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Roads to Nowhere

Who are the champions of football travel?

In 2013 we looked at how football fans get to matches and what problems they have getting there without the car.

Door to Turnstile report - click to downloadA survey of more than 1,000 fans and a study of how well (or badly) different grounds are served by public transport helped us put together a league table with some surprising results – the champions on the pitch weren’t necessarily the best at helping fans with more choices in how to get to watch their heroes.

We 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.

Our recommendations show that a lot can be done to make getting from door to turnstile easier.

Key survey findings:

  • 76% of Premier League fans in London use public transport for home games23% 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.
  • 52% would like more choice in how they travel to matchesTrain 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.

League table:

Our top 3 were Newcastle United, Arsenal and Fulham. Newcastle are worthy transport champions with initiatives including season-long matchday public transport for just £10.

League table image - see report for details

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 3 miles out of town with poor public transport links.

Our recommendations for action include:

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.


Stephen Joseph"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."
Stephen Joseph, Campaign for Better Transport

Malcolm Clarke"Fans go to enormous lengths to see their teams play but clubs sometimes forget that matchday doesn’t start when they go through the turnstile. The survey results and ideas for improvements shown in this report come largely from the fans themselves, and show that there is a large appetite for having more options for how to get to games, home and away."
Malcolm Clarke, Chair of the Football Supporters’ Federation


Read our guest blog posts about football travel:

Matt reflects on the ups and downs of the season and the launch of our report

Becky Reynolds writes about cycling initiatives for Brighton and Hove Albion

Matt Hemsley on the cost and limitations of using public transport

Peter Caton writes about the demise of the 'football special' train