Just How Difficult is it to Buy Premier League Tickets?

Four disappointed Manchester United football supporters sitting outside Wembley Stadium, London, unable to buy tickets for the European Cup Final against Benfica.    (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

I’m chucking work and heading to the UK in October. I’m putting my money where my loud mouth is. Months and years are creeping by far too fast. My twenties are oh so close to a fleeting memory in my mind while I continue to count the long gray hairs that emerge from my dark brown mess.

The days of coffee pots and early Saturday mornings spent by myself and my DVR remote as my only companion begin to bore me. I want the smell of grass and the loud roar of those crowd songs I can barely decipher from my couch. I want the excitement of the unknown. I want the fear of the overly committed. Now is the time to see football. Now is the time to experience something different. I love my country, but it’s time for a break. It might be a short one, but it’ll be worth it.

Worth it as long as I can get my hands on some bloody Premier League tickets.

London, Manchester and anywhere I land in between is my destination. The Pubs of England, the Curry houses, Carling in a can, rain-soaked Saturdays with the welcomed sensation of no cell phone service – all ‘to do’ boxes eventually to be checked. But it’s the match day thrill I first need. Premier League football beckons, it calls my name like a sweet chorus written just for me.

But just how easily acquired are these precious golden tickets to real live-action football? I can navigate a DirecTV system with the best of them, but navigating the uncharted waters of Premier League ticketing, that could prove a challenge far too daunting.

I’ve already got a few ‘connections’ on the ground in England. Under the cover of their hidden identities, they scout and peruse the wilderness of the Premier League attempting to secure any sniff of a viable pair of tickets. Old Trafford, Craven Cottage, Wembley, Goodison Park or wherever a train, car, tube or boat will carry me, these are the destinations I seek.

I refuse to be like one of those lads pictured above. Four fools missing out on their beloved Manchester United because of a lack of planning. Not me, I won’t make this trek unless I can do it the right way. Once in a lifetime? Well, maybe not, but there’s a first time for everything, and this first time has been a long time coming.

Now is the time to help me out readers. I want to hear it all. I know a lot of you have been over to the UK to experience a match with your favorite club while some of you who live in England have already been helping. Leave your tips and suggestions below. This trip is on my own dime, no groups, no fan packages, no itinerary laid out before me. Just me and my lady friend and a million experiences to meet on the way.

For those interested in helping or for those with Premier League connections, contact me on twitter @JesseChula and we can exchange emails.

47 thoughts on “Just How Difficult is it to Buy Premier League Tickets?”

  1. Shouldn’t be too hard, my mate I used to live with who was a season ticket holder at Man Utd said Old Trafford rarely sells out any more.

    I’m have the same troubles though as I want to go to Italy this season to see a game, but I’m really struggling to find places to get tickets. It is easy when you’re in your own country but difficult outside of it unless you want to get ripped off with a travel package.

    Always welcome to come to see the Toon play though Jesse, experience anger like you’ve never experienced it before 😛

    1. Rob,

      If an opportunity presents itself for me to visit Newcastle, trust me, I’m there. First pint is on you tho.

    2. Rob,

      It is my understanding that Italian matches are not very heavily attended anymore, including at the big clubs, and particularly at Juventus. You’ll probably be able to get tickets on match day.

      1. The stadiums are bigger than the amount of fans because of Italia 90, but me and my mate really want to go to Roma V Lazio or Genoa V Sampdoria and these are pretty much sell outs all the time. I wouldn’t want to risk going to Juventus, they’re not to keen on the English 😛

      2. Italian matches are very easy to obtain tickets for….

        I have got to several Juve matches by just showing up and buying tickets….

        Same with Inter / AC / Roma and Lazio … all I have purchased the day of and attended the matches…

        1. Jut make sure it’s not any kind of a match between hated rivals or a team with hooligan issues. I tried to see a Juventus match against Napoli a few years ago and they would only sell tickets to people with ID showing that they lived in Turin. There were some other people from the US that I ran into who also couldn’t buy tickets for the same reason. I saw some crazy Italian arguments with ticket vendors over what I assumed was people who lived outside of Turin but wanted to buy tickets and were denied.

  2. Go see a game at Wigan – one of the few PL grounds where you can usually show up on the day and buy a ticket. Stadium is nice as well and there are several excellent pubs in town.

      1. So what? If you want to see a bunch of games in the UK it’s a good option – and my ticket was only something like £15 when I went to a game there.

  3. Well it’s wasn’t EPL it was SPL and I waited until the day the tickets were released, sat in front of my laptop at 4 in the morning and bought the tickets online.
    Front row btw…or sign up for EPL ticket update…let’s you know who has tickets.

