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Premier League: how English football’s top flight favours fans of London clubs

Dr Anastasios (Tasos) Theofilou, Bournemouth University and Evangelos Kontopantelis, University of Manchester

The English Premier League (EPL) is the most successful football league in the world and one of the most successful sports businesses of any kind. But the benefits may be relatively skewed towards people who live in London. Not only has the UK capital had more clubs per fan in the EPL than any other region since the league was created in the 1992/93 season, but their fans have to pay less to travel to see their clubs play away matches.

Over the 26 years the league has been in operation, the number of EPL clubs based in London has remained relatively stable at approximately six. Meanwhile, the number of clubs from different regions has fluctuated. The largest reduction was observed in the north of England where the number of EPL clubs fell from ten out of 20 in 1995/96 (when the EPL was reduced from 22 to 20) to seven out of 20 in 2018/19. There was large variation in participation from teams in the Midlands or the east of England and a small increase in the number of clubs from the south and Wales, with the participation of Brighton & Hove Albion FC, AFC Bournemouth and Cardiff City in 2018/19.


If you dig deeper, you can see that the northwest and, especially, Yorkshire & Humber are the biggest losers over time (Figure 2) – although Leeds United and Sheffield United are currently sitting pretty on the Championship (the second tier of English football) table and may well join the EPL in 2019/20. This implies that there may be stronger regional representation, with Huddersfield (Yorkshire) and Fulham (London) looking destined for relegation to the Championship.

If you adjust this calculation for population size (assuming one club per approximately 2.5m people – distributing fairly 20 clubs across around 51m people), the north of England and London were – and still are – the only two regions punching above their weight. But you can also see a change over time as London has surpassed the north in terms of “over-representation” of clubs from the region. The north’s losses have benefited the south and Wales. Once again, drilling down into lower level regions, it becomes clear that the north-west is the only region comparable to London (Figure 3).

For example, in the 2018/19 EPL season, there were six clubs from London (“observed”) and based on a population around 8,200,000 people from the 2011 Census we would expect around three clubs (“expected”). Meanwhile the north-west of England has a population of around 7.5m so, again, you would expect around three clubs – but there are five in the EPL.

Strain of the train

We decided to work out how much things were skewed in favour of London-based clubs and their fans. We calculated how much it costs for fans to follow their clubs on all away EPL fixtures, picking an arbitrary date: Saturday November 3, 2018. We used the most common kick-off time of 3pm and obtained rail and car travel estimates from Google maps and the national rail enquiries website. Unsurprisingly, following Newcastle United, in the northeast, was the most expensive choice – each committed Geordie had to spend around £2,500 on rail fares to attend all of the club’s away matches.

Bournemouth, on the south coast of England, Cardiff City in Wales and Huddersfield Town in Yorkshire were next in line – their fans had to spend more than £1,700. At the other end of the scale, fans of London clubs such as Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal faced an average cost of around £1,000. Fans of Liverpool and Manchester clubs had to spend around £1,400 and £1,200, respectively.

In total, rail fares for Newcastle United fans to attend all 19 away matches were in excess of £6.5m (accounting for away fan capacity and assuming sellout crowds). This is a clear outlier, reflecting Newcastle’s remoteness in relation to other clubs – although rail travel time for Novocastrians was better than expected. This at least reflects good services and connections – better than for Bournemouth, Cardiff and Burnley, for example, considering the distances.

Rail costs per mile further demonstrate a variation – Leicester fans, in particular, have the right to feel particularly aggrieved, with cost per mile travelled to or from London being 0.58p and to or from everywhere else 0.52p (averages for all other cities/towns, excluding London, were 0.43p and 0.47p, respectively).

Interesting point: for Bournemouth and Southampton fans, a return train ticket to London is slightly more expensive than for London-based fans travelling in the opposite direction.

In reality, all these costs are underestimates, since televised matches are played at times that make the lives of travelling fans very difficult – it may be impossible to get a direct train and an overnight stay may be essential, further adding to the costs. And these additional costs are likely to be higher for non-London supporters, since services outside London tend to be less frequent, while overnight stays in London are more expensive.

Level playing field

It becomes evident that football fans have to bear a disproportional cost in time and money, supporting an industry that makes massive profits. So, what can be done? Travelling fans are effectively sports “visitors” and should be treated with reciprocal respect, with more consideration given to televised matches and the distances fans have to travel.

The EPL could also acknowledge the travelling costs for away fans and offer financial support to clubs in a similar way to how broadcast and central income is distributed. This would allow each club to consider a ticket pricing strategy for its own fans or support travelling arrangements. Perhaps clubs could consider selling a bundle product which would include both match and rail ticket. Alternatively (or in addition), the government or football institutions could negotiate fairer “fixed” rail prices.

