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Which football club in the South East gives fans the best value for money?

By Liam Tucker
20 June 2022

We have a look at the cost of supporting Portsmouth FC, Brighton & Hove Albion FC’s, Southampton FC, Reading FC, Oxford United FC , MK Dons and AFC Bournemouth to determine which fans get the best value for money.

Most of us have little choice in which club we support - having either chosen our stripes as a youngster or having had our passion bestowed on us by friends and family. While that means we simply have to stomach bad results, it also means wins and good results feel all the more satisfying when our team plays well.

Aside from the fortunes of our chosen clubs, another thing we can’t control is the cost of supporting our beloved teams. With the economy in a less than favourable position, value for money counts more than ever these days, so let’s take a look at which club based in the South East provides their fans with the best value for money in the form of the match day experience they provide - from buying tickets to supping a pint before kick off.

Season Tickets

Starting with the biggest outlay a devoted fan can expect to make, season tickets are a significant investment and every supporter awaits the arrival of a new campaign’s season ticket pricing with bated breath - and with the hope of a price freeze at the forefront of their minds.

Starting with the Premiership and looking at the cheapest season ticket on offer, Southampton’s lowest price is an affordable £399 to watch an entire season’s games at St Mary’s. If you’re looking for the cheapest available seat at Brighton & Hove Albion FC’s ground, a season ticket at the Amex will set you back £545, whilst heading to newly promoted Bournemouth will cost you, at the least, £550 for a full season’s seat at the Vitality Stadium.

On the next rung down, a season ticket to watch Championship survivors Reading FC will set you back £305 - and given their financial situation, you’re guaranteed drama. Then moving into League 1, the lowest tier for a season-long pass for Portsmouth sets Pompey fans back £439, whilst a season ticket for Oxford United will cost you £359, with MK Dons charging £369 for a campaign’s viewing.

Best value: Reading FC’s season tickets are far and away the cheapest and give supporters the added bonus of providing Championship football to view.

Match day tickets

For those who can’t commit to an entire season’s live viewing, Match Day tickets are all important - and teams in the Premier League have very similar pricing for a one-off match. Southampton’s prices start at £30 - but if you want a better view of the pitch, you can go for their £89 option. Brighton & Hove Albion FC meanwhile offer prices ranging from £30 to £65 - and considering they finished in the top half of the top flight, that’s not bad at all. Bournemouth also have a reasonable range, with tickets priced from £32 to £55 - and for that you’ll get the added bonus of enjoying watching a newly promoted side with a spring in its step (albeit at a smaller, older and altogether less impressive stadium).

In the Championship, as you might expect, prices are a lot less steep. If you’re looking to watch a Reading FC game, you can invest in a match day ticket from between £18 and £25.

Looking at the EFL 1, tickets are extremely affordable. Oxford United’s tickets are priced at £24 at the lower end and £28 for a better seat, which isn’t bad for a day out. If you’re out in Milton Keynes, you can pick up a ticket for MK Dons for between £22 and £30. Prices to watch Portsmouth in the upcoming campaign aren’t available at the time of writing, but a spokesman at the ground tells us they’ll be in the same region as the Dons and the U’s.

Best value: It’s a tough one to call, but watching a team that finished in the top half of the top flight for £30 - even if your view might not be the best - Brighton & Hove Albion FC just about win this one.

Replica shirt prices

Buying a shirt for an upcoming campaign in pre-season means you’re going to pay full whack - so how much are Premier League sides charging for an adult male’s strip? At both Southampton FC and Bournemouth, you can get a top for £55, whilst Brighton are offering their seagull-festooned shirts at a slightly more economical £52.

The Seagull’s replica shirts cost the same as those you can pick up for Reading FC which are also priced at £52, which may seem a little steep, but considering their financial woes, makes a lot of sense.

Down in League 1, you can get more bang for your buck with Portsmouth FC charging £31.50 for a top, Oxford United offering their shirts for £35 a pop and MK Dons selling their strips for £40 a jersey.

Best value: If you’re a proud Pompey fan, you’ll surely be more than happy with the £31.50 outlay for your chosen colours. Portsmouth FC are the clear winners here.

Food and drink

Food prices at football stadiums are always a massive bone of contention for football fans, with many feeling that they’re overcharged for the goods they consume at the ground.

Looking at the Premier League’s prices - to grab yourself a pre-game burger and a pint - at Bournemouth you’ll set yourself back £7.50. For the same package at Southampton, you’ll find yourself reaching into your wallet for £8.00. Most expensive of those in the top flight - but still pretty fair, we’d say - Brighton will charge £9.10 for the same refreshments.

Best value: You can’t really argue with £7.50 for a beer and a burger. Great pricing from AFC Bournemouth.

Watching the games at home

If you’re a fan of watching matches on the sofa, you’re not exactly well-served by British broadcasters. Anyone outside of the UK wanting to watch any games across the leagues has a much better chance of seeing a game as ex-pats are allowed to stream games legally for a fee. For those living in the teams’ host nations, they are at the mercy of broadcasters who decide which games to broadcast throughout the season based on their own strategies. There’s also the 3pm Saturday black out to bear in mind, meaning no broadcaster can view games played at that time on any given week.

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Outside of 3pm kick offs, during the 21/22 season, Sky TV showed most UK games and a monthly subscription to their sports package stands at £33.99. BT Sports also buy a few matches, but nowhere near as many, and their monthly package stands at £16.00 per month. Finally, Amazon broadcast a handful of games on their Prime service, at a far more affordable rate of £5.99 per month.

If you support a team in the lower leagues, for non-3pm kick offs, iFollow is your only legal option and watching games on that service costs around £10 per game, pretty much uniformly.

Clearly, the money for the big TV broadcasters comes from broadcasting games played by teams with bigger audiences, so Premier League matches take priority - and the number of games for any PL team will hinge on how successful they are deemed to be in the moment.

Best value: Simply because of broadcasting laws combined with broadcaster-strategy, Brighton & Hove Albion FC have to be said to provide the best value here, because they are currently the most successful team in the South East, so are likely to get more exposure - but that’s not the fault of any of the other clubs.

Conclusion: As we’ve seen, there are so many variables when considering which club from the South East provides more bang for a fan’s buck - with the equation for figuring out which team’s fans should be most satisfied being incredibly complex. Despite that, having finished ninth in the Premier League in 21/22 and continuing to show huge potential on the pitch - combined with decently priced match day tickets and the likelihood of seeing more televised matches, we’d say Brighton supporters should be the happiest of football clubs based in the South East from that all important financial perspective. Glory, glory, Brighton & Hove Albion.