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UK sports fans spent over £20 billion last year

Press release   •   Jun 15, 2016 12:00 BST

  • Football fans spend the most on their hobby – an average of £276 per supporter over the past 12 months, with the biggest spenders forking out up to £5,000
  • Tickets, food and drink, satellite TV packages and travel are most popular pulls on sports fans’ purse strings

Being a sports fan cost UK adults over £20 billion in the last year, according to new research from Post Office Money Credit Cards.

With Euro 2016 kicking off a summer of sport, we are set to become a nation obsessed – with over half of all UK adults classing themselves as sports fans (58 per cent) and almost as many regularly forking out to pursue their hobby (50 per cent).

Football, the UK’s most popular sport in the UK, is the most costly to follow. The average footie fan spent £276 in the last 12 months. However, the biggest spenders (the top one per cent) spent up to £5,000 on their love of the beautiful game. £5 billion was spent by the nation’s fans in total over the last year.

Other expensive pastimes include horse racing and cycling which are enjoyed by a third of the UK’s adults (32 per cent).

SportAmount spent per fan in the last yearAmount spent by fans across the UK in the last year
Football£276£5 billion
Horse Racing£240£2.5 billion
Cycling£192£2 billion
Golf£129£1.3 billion
Cricket£123£1.5 billion
Rugby£122£1.7 billion
Tennis£115£1.7 billion
Other£199£2.4 billion

Buying tickets was the most common form of expenditure in the last 12 months, with a quarter paying for entry (28 per cent) and travel to the event (23 per cent). Some fans are even willing to pay extra for overnight accommodation (12 per cent).One in five (20 per cent) have travelled abroad to watch a sporting event.

Other sports followers spent their money ensuring they can enjoy their passion in the comfort of their own home on satellite TV packages (23 per cent), video games (10 per cent) and some even invested in new TV and entertainment systems (eight per cent). One in 10 fans (12 per cent) also purchased a kit or strip to show pride in their favourite team.

While most people (68 per cent) use their current account to cover their costs, many turn to alternatives to fund their passion. Over a quarter (27 per cent) used their credit card to fund their love of sports in the last year. Almost two fifths (18 per cent) say they have dipped into their savings, while seven per cent have borrowed money from friends or family, and six per cent have taken out a pay day loan to fund their love of sport.

John Willcock, Head of Credit Cards at Post Office Money, said: “With a summer of sport lined up, fans in the UK have a lot to look forward to. People should however be aware that the cost of a passion for sport can creep up unexpectedly. Most pay to watch sport, either at home or abroad, directly from their current account or with their credit card, though it is worrying that a small minority of people seem to be turning to pay day lenders.

“Clearly, we are a nation of sports lovers, but it is important that, whichever sport we follow, we only spend what we can afford, and there is a concern that some people might feel pressured to keep up with their friends. But whether it’s a trip to France or Brazil for the Euros or Olympics, or just following your local team, it’s worth doing a bit of planning and budgeting.”

As well as being expensive, we also spend a significant amount of time following it. Football fans spend an average of 6.7 hours ‘being a fan’ each week, quickly followed by cricket fans, at six hours per week. And it isn’t only our spare time that is taken up, with 12 per cent of sports fans admitting to secretly watching their team play while at work. A similar minority (12 per cent) have also got into conflict with their friends over their favoured sport.

A small proportion of fans have shown commitment to their fandom by sacrificing clothes (nine per cent), meals (seven per cent) or holidays (six per cent) to pay for their passion. A devoted three per cent even admit they have missed the birth of an immediate family member because of a sporting event.

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Notes to Editors:

Opinium Research conducted a survey amongst a nationally representative sample of 2,001 UK adults between 20 to 24 May 2016.

Where spending in the last year is referred this relates to the period from May 2015 to May 2016.