But it’s not all down to geography, as infrastructure also plays its part. London is at the centre of the biggest sports investments which have made the capital the natural host for national football events. It seems unfair that EFL (or Carabao) Cup finals and FA Cup semi-finals and finals are hosted in London.

Wembley, the “headquarters” of English football, has historically been an integral part of the game in England and is recognised as a global football trademark. But always having cup finals there increases the time and expense for supporters of non-London clubs that are successful in these competitions. Perhaps the region of the finalists should be considered before a venue was decided.

This imbalance is a problem for the EPL as it may have implications for its attractiveness and for generating revenue overall. And, as the so-called “people’s sport”, it’s surely a problem that this emphasis in favour of London and London-based clubs makes life harder for fans with less money to travel to see their clubs play.

Football is one of the most loved sports in the UK and the world, bringing together families and friends over a number of generations. It’s a societal link of togetherness. It shouldn’t give an unfair advantage to London or lead loyal supporters to poverty.The Conversation

Dr Anastasios (Tasos) Theofilou, Principal Academic, Bournemouth University and Evangelos Kontopantelis, Professor in Data Science and Health Services Research, University of Manchester

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

New article by Angela Smith, Derek Robbins & Janet E. Dickinson 2019,Defining sustainable transport in rural tourism: experiences from the New Forest

New article by Angela Smith, Derek Robbins & Janet E. Dickinson 2019,
Defining sustainable transport in rural tourism: experiences from the New Forest
Journal of Sustainable Tourism, Volume 27(2), Pages: 258-275 |

Transport policy agendas have long sought to bring about more sustainable transport at tourism destinations. Whilst there are examples of successes, it remains unclear what inroads have been made towards creating a sustainable transport future. Policy directions have evolved over a number of years and in many tourism destination contexts, it is far from clear what a desirable transport future looks like. When translated to implementation, the aims of initiatives can be unclear and baseline measures inconsistent, making success difficult to judge. This paper analyses how sustainable travel has been implemented in practice at a destination level. The focus is rural tourism and data are derived from a specific case, the New Forest National Park, UK, where a wide range of transport initiatives have been implemented since the Park’s designation in 2005. The study adopts a social practice theory perspective. Data are derived from a visitor survey, interviews and observations. It finds there is scope to improve sustainable transport provision at destinations through understanding visitor practices, but limited scope to influence meanings associated with visitor travel and travel skills. Policy meets the needs of some visitors more than others.

Author information

Angela Smith is a PhD student with a background in transport planning. Her research uses the experiences in the New Forest National Park to analyse transport practices and relative sustainability.

Derek Robbins is a senior lecturer at Bournemouth University. Trained as a transport planner his research interests include the relationship between transport and tourism, tourism and climate change, sustainable transport policy and the cruise industry.

Janet Dickinson is a professor at Bournemouth University. Her research interests focus on tourism and climate change, the sharing economy, social representations and time.


New Forest National Park Authority.


Candida Yates has been appointed a Founding Scholar of the British Psychoanalytic Council. This is in recognition of her significant contribution to academic research in the area and beyond. The BPC is the professional registration body for the UK’s leading psychoanalytical practitioners. Up until recently, affiliations were open solely to qualified clinicians trained in the practice of psychoanalysis, psychoanalytical psychotherapy, and psychodynamic psychotherapy.

This newly created category expands the BPC’s purview by recognising the enormous contribution that academics and scholars have made to the study of psychoanalysis through research and publication. Being a Founding Scholar can open up further opportunities for debate, collaboration and knowledge exchange between the BPC, academia and beyond. The launch event was held at the Freud Museum in London on 21st February 2019.

As a Founding Scholar, Candida has now been invited to join the new organising committee for BPC Scholars to shape this new and exciting association going forward. She has also been invited to join the Editorial board of their members magazine ‘New Associations’:

1000th Google Scholar citations

Congratulations to Dr. Miguel Moital from the Department of Events & Leisure for his 1000th citation on google scholar.

Many of these citations are for papers co-authored with undergraduate and masters students.

The h index is 13 (it means that 13 papers have at least 13 citations), and the h10 index is 18 (it means that 18 papers have at least 10 citations).

