The cost of Christmas football revealed by Virgin Media and FSF

23rd December 2016

Football fans face an average cost of almost £140 to watch their teams play away over the Christmas period, according to new research by Virgin Media and the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF).

The research has been carried out to highlight the disproportionate amount travelling fans have to spend on tickets, transport and food to get behind their teams across England and Wales between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

Over the Christmas fixture list, fans from 46 clubs will need to travel twice to support their teams away.

The findings underpin the FSF’s ‘Twenty’s Plenty’ campaign, backed by Virgin Media, which calls on clubs to cap the cost of an away ticket to £20, which will help reduce the overall amount fans have to spend to support their club.

High costs to watch kick off

At club level, Bristol City supporters face the highest costs of all supporters over the festive period, as the research shows they will pay on average £185 to get behind the Robins at Wolverhampton Wanderers and then Ipswich Town.

As well as the ticket costs, fans could spend more than £100 on return travel, clocking up more than 630 miles in the process.

Overall, Premier League fans will pay the most on average out of supporters in all the leagues, spending almost £150 to watch their team play away. It has been estimated they will travel on average more than 430 miles and endure nearly 10 hours on the road or on public transport.

For example, Sunderland’s fans will spend on average £174 to watch the Black Cats at Manchester United and then at Burnley.

Clocking up the miles

The analysis shows the average fan from each of the 46 clubs playing over the Christmas break will make return trips totalling almost 17,600 miles, which is more than 20 times the distance from Land’s End to John O’ Groats.

WBA fans face the highest transport costs, with petrol or rail fares totalling more than £90 on average to see the Baggies travel to Southampton and then Arsenal.

Cardiff City fans face the most arduous journeys to support the Bluebirds at Brentford and then Brighton & Hove Albion, with the prospect of travelling more than 690 miles over two return trips, which could take almost 14 hours via cars, coaches or trains, costing more than £95 each. 

Crystal Palace fans have the shortest trips, with just 144 miles to travel see the Eagles play Watford and then Arsenal away.

Kevin Miles, Chief Executive of the FSF, said: “These figures highlight the dedication and devotion shown by away supporters who travel the length and breadth of the country to follow their teams."

"Away fans are vital in bringing colour and noise to our football stadiums, and clubs and sponsors can and should do more in making football more affordable at a time when more money is coming in to the top of the game than ever before. They shouldn't take away fans for granted."

Summary table showing the average cost, driving distances and hours away fans face between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day:


Average cost

Total average driving distances (miles)

Total average travel  hours (mix of car and public transport)

Premier League










League 1





League 2





Total averages:







Note to editors

This season, Virgin Media is subsidising every visiting supporter’s ticket from every Premier League club travelling to Southampton – meaning adult fans will pay just £20 to see their team play at St Mary’s. Virgin Media is the official shirt sponsor of Southampton from the 2016/17 season.

These findings have been calculated based on a range of factors:

Stadium postcodes were used as a proxy for point-to-point travel estimates. Driving distance and time were measured in miles, based on a shortest driving travel time from stadium to stadium.

Public transport travel time was based on Google Maps returns, extracted at the same time as driving information.

Public transport costs were based on recommended routes as defined by Google Maps, extracted from on 12/12/16.

Day return pricing was based on 12/12/16 and actual match day, where applicable. Cheapest price return tickets, including discounted fares used. For simplicity, travel time of c.11am and return of c.7pm was used for each extract. Same day return travel assumed, therefore no cost of accommodation included.

Where a bus, tube or tram leg is required, a flat cost of £5 is defined for each mode of transport, regardless of the number of instances. For example, three separate bus journeys would generate a cost of £5.

Driving costs were extracted from based on return journey.  Petrol prices £1.1393/litre and 35mpg. 20% non-optimal driving offset adjustment, increased from 15% to reflect potential winter weather conditions, roadworks and additional congestion.

Assumed mix of public transport vs driving is based estimates derived from “Door to turnstile – improving travel choices for football fans”, Campaign for better transport 2013. Two travellers are assumed where respondents indicated shared driving.

Where public transport is not available on day of travel - for the majority of games on 26/12/16 - all fans are assumed to drive.

Food and drink costs are based on survey results, by league, as reported in “Door to turnstile – improving travel choices for football fans”, Campaign for better transport 2013.

Average ticket prices per league were estimated based on FSF data where away tickets ranged from £29 to £21.

For the purpose of league-based averages, away attendance assumptions per league are based on Premier League data which showed 2015-16 average away attendance was 2, 262.  EFL average away attendance based on 2014-15 (latest available): Championship 1,400, League One 668 and League Two 473.