Industry News

Calls for flexible train tickets to help football fans

UK football fans should be able to change train tickets free of charge to avoid penalties when matches are rescheduled, according to the Labour Party.

On the day that the new English Premier League season starts, Labour called for the introduction of a flexible ‘fan-fare’ advance train ticket, which can be transferred without a fee or mark-up when matches are switched for television.

On UK railways, passengers can book cheap tickets three months in advance, but the Premier League is only required to give six weeks’ notice when rearranging matches to fill TV slots.

The Premier League season starts with this evening’s 7.45pm kick-off between Arsenal and Leicester City, with away fans having to travel almost 100 miles home after the game finishes at around 9.30pm. Only half this weekend’s games will take place on Saturday at 3pm, with lunchtime and evening fixtures on Saturday and two Sunday afternoon matches.

Tom Watson, Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Labour’s Deputy Leader, said: “There’s no doubt that despite the huge commercial benefits that broadcast revenues have brought clubs, there are knock on effects to travelling fans.

“It’s about time the Premier League, broadcasters and rail companies put fans’ interests over commercial interests. When matches are switched for TV its fans that pay the price – forking out for extra train tickets that often cost more than their match tickets.”

Analysis by Chelsea and Tottenham Supporters trusts shows that in the 2016-17 season, out of 165 rearranged fixtures, 39 did not have an available return train following the final whistle.

Watson said: “We need more flexible ticketing and common-sense scheduling of fixtures to ensure that fans can get to and from games safely without breaking the bank.”

IMAGE: Elliott Brown