    1. I have been seriously looking at United tickets, but the airplane tickets kill any chance of me going. It is between 700-900 dollars to fly across the enormous pond. That is a year’s worth of Cable TV including FSC and GolTV…

  4. it’s easy to get tickets to most games – you’ll only struggle for the big derbies or top 4 head-to-heads. You’ll also get cell phone service everywhere you go, this is England not Albania.

    1. David,

      What I meant by the cell phone service comment was that I’ll be switching my iPhone to airplane mode. Thus it won’t have a signal.

      No desire to pay AT&T’s international roaming rates. I’ll likely use Skype to stay in contact w/friends and family.

    2. Re: Cell Phone service – I thought that was a strange comment too! I moved to the US from England 4 years ago, and it’s only since being in the US that I’ve ever experienced a lack of cell-phone coverage. And I’m in NYC!

  5. It ain’t easy if you want to watch one of the big clubs. Some of them have membership levels and if there are tickets left after the members get em, the public get dibs (rarely). I’d recommend a Carling Cup game, generally those sell for a little bit cheaper and since many clubs field a “weakened” team it’s not that big of a draw.

  6. You should just be able to go tho the particular club’s website and book with a credit card. There are not that many games that sell out and you should be be to book them and just pick them up at the ticket office.
    That’s what I always did, I live in England but I don’t think it will make any difference as you would be picking up the tickets from the ground on the day of the game.

  7. Thats great…I guess I am used to NFL and college football where (at least for the teams I follow) its very difficult to get tickets directly from the team.

  8. I just spent 2 weeks dealing with this myself as I’m heading to England in October. There are various online websites from which games to the lower tier EPL matches are reasonably priced. For the big clubs and esp. matches between top 4 clubs, forget about it. There are complicated membership requirements and purchasing scenarious, e.g. you can only buy one ticket at a time after other levels have had their crack, and have to wait a week to buy a second ticket (useless if you want 2 side by side).

    The only way to get tics to the big matches, is to pay the big bucks. Through Thomascooke you can buy “match day” packages, by which they will sell you tics but you’re also forced to get at least one night hotel. I ultimately decided this was the way to go since I wanted a big match. Chelsea v. Arsenal, 2 tics and one night hotel for $730 USD.

      1. Woops – what I meant was 3/5. Though it may be ever higher than that.

        I think the lowest season ticket package is just over $1000. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    1. I would recommend going through the official Chelsea supporters group in the United States where you would have been able to get tickets at cover price rather than paying more.

      The Gaffer

      1. A tiny bit of info; the EPL sees America as a market with huge growth potential.
        I have had vey few problems getting tickets for any Chelsea match in the past 4 years, EPL or Champions League.

        Before I leave NYC, I call Stamford Bridge directly, I put on my super best ‘Mer-kin’ accent. And make a request. The latest I left it once was a week before a CL match against Barca. They are not stupid, their marketing department knows that the club will get more ‘value’ from a visitor from the US(NYC)… we are a good ‘futures’ risk.
        My 2nd option is that I like to stay at the Conrad Hilton Hotel in Chelsea harbour. Great concierge. Sorted us with tkts in Shed end.

        Also do yourself a favour just once, save up and do the team hospitality package, you only have to do it once, for the experience.


  9. can someone help me understand why tickets are relatively easy to come by, and yet the UK is supposed to live & die through its football? i can’t travel anytime soon, but on a lark i went on the newcastle site to see how one goes about purchasing tickets. i was amazed to find that i could get fantastic tickets simply by having done little more than registering for free online. granted, the tickets were only available for matches less than 2 weeks away, but still i was amazed by the # of seats available. i don’t mean to sound like the naive american that i am, but in contrast you’d be hard pressed to find any available tickets for a philadelphia eagles game (through normal channels — not stubhub, etc). i guess i’d assumed that EPL matches were a similar experience…

    1. Jack, St. James’ Park has a capacity of 52,000 which is large by most Premier League club standards. And NFL teams play far fewer home games per season than Newcastle (or other Premier League clubs) do. Plus, the UK is a much smaller country with a population of ~60million people.

      If you try getting tickets to any of the top clubs in England, it’s a much more difficult process than getting a ticket to a home game for Newcastle. Most clubs don’t make it easy, or as easy as it should be.

      The Gaffer

      1. Exactly – America has 300m people and only, what, 32 NFL teams playing at most 20 games per season? By contrast, England has 50m people and 92 professional football teams, playing 40+ times per season. Less people, more teams & more games: more tickets to share around.

        1. thanks guys — makes sense. i was focusing a little too much on the fervor and not on the math! anyway, it’s a pleasant surprise for me because it leaves the option open to travel for some matches in the future, something that i’d assumed was nearly impossible before i looked into it.

