By Jonathan Davies

The average price of the cheapest ticket to watch English football has grown almost twice the increase in the cost of living.

BBC Sport's annual Price of Football study showed that average price for the cheapest ticket to watch a Premier League, Championship, League 1 or League 2 match is now £21.49, 13% more than in 2011. In that time, the cost of living has gone up by 6.8%.

Year-on-year, ticket prices are up 4.4%, which is more than treble to 1.2% rate of inflation announced yesterday (Tuesday) by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Ticket prices have become a contentious issue in football over recent years, with evidently rising costs. But many football clubs, particularly Premier League clubs, will argue that ticket prices are justified by full stadiums.

Shadow sports minister Clive Efford MP said the "inflation-busting" increases "just cannot be acceptable".

"Any business that thinks it can simply rely upon the loyalty of its customers, regardless of how they treat them, in the end will fail. It's an absolute fact," he added.

"Therefore I would be asking clubs, 'are your fans happier today than they were five years ago with the experience that they get, the value for money that they feel they're getting?'"

It is widely accepted that football clubs are being increasingly run likes businesses, given the money that is in the game now. And that is one of the biggest issues facing disgruntled fans. From a purely business point of view, clubs want to get as many people into the stadium as possible and they want people to pay as much as possible for it.

The Football Supporters' Federation has said cuts to ticket prices would be offset by the latest TV deal.

Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the group, said: "Three times the rate of inflation is completely unacceptable from an industry that's got megabucks going in at the top."

Cathy Long, the Premier League's head of supporter services, said: "For the Premier League and our clubs, keeping the grounds as full as possible is our top priority.

"The attendances so far this season are very encouraging, with more than 95% of seats sold and average crowds tracking with last season's, which were the highest in English top-flight football since 1949-50."

The figures

£97 - the most expensive ticket available in English football, charged by Arsenal.

£2,013 - the most expensive season ticket available in English football, charged by Arsenal. £1,014 is Arsenal's cheapest season ticket, which is more than the most expensive season tickets charged by 17 Premier League clubs.

£299 - the Premier League's cheapest season ticket, charged by Manchester City. It is cheaper than 15 Championship clubs, 10 League 1 clubs, 4 League 2 clubs and even on Conference club.

£150 - the cheapest season ticket available in the Football League, charged by Charlton. In comparison, Barcelona is one of the world's biggest and most successful clubs; its lowest priced season ticket is £103.

Clubs in Europe

English football fans have often pointed towards the ticket pricing system used by clubs on the continent, particularly in Germany and Spain.

The German Bundesliga is usually the one highlighted as the league which keeps prices low for its fans. Four of Germany's biggest clubs, Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke, all sell match-day tickets for less than £13.

In France and Italy, there is often huge variation in match-day ticket prices. French side Lille's cheapest prices are as little as £5.87, but other tickets cost more than £100.

Italian giants AC Milan charge £163 for their cheapest season ticket, but its most expensive costs a whopping £3,600.

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