Football is only getting bigger. Shinier lights, smoother pitches, and a lot more money. With prices getting higher and higher, even at non-league level, a cheap day out with a pint and a programme is almost impossible to come by, or is it?

With season ticket prices for the 2024/25 season on their way out, we took a look at 20 Step 3 non-league clubs and compared their season ticket prices to see just how expensive, or cheap, the game is at this level for fans.

How did we collect our teams?

In order to get 20 teams, we took five random teams who had announced their season ticket prices in the four leagues of Step 3.

These leagues are the Southern Premier League south, mainly consisting of teams in the southwest, the Isthmian Premier League, which has teams in the southeast, the Southern Central Premier League, which has teams from above London up to Derby, and the Northern Premier League which has teams competing from the North of the country.

Although these leagues don’t split up the country perfectly, they do it well enough to help cast an idea as to which regions are more or less expensive than others.

We then took the prices for all these clubs as if you were an adult buying a season ticket right now and ranked them from cheapest to most expensive. This means this ranking includes early bird season ticket offers which go on until the end of May.

The Outliers:

The major thing that jumps out is the two massive outliers. Macclesfield FC, which is owned by former premier league player Robbie Savage is charging a whopping £299 for a season ticket, which is £200 more than Winchester City is offering with their early bird offer, who sit at cheapest in our rankings.

That pricing gets even worse when you compare it to other teams further up the pyramid. Ipswich Town, who just got promoted to the Premier League, are charging £380 for fans to renew their season tickets. With Macclesfield 6 leagues below Ipswich, it means that Ipswich are only charging £13.50 more per level of the pyramid.

Winchester City’s pricing on the other hand is extremely affordable, being the only club to have an offer for fans to pay under £100 to enjoy a matchday at their stadium.

The Differences in Leagues:

Before looking at this list, we made a hypothesis that the further north a league, the less expensive tickets would be, and were they?

Yes, they were! Well, kind of…

Including the two large outliers of Macclesfield FC (who are a Northern Premier League club) and Winchester City (a Southern Premier South club) included, the average price for a Step 3 ticket per league was as follows:

  1. Northern Premier League – £191.80 average per adult season ticket
  2. Isthmian Premier League – £180.24 average per adult season ticket
  3. Southern Premier League South – £174.40 average per adult season ticket
  4. Southern Premier League Central – £170.60 average per adult season ticket

However, we get a better view of things once the two key outliers are removed, and then the list begins to take a more expected shape:

  1. Southern Premier League South – £193.25 average per adult season ticket
  2. Isthmian Premier League – £180.20 average per adult season ticket
  3. Southern Premier League Central – £170.60 average per adult season ticket
  4. Northern Premier League – £165 average per adult season ticket

The major swing in pricing once the outliers are removed begins to tell a more expected tale. The further south you go, the more expensive a game is mot likely going to cost, and the further north you go the less expensive it will be. Not only does this show how bad a deal fans of Macclesfield FC are getting, but it also shows even more how good a deal Winchester City fans are getting at the far south of the country.

Overall averages and price:

The last place to look is, once all these averages are combined, what is the standard cost for a non-league football game within the UK?

With the outliers included, the average price of an adult season ticket in step 3 of non-league football is £179.25. Additionally, for a concession ticket, which includes over 60’s and often students, the average price is £124.

Even with the outliers dropped, and the range dropping from £99-£299 to £123-£238 the average still comes out to around the same price. It falls to £177.26 for an adult ticket and £120.83 for concession tickets.

How does this compare to the Football League?

At £380, Ipswich Town season ticket prices are far from the cheapest in the English Football League (EFL). Although no season ticket price in the football league is lower than the non-league average, a couple aren’t too far off. Fleetwood, Bromley, and Morecambe all have season ticket prices of less than £200, according to the Lower Tiers, making them all cheaper than six of the Step 3 clubs.

Ten more clubs also have season ticket prices at les than £300, including championship sides Preston North End and QPR. These three clubs, all just one league below the Premier League have cheaper season tickets available to fans than non-league division seven side Macclesfield FC.

Altogether, 28 clubs from the EFL, have season ticket prices lower than £350, equating to 30% of all clubs in the Premier League, Championship, League 1 and League 2, as well as 15% of all clubs in the EFL being under £300.

So, what does all this mean?

After crunching the data and numbers, we come back to one question it still possible to afford to have a decent season out supporting your local football club?

And the answer is, quite simply, in step 3, it definitely is worth it, but it heavily depends on the club.

With 15% of clubs in the EFL having cheaper ticket prices than some non-league clubs, it will not always make sense to support your non-league club in Step 3 of the English footballing pyramid.

But not all hope is lost.

With an average price of £177-179, on top of it being even cheaper at most grounds for students, under 18’s and people over the age of 65, most non-league clubs at the Step 3 level will be a good chunk cheaper than their EFL counterparts.

And additionally, so many clubs such as Beckenham Town and AFC Rushden and Diamonds are getting relegation reprieves due to voluntary relegations by other clubs showing that non-league clubs are hanging on by a thread to financial stability and often need your money much more than bigger EFL teams.

Yet, if you are willing to spend some money on a non-league season ticket, it’s best to follow a few rules.

  1. Look for outliers in your region such as Winchester City
  2. Go North
  3. Don’t go to Macclesfield FC

How do the prices in your region compare to what we found?

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