Narrative Research Group Seminar on Transmedia Historiography as Educational Practice 13 March

The next NRG seminar will take place at 5pm on Wednesday 13th March in F108, where Dr Matthew Freeman (Bath Spa) will be speaking on ‘Transmedia Historiography as Educational Practice: Narrativising Colombian Cultural Memory Across Media’. Abstract and biography are attached below. All welcome. To find out more about NRG please visit


Dr Matthew Freeman is Reader in Multiplatform Media at Bath Spa University. He is Deputy Director of the University-wide Centre for Cultural and Creative Industries, Co-Director of the Centre for Media Research, and leads the University’s Communication, Cultural and Media Studies submission to REF2021. His research examines cultures of production across the borders of media and history, and he is the author/editor of seven books: The World of The Walking Dead (2019), Transmedia Archaeology in Latin America(2018), The Routledge Companion to Transmedia Storytelling(2018), Global Convergence Cultures(2018) Historicising Transmedia Storytelling (2016),Industrial Approaches to Media (2016), and Transmedia Archaeology (2014). He has also published over 30 journal articles and book chapters, is Series Editor for the Routledge Advances in Transmedia Studies book series, and sits on the editorial board of the journal Convergence. He is the co-founder and co-editor of the International Journal of Creative Media Research, a new journal which aims to push forward the potentials for publishing creative and practice-based research.


People now engage with media content across multiple platforms, following stories, characters, worlds, brands and other information across a spectrum of media channels.Yet both the biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity for understanding transmediality – itself the use of multiple media technologies to tell stories and communicate information – is the sheer breadth of its interpretation. Though primarily still seen as a commercial practice, this talk explores the application of transmedia practices to the communication of history across multiple media platforms, questioning what this approach means to our understandings of transmediality. More specifically, the talk furthers discussions of the contribution that transmedia storytellingcan make to educational practices, identifying new strategies for how transmediastorytelling is now being used to capture and narrativize historical memories, as media-based educational resources. To do so, the talk focuses on the Colombian armed conflict and the Desarmados project, for which I served as a member of the project team, and for which in this context to theorise how transmediality can work as socially progressive and emotionally supportive form of historiography. Desarmados is an internationally-funded research project which aims to harness commercial ideas about digital platforms and transmedia storytelling as tools for documenting the Colombian citizens of Medellín and for narrativizing their memories of the Colombian armed conflict as an educational resource. A transmedia project supported by the Colombian Ministry of Culture and the Colombia Government, Desarmados seeks to reconstruct the cultural memory of the Colombian armed conflict, and develop workshops with secondary schools in Medellin to help test out new transmedia materials as modes of social enterprise between survivors and civil society.

As such, this talk will interrogate not the history of transmedia storytelling, but rather how the working practices of transmedia storytelling can deal with history, creatively and socially. Desarmados, I argue, exemplifies not only a new way of experiencing and remembering Colombian history, but as that which reshapes said Colombian history for the better.

Dr. Aryal funded to attend international workshop on migration & health

Congratulations to Dr. Nirmal Aryal in the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences has been selected to participate in an international workshop targeting early career researchers (ECRs) on ‘Engendering research and reframing policy debate on migration & health and intersectional rights’ to be held in Kathmandu (Nepal) from 25th to 28th April 2019.

This workshop is jointly organized by several universities in the UK, India as well as the International Organisation for Migration, as well as the Migration Health and Development Research Initiative(MHADRI). There will be 18 ECRs from South Asia and South East Asia and Nirmal is one for the six from the UK.  The organizers will fund flight to and accommodation in Nepal.


Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen




The 2 Seas Programme has launched Call 8 for project applications across all specific objectives, with stage 1 Concept Notes due by the 8th April.  There is a UK step 1 seminar for organisations interested in the programme being held on the 6th March 2019 at the University of Greenwich, register here to attend, if you are new to the 2 Seas Programme you will need to set up an account first.  (there is a slight error on the website, with the seminar date of 06/06, please be assured on the registration page the 6th March date is correct.)

The seminar is a great chance connect with potential partners in the UK and learn about how the programme works and the application process.  There is also a very useful feature on the 2 Seas website for connecting with partners in the other member states and finding out about project ideas,  Cooperation Corner , you will need to set up an account in order to post to the site.

The website holds a wealth information, the various factsheets in the Programme Manual set out the various elements that each project needs to address. Some parts of the programme can be highly technical so please get in contact if you have any questions.

There is a conference on sustainable energy in June in Brussels, details can be found at:

Enter the Innovate UK Funding Zone – by improving your Technical Bid Writing


You are invited to a half day technical writing workshop where the art of writing successful grants will be unpacked by a successful bid writer who has won them, spoken with the assessors to learn how to win even more of them, and is almost in daily contact with the funder Innovate UK.

After the workshop attendees will have the opportunity to have a one-to-one session with the bid writer to discuss project ideas and to explore suitable grants.

The workshop is being held on Monday 4th March on the Talbot Campus from 09:30 – 16:30. Booking is essential.