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Manchester United are relegation fodder in football transport title race

14 May 2013
Manchester United may have cruised to the Premier League title, but Old Trafford is relegation fodder when it comes to fans’ transport needs according to new research from Campaign for Better Transport.

With fans taking 39 million journeys to support their clubs each season (3), the research includes a league table of the best and worst clubs for providing transport choices for fans (2) based on a fan survey, supporter club views and assessments of travel information and travel planning:

Transport Champions League – top three

1. St James’ Park (Newcastle United) – Transport champions with initiatives including season-long matchday public transport for just £10

2. Emirates Stadium (Arsenal) - Gunners’ fans make full use of good public transport links, with the club having reduced the percentage of fans arriving by car from 30% to 10% on moving to their new stadium

3. Craven Cottage (Fulham) – Improvements mean a high proportion of supporters combine public transport with walking to the ground

Ripe for relegation – bottom three

18. Old Trafford (Manchester United) – A major ground served mainly by low-capacity public transport, travel planning nearly a decade out of date and without safe walking or cycling routes

19. Loftus Road (Queen’s Park Rangers) – Despite London’s extensive public transport, QPR have no coherent travel plan and offer poor information on how to get to Loftus Road

20. Madejski Stadium (Reading) – Comfortably the least accessible ground in this year’s Premier League - out of town and virtually unreachable by regular public transport

Door to Turnstile’ includes the findings of a season-long survey of fans.  Key findings from the fans’ survey are:

Transport cost


  • 23% of fans spend more on travel than they do on a match ticket.  Fans traveling by train spend the most followed by lone drivers (most fans share lifts to games). Fans that get to the game by 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.

Transport mode



  • For home games, 43% of fans drive, with 35% taking the train for at least part of their journey.
  • For away games, 57% take the train for at least some games, 44% drive and 20% travel by coach.

Future improvements



  • 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 ticket prices named by 28% of those who gave a reason.

Sian Berry from Campaign for Better Transport, and co-author of ‘Door to Turnstile’ said


"Our research shows that after match tickets, transport is the biggest cost that fans face. Any club worth its salt should be working hard to lessen that blow. While the likes of Newcastle and Arsenal are doing exactly that, fans of teams including Manchester United are often condemned to a weekly pattern of expensive parking and endless traffic jams."

Malcolm Clarke, Chair, Football Supporters' Federation said

"Fans go to enormous lengths to see their team play home and away. It’s far easier to commit to that level of support if public transport to games is accessible and affordable. The FSF would like to see clubs and transport authorities working together to offer fans genuine travel options.

“Many fans prefer to leave their cars at home and enjoy the day without hassle. Making match day travel more convenient, pleasant and affordable would benefit everyone involved in football, and we hope to see these ideas employed more widely in future.”

Report recommendations


  • National Government: Should take the lead in setting up free public transport with match tickets.  This could be modeled on the popular and well-used ‘KombiTicket’ in Germany (4).
  • 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 (5).
  • Local authorities: Should actively work to link clubs, the wider community and transport providers and promote free or discounted travel for fans, as in Brighton, Newcastle and Sunderland.
  • Transport operators: Should offer tailored matchday services and investigate a national Football Supporters’ Railcard with more flexible conditions.

Sian Berry said


“With two teams in the Champions League Final, German sides have given everyone a football lesson this season. Off the pitch, there’s a lot to learn, too. Including public transport in the price of the match ticket is effective and popular with fans and transport operators alike. There is no reason why fans in this country shouldn’t be similarly well looked after.”



1. ‘Door to Turnstile: Improving travel for football fans’ was researched and will be published by Campaign for Better Transport.

Based on a fan survey, supporter club views and assessments of travel information and travel planning for each club, it examines areas including:


  • How easy top flight grounds are to access
  • Transport choice fans have in how they get to games
  • What steps clubs should take to make transport easier

2. Ranking of accessibility for 2012-13 Premier League grounds based on a fan survey, supporter club views and assessments of travel information and travel planning:


1 Newcastle United

2 Arsenal

3 Fulham

4 Tottenham Hotspur

5 Southampton  

6 West Bromwich Albion

7 Liverpool

8 Aston Villa

8 West Ham United

10 Sunderland

10 Norwich City

12 Chelsea

13 Wigan Athletic

14 Manchester City

15 Swansea City

16 Everton

17 Stoke City

18 Manchester United

19 Queens Park Rangers

20 Reading

3. Fans made in excess of 39 million trips to attend league football matches in England and Wales in the 2011/12 season. This figure is an aggregate of attendances in the top 4 divisions in England and Wales over the season. It does not include attendances at cup matches or at non-league or non-competitive games.

4. The Kombiticket: Match tickets for the German Bundesliga and lower leagues can be used as a ‘KombiTicket’ covering free travel to the match and back on local (and many regional) rail, tram and bus services. This approach was extended to match tickets for the 2006 World Cup, which resulted in 57% of spectators travelling by public transport and just 23% arriving by car.

5. A Travel Plan is a land use planning tool consisting of a package of actions designed to encourage safe, healthy and sustainable travel options. By reducing car travel, Travel Plans aim to improve health, reduce congestion and make a positive contribution to the community and the environment.

6. The Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) is the democratic organisation representing the rights of fans and arguing the views of football supporters in England and Wales.