The environmental group Campaign for Better Transport has today published a report Door to turnstile looking at how football fans get to matches and the problems they experience in getting to grounds without the car.
A survey of more than 1,000 fans and a study of how well (or badly) different grounds are served by public transport was used to compile a novelty league table of Premier League clubs, and - after yet another predictable season for the top flight of English football - a refreshing change of table topping clubs.
The report also looked at good examples from other industries and countries – such as the well-known German system where a match ticket will get you to the game for free on public transport over a wide area – and at what several stadiums learned from being used as venues during the 2012 Olympics.
Key survey findings:
23% of fans spend more on travel than they do on a match ticket. Fans travelling by train spend the most and fans that get to the game by walking, cycling and bus spend the least.
The average fan spends £55 on game day, with £13 going on travel, while train travellers spend £74, with £26 of this spent getting to the game. Fans in cars largely share the driving and spend £50 each on the average matchday.
For home games, 43% of fans drive, with 35% taking the train for at least part of their journey. For away fixtures, 57% take the train for at least some games, 44% drive and 20% travel by coach.
Train travel is by far the most popular mode that fans ‘would like to use more’ (36%), followed by the bus (23%) and the tram or tube (17%).
Of the people who said they would like to use public transport more, cost was the most common barrier with prices named by 28% of fans who gave a reason.
The Campaign for Better Transport top 3 were Newcastle United, Arsenal and Fulham - "Newcastle are worthy transport champions with initiatives including season-long matchday public transport for just £10".
Gunners’ fans make full use of good public transport links, and travel planning since the move to the Emirates has reduced the percentage of fans arriving by car from 30% to 10%.
In the relegation zone were Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers, with Reading coming bottom of the table.
Old Trafford’s travel plan is nearly a decade out of date and QPR isn’t making the most of London’s public transport links, while Reading has the least accessible ground of all – the Madejski Stadium is miles out of town and surrounded by motorways with almost no public transport links except on match days.
Campaign for Better Transport recommendations for action
For Clubs: All clubs should have a travel plan that includes plans for new facilities to improve access by walking and cycling and clear information about getting to the ground without a car.
For local authorities: Should actively work to link clubs, the wider community and transport providers together to plan and provide better and cheaper links, including walking and cycling routes.
For transport operators: Better services and more flexibility are key. Operators should talk to fan representatives and help to offer more tailored services that co-ordinate with matches. It’s clear that a national Football Supporters’ Railcard with more flexible conditions for advance fares would be very popular.
For national bodies: The German KombiTicket is a model that the UK would benefit from and a similar system was used during the Olympics. The government and football authorities should take the lead in getting this initiative going for football fans and other events here.
The regular mass mobilisation of fans has a big impact on our transport system
Stephen Joseph, Campaign for Better Transport, said, "In the Premier League alone, more than 650,000 fans travel to matches each week - four times the number that landed on the Normandy beaches on D-Day. With hundreds of thousands of fans travelling to matches in other leagues, this regular mass mobilisation has a big impact on our transport system, and many areas suffer traffic and parking problems on matchdays from an influx of spectators in cars."
"Yet travelling to football matches is precisely the sort of journey that is ideal for public transport. This allows fans to enjoy the game without worrying about congestion and is, of course, much better for the local community and the environment.
With this report and survey, we've shown that there are huge differences between how clubs, towns and cities help make travel better, and revealed some excellent initiatives already in place that more areas could copy. We hope that our recommendations will be taken up and promoted by clubs, local authorities, transport operators and the fans themselves."