Ticket Stats Tell us About America's Thirst for European Soccer
Americans are watching a lot of—maybe too much—live Chelsea
If you're planning a trip to the old country and want to catch a European soccer match, you're not alone. Soccer tourism has become big business in Europe's top leagues. Ticketbis, a European ticket reseller (think Stubhub, Europe), recently released statistics on who's buying and where you can get the best deals.
Here's what the stats reveal: Americans have never been thirstier for European soccer. For example, this year, for the first time, Americans bought more El Clasico tickets than any other nationality aside from the Spanish themselves.
Despite El Clasico's popularity, 60 percent of Ticketbis's American ticket purchases were for Premier League matches. (La Liga's share is just 26 percent, while Serie A and the Bundesliga account for just 4 percent and 3 percent, respectively.) In England, Sunderland's Stadium of Light is, weirdly, the only place where Americans don't rank among the top foreign visitors. Apparently we still hold a grudge over Jozy Altidore's failed career at the club.
Even more surprising is that despite Arsenal's enormous American hipster fanbase, the stadium most visited by Americans is not the Emirates. In fact Arsenal's most frequent overseas visitors are the French, who make up a little more than 17 percent of foreign ticket buyers on Ticketbis. This makes sense: Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger is French, and an aristocratic genius. The team also features Olivier Giroud, a life-sized, soccer-playing Ken doll.
What makes far less sense is that Americans prefer Chelsea's Stamford Bridge, which accounted for a whopping 20.63 percent of all 2014-15 Ticketbis ticket sales in the United States. You read that correctly: Assuming Ticketbis' sales provide a representative sample of all ticket purchases, almost as many Americans bought tickets for a match at Chelsea last season as they did for every club in Spain combined.
Why this is happening is not entirely clear, but it should stop. America, seriously, don't do this. Yes, Chelsea is the Premier League champion, but this time last year Stamford Bridge was as quiet as a library. This year I hear it's not much better, despite all the groaning and grumbling and tears. (Note: quietness and foreign visitation might not be mutually exclusive).
What's more, according to Ticketbis, Stamford Bridge is not the best place to go if you're a neutral and just want to get a good bang for your buck.
In fact, the best value for money in the Premier League is found at Manchester City. When comparing average ticket prices to goals scored, Ticketbis found Chelsea was the Premier League's worst choice. Based on average ticket price, a goal at the Bridge cost 103.58 euros; at City, a goal cost just 58.72 euros. There are cheaper deals than City—specifically Newcastle, Sunderland, and West Brom—but you won't get to watch Sergio Aguero if you choose one of those.
So there you have it, folks. If you're a neutral fan and you want the European soccer experience at a fair price, go watch Manchester City. Or better yet, don't go to the Premier League at all. The average resale ticket price for all 2014-15 Premier League matches was 182.02 euros, the highest in Europe. You can get a better deal just about anywhere.