Football and MoneySaving: A marriage made in hell

What £1,400 pays for

What £1,400 pays for

I’ve got a confession. I work for MoneySavingExpert.com but fail in practising what I preach in one area of my life.

I’ll have spent roughly £1,500 this football season watching my team, Arsenal.

If you don’t like football, you probably think I’m mad.

But let me take you into the irrational mind of the average fan to show how sensible thinking and football have about as much in common as Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli and, er, rational thinking.

Strange behaviour

I pay to be largely frustrated by an at-times brilliant team that often fails at the final hurdle, waiting for the next defensive calamity which can leave you tearing your hair out, as the following example shows.

Three years ago, one of my mates ordered us in a rage to leave our seats in protest when striker Nicklas Bendter missed another glorious chance.

We looked at him as if he had a screw loose, especially as Arsenal were winning.

There have been many great moments. But for me over recent years, and for most fans, there are more lows than highs.

At this point, fans of most other clubs will say: "How can he moan about watching Arsenal?"

Yet whether you’re happy or not depends whether your team matches your expectations, which are different for all. Arsenal have not won a trophy since 2005, following just under two decades of constant success.

Whoever we support, millions of us spend huge sums watching 22 men kick a bit of leather around a field.

Their actions can shape our mood for a few hours, which is odd when you step back and think about it.

Another of my pals used to ban his girlfriend talking about football if Arsenal had lost. She’s now his ex.

Those stories about my mates really are about my mates, but I’m not immune to strange thinking.

Superstitious fans

I’ll no longer watch away games in a particular pub after Arsenal lost to QPR when I watched there two weeks ago, the latest defeat at that pub.

My presence there was exactly why centre-back Thomas Vermaelen slipped for QPR’s winner, you see.

It’s these strange thoughts that explain our irrational spending decisions.

This season my season ticket cost £1,400 (for all league games + seven cup games), though I sell my seat for the odd game I can’t attend. I also go to a few away matches.

I want to pay less. I wasn’t happy with the 7% rise on my season ticket last summer (at least they’re frozen next season, though), but I’ll always pay or I’d lose my front row seat in the upper tier in the Clock End (see main pic for view).

Because of this attitude, shared by many nationwide, clubs have us by the throat.

Prices are ridiculous. A report yesterday by Virgin Money found the cost of football is rising at three and a half times the rate of inflation.

Its finding that the average ticket costs £25 made me chuckle. My seat costs £53.80 per game, though I have a good seat watching the third-best team in the country (based on the current league table).

Many have sadly been priced out of the game over recent years, but there are still enough to continue filling colossal stadia week in, week out, even during a financial crisis.

I do pay the right way

At least I buy my season ticket on a credit card which is 0% interest on season tickets for life, sadly no longer available to new customers.

When people question the cost, I often ask them if they smoke. If they do, I say they probably spend the same, if not more, on cigarettes. Yet I don’t smoke.

That’s my poor attempt at rational justification.

However, when Theo Walcott races through and smashes the ball into the bottom corner of the Sp#rs (sorry, not allowed to swear on MSE) net to make it 5-2 and rub our north London neighbours’ noses in it … moments like that are what I pay for.

And you know what? They’re priceless.

Are you a football nut or do you think I’m a MoneySpendingExpert? You can comment in the discussion section below, in the MSE Forum, or give me abuse on Twitter (@guyanker).