    2. No problem getting Toon tickets this year mate, I think the big clubs and the match against Sunderland will be sell outs but we had 9,000 spare seats against Villa! Unless we go on an unlikely title run to bring in the bandwagonners I can’t see it filling up all the time :)

  10. If you plan far enough ahead it shouldn’t be too difficult I’m going to Craven Cottage on Sept 25th for Everton vs Fulham and bought two tickets online from Fulham.

    1. Fulham is fantastic. I took my boys to Craven Cottage over Christmas break and bought an international membership before I went over. The folks in the membership office were extraordinarily helpful.

  11. I went to Old Trafford for a MU/Everton match in Jan 09. It was a last minute trip and I was able to get tickets pretty easily, although I’m a member of their fan club so that may have made it easier.

  12. “No desire to pay AT&T’s international roaming rates. I’ll likely use Skype to stay in contact w/friends and family.”

    AT&T has an international plan that you can sign up for and use for only a brief time, and then cancel it. It helps with the ridiculous data roaming charges.

    At least, it was a good option for a trip to Canada. YMMV.

  13. Never been to actual Premier League match. Did go to Stamford Bridge to see Chelsea play St. Gallen in the UEFA Cup in 2000. Took the tube down before the match and bought a ticket at the gate.

    Championship matches were the same way. I went to Carrow Road every Saturday and bought tickets at the gate. I was told that had Ipswich Town been the opponent I would not have been able to walk up (Ipswich was in the EPL that season).

  14. If you’re coming over in October make sure it’s not on the weekend of the 9th as there are apparently no PL games that weekend.

    The weekend after you could easily get tickets for Newcastle/Wigan on the Saturday, possibly Blackpool/Man City on the Sunday and easily Blackburn/Sunderland on the Monday night. Distances aren’t a problem in England and all that would be pretty easy to do.

    Tickets are usually freely available from the official club websites although you might have to jump through a few hoops to get them. Just choose the games you want in advance then keep your eye on the websites to see when the tickets go on general sale.

    Incidentally, you can’t buy tickets on the day at Wigan unless you’ve previously purchased. It may seem daft when there are thousands of empty seats but it’s a hangover from the days of hooliganism and segragation.

    If you want a ‘real’ English football experience, try to get a ticket as an away fan and go in the away end. Villa are at Sunderland on the 23rd and probably won’t sell out as it’s a big away end and Fulham are at WBA and they certainly won’t sell out their allocation. Fulham at West Brom would be a good introduction to a PL away trip.

  15. I’ve been wondering about this topic myself. I have researched the XL soccer tours they advertise on FSC. Seems like a well organized trip. Just wondering if anyone has gone through a tour group like XL and what your opinions on it were?

  16. I know it’s not the same as trying to get a ticket to an EPL match, but I just got back from Germany and I was able to see three matches in four days while was over there with three different ticket buying experiences.

    Keep in mind I speak no German whatsoever. The first was a Europa League match between Stuttgart and Slovena Bratislava. I was able to just walk up and buy a ticket for 31 euros at the window.

    The next night I drove to Kaiserslautern to see FC Kaiserslautern v. Bayern Munich. I had no ticket going in and I knew it was going to be tough, but I went anyway. After a fifteen minute bus ride from the parking lot to the stadium (which I had no idea was part of it) I was going to be stuck outside the stadium for 2 hours if I didn’t find a ticket. I was able to find a scalper that spoke english, but he wanted 100 euros for the ticket. I said no thanks. I couldn’t get any other scalpers to talk to me. One walked away from me when I spoke to him in english. Later as game time approached, The english speaking scalper finally sold me the 22,50 euro ticket for 60 euros. Kind of pricey, but it was a once in lifetime deal. The atmosphere was awesome. Especially the Kaiserslautern fans singing “Scheisse Bayern Munchen” to the tune of Guantanamera. That was Hilarious.

    Then on sunday, a relative that lives in Germany was able to get us 2 tickets to the Stuttgart/Borussia Dortmund match through a friend of his that was a season ticket holder.

    So there are many ways to procure a ticket. Leave no stone unturned.

  17. I have some contacts that work at Aston Villa, i might be able to sort something out for the Chelsea game on the 16th October or Birmingham on the 31st?? E-mail me if you’re interested!!

    1. Luke,

      I am planning a trip for October and would be more than interested in tickets to either one of these matches & would be willing to compensate you monetarily for your time/effort. Please email me: acraft23@yahoo.com if you are interested in discussing this further.

  18. Hey, I’m welsh, and live through Football, its a big thing, you have spare time, you could go into the division lower, The championship, quality football, and the crowds can be better than most premier league games, attendances are lower, granted, due to smaller stadiums, and less demand. However this makes tickets cheap.. £10-£15..
    So as i was saying if you have the spare time, pop over the severn bridge and watch Cardiff City Fc play, cracking crowd and atmosphere and are a top club in the championship pushing for promotion into the epl!
    Cheers, Gareth.

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