Morecambe rounded off the top five and are the first side on the list to have a total spend of under £3,000. Fans of the Shrimps still had to fork out close to £2,800 to follow their side home and away this season, as they successfully avoided relegation to League Two. 

At the other end of proceedings, Doncaster (£2,172), Crewe (£2,230) and Rotherham (£2,245) incurred the least amount of total spend, and it's easy to see why with all three clubs being relatively central within England. 

League Two


Club Average ticket cost (away) Total Away ticket cost Total travel cost (train) Average train cost per game Season ticket costs (lowest adult price) Wembley ticket Trains to Wembley TOTAL
Hartlepool £18.26 £419.98 £2,726.42 £118.54 £340.00 £3,486.40
Carlisle £18.26 £419.98 £2,298.39 £99.93 £361.00 £3,079.37
Colchester £18.26 £419.98 £2,285.51 £99.37 £371.00 £3,076.49
Swindon Town £18.26 £419.98 £2,061.72 £89.64 £350.00 £2,831.70
Barrrow £18.26 £419.98 £2,120.60 £92.20 £285.00 £2,825.58
Bristol Rovers £18.26 £419.98 £2,033.89 £88.43 £315.00 £2,768.87
Crawley £18.26 £419.98 £2,016.64 £87.68 £290.00 £2,726.62
Scunthorpe £18.26 £419.98 £1,978.92 £86.04 £295.00 £2,693.90
Mansfield Town £18.26 £419.98 £1,732.13 £75.31 £375.00 £65.00 £90.60 £2,682.71
Sutton United £18.26 £419.98 £1,920.04 £83.48 £299.00 £2,639.02
Stevenage £18.26 £419.98 £1,867.60 £81.20 £300.00 £2,587.58
Harrogate £18.26 £419.98 £1,878.41 £81.67 £269.00 £2,567.39
Newport £18.26 £419.98 £1,780.20 £77.40 £263.00 £2,463.18
Bradford £18.26 £419.98 £1,789.40 £77.80 £198.00 £2,407.38
Northampton £18.26 £419.98 £1,699.01 £73.87 £230.00 £2,348.99
Port Vale £18.26 £419.98 £1,462.80 £63.60 £315.00 £65.00 £85.00 £2,347.78
Leyton Orient £18.26 £419.98 £1,620.35 £70.45 £199.00 £2,239.33
Exeter £18.26 £419.98 £1,620.35 £96.50 £313.00 £2,353.33
Forest Green £18.26 £419.98 £1,482.81 £64.47 £306.00 £2,208.79
Walsall £18.26 £419.98 £1,428.99 £62.13 £336.00 £2,184.97
Rochdale £18.26 £419.98 £1,572.05 £68.35 £175.00 £2,167.03
Oldham £18.26 £419.98 £1,460.50 £63.50 £270.00 £2,150.48
Tranmere £18.26 £419.98 £1,248.21 £54.27 £376.00 £2,044.19
Salford £18.26 £419.98 £1,248.21 £54.27 £167.00 £1,835.19

North East based duo Hartlepool United and Carlisle came out on top, with avid fans spending £3,486 and £3,079 respectively. Both sides were each other's closest away game by some distance, with no other clubs in the area in League Two. 

Colchester were not far behind though, as fans spent just under £3 less than Carlisle throughout the course of the season. This is perhaps a bit of a surprise given Colchester's location and the proximity to London, which you would think is an advantage when travelling.

Swindon Town and Barrow completed the top five, with a minimal difference of around £6 in spend between the two. The former had a relatively high season ticket price compared to most in the division at £350 which is a big reason why they placed so highly. 

Hartlepool and Carlisle are Costly

Unsurprisingly Hartlepool and Carlisle fans had to stand over £3000 each to follow their sides this season

Elsewhere, North West based trio Salford, Oldham and Tranmere made up the bottom three, with the Class of 92 owned club’s fans spending the least by some distance at £1835.19 across the season. Of course, location played a part for all three, but Salford’s extremely low season ticket price of just £167 was the main difference, particularly as their train travel spend was exactly the same as Tranmere’s. That saved fans over £200 compared to their neighbours. 

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