How to get hold of those seemingly elusive Premier League tickets....
In response to many requests about getting tickets for English Premier League (EPL) games, I have decided to put this page together, detailing my thoughts on how to get your hands on those elusive tickets.
Okay let’s dispel one myth – MOST games in the EPL are not sell outs, so tickets for most of these games are relatively easy to come by. In fact I would estimate that around of 90% of EPL games have tickets available that can be bought by the general public.
Now unless you are wanting to go to one of the very top games, say a Manchester derby, then unless you have very deep pockets, then the likelihood of getting a ticket is extremely slender. So you have to be realistic and if you are wanting to go to a game, then you need to be prepared to do some research and put in a little ‘leg work’ beforehand.
Buy directly from the Club
Most Clubs put tickets on sale for a particular fixture around a month in advance, whilst others it is just two weeks in advance. So with this in mind, your first task is to keep looking at the relevant Club website for an announcement of when the tickets for a fixture will go on sale.
Once you know this then be prepared to order tickets as quickly as possible once they become available. So if that is 9am on Thursday (or 4am on the East Coast of the US) then that is when you need to be ordering them.
Most clubs now allow you to buy tickets online. So if that is the case then register online beforehand, so if there are any problems then they are identified then rather than on the day of the sale. You can also telephone clubs and buy over the telephone. However for those calling from outside the UK then bear in mind that a number of Clubs use premium rate numbers (typically starting with 0845, 0871 etc...) which are not accessible from outside the UK. Again a little digging around on a Club’s website will reveal the correct number to call from abroad (the UK dialling code is 00 44).
Once tickets are ordered, then normally if purchased online you can print them out on your own printer, or if by telephone you can ask to collect the tickets from the venue on the day of the game.
Some Clubs give preference for purchasing tickets to Club Members. If that is the case, then you may consider taking out a membership, which is normally charged at a fee per season. However depending on the cost of this will influence whether it is a worthwhile investment or not to improve your chances of getting a ticket.
Normally sold separately and entitled Corporate or Hospitality tickets, then Clubs offer these tickets as part of a ‘package’. This normally includes a seat for the game, a pre-match meal and in some cases alcoholic beverages too. Whereas a price of a normal ticket would cost say £50 for a game, these corporate tickets may well set you back nearer £150-£250. Still if these are the only tickets available and you really want to see the game….. However bear in mind though that as they are Corporate Tickets most clubs have a dress code/restrictions for those attending with these tickets, so out goes your football shirt and in comes your smart casual clothing. Also people in these areas famously once labelled the ‘Prawn Sandwich Brigade’ by Roy Keane don’t tend to be as vocal at the game as those in the ‘cheap seats.’
Or Scalpers as they are called in the States, are not often seen at games in the UK and that is due to one very good fact – it is illegal in the UK to resell tickets to matches. However, occasionally it does happen but only really at some of the bigger clubs such as Manchester United or at some the London Clubs. However, I would dread to think how much they would charge and then of course will you then end up with a genuine ticket? Best bet is to stay well clear.
Official Ticket Exchanges
Something that is grown in recent years are Ticket Exchanges, where fans who are season ticket holders can sell their tickets for games where they are ‘unable to attend’. As they are authorised by the Clubs themselves, this gets around the law about reselling tickets. Two Ticket Exchanges that are sanctioned by some of the Clubs are Stubhub and Viagogo.
Again ticket prices and availability fluctuate depending on the popularity of the match. However I have noticed that for some less popular games prices have been reasonable, some even being less than the normal ticket price, so they are worth checking out.
Match Ticket and Hotel Packages
In recent seasons some Premier League Clubs have started offering a match ticket and one nights accommodation, by partnering with a travel Company. Thomas Cook Sport have lead the way with this offering (in most cases) fairly affordable packages for the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City. In addition, they also sometimes have packages available for matches held at Wembley Stadium, such as England Internationals and FA Cup Semi Finals.
Other Ticket Exchanges/Ticket Agencies
In recent seasons there have been a number of ticketing websites that have appeared, allowing fans and others to see their tickets on to others. One of these is Football TicketPad. However, some Clubs such as Arsenal and Tottenham have tried recently to identify and clamp down on tickets that have been sold via agencies. This has meant that some people who have turned up to a game who have bought a ticket via an agent have not been allowed entry. Whilst the Premier League has advised fans to avoid such sellers. Plus there are plenty of bogus agencies out there who will happily take your money with the tickets never materialising. So bear this in mind.
Not really bothered about which game you see?
If you are quite happy to see a match at say Old Trafford, but are not too concerned as to who Man United are playing. Then look at attending one of the less popular fixtures, as tickets for these games are much easier to obtain. Say an early round of one of the domestic cup competitions, or even the early stages of the Champions League (against a not so well known Club) will often not sell out.
Look at sitting with the away fans
People forget that the away club will get an allocation of tickets for each game (normally around 3,000). Now if the away Club is not doing well in the League and/or the game is being televised and then add that it might take place on a mid-week evening and the away club’s fans need to travel a fair distance to get there and back, then again you may find that tickets are available. I remember a few years back at the Emirates Stadium, when Arsenal were playing Bolton Wanderers (who were at the time quite lowly placed in the League) on a Saturday afternoon, that a considerable number of seats were empty in the Bolton section of the stadium, whilst the rest of the stadium was sold out.
If you decide to pursue these tickets, then you need to purchase them from the away club beforehand, either online or by telephone. Sometimes they are available on the day of the match at the football ground that the game is being played out, but this is uncommon in the Premier League. If this does happen, then again monitor the away Club’s website as they will normally inform their supporters that tickets are still available and that they can ‘pay on the day.’
International Supporters Clubs
Most EPL Clubs have supporters clubs around the World. These often can apply for an allocation of tickets for a particular game. These Clubs normally (but not always) get preferential treatment for tickets. So if you follow a particular team and you live outside of the UK, then you may wish to research whether there is a supporters club for that particular team in your country and may be joining that Supporters Club will secure tickets in the future.
Although a game may be labelled as 'Sold Out' it is sometimes still worth contacting the Club in the run up to the game, as tickets can often become available. For example if corporate tickets have remained unsold then the Club may then sell these as normal tickets. Or if the away club returns tickets then these again may be put on sale. So it is always worth a try.
The ‘old fashioned’ way…
You can always try the old fashioned way of ‘asking around’ to see if someone has a spare ticket. With the era of the internet there are many Fan’s Message Boards and Social Media channels for a particular Club on which you could try enquiring for a spare ticket. I know someone who used Twitter to do this, making it clear that they were travelling over from Canada for the game and they received a positive response.
If you are still desperate and none of the above has worked, then on the day of the game you could make your way to the outside of stadium and ask every fan you see whether they have a spare ticket! You could be lucky, there is always some friend or family member who can't make the game at short notice, but for the real big matches your chances of success are slim. So personally I wouldn’t consider travelling to a game unless I already had a ticket for it.