How to Buy Tickets for English Soccer:
What I Have Learned So Far

For even more about English soccer,
check out the new site for my upcoming book:
An American’s Guide to English Soccer


How to buy tickets for an English soccer game.
This one got me into a Cup Game at Sheffield.

In my quest to visit all 92 league soccer stadiums (aka football grounds) of England, I have picked up a few things about how to buy tickets for the Premier League and other games. I am by no means any kind of guru, but I have managed since 2014 to see 31 games at 28 grounds, including games at Arsenal, Manchester City, Man U, and Everton. And I’m going back this fall for two trips of about 6 games each over 10 days!

I now offer consulting services to folks wanting to watch soccer in England.

Check it out!

So here is what I know so far – with more to come as I continue on my quest.

What Does it Cost?

To get into a Premier League match, expect to pay something along the lines of 35 to 50 pounds. Currently, at around $1.60 per pound, that translates to 55-80 dollars. In the Championship (second tier of leagues) I typically pay about 25 quid (40 bucks), and I assume it’s lower than that in lower leagues. For Cup games (see below), I have seen them as low as 15 pounds ($25), and sometimes for Cups they run a “kids for a quid” thing that makes for a real family atmosphere.

How to buy tickets for an English soccer game.
Not all the ticket offices are as old-fashioned as the ones at Fulham.

Buying Tickets From the Club

This is the simplest and most obvious route for tickets, but there are still some things to know, like how clubs allocate tickets. Basically, they start with season ticket holders, then members (more on that in a moment), then the general public gets a shot. But many games never even make it to the “general public” stage.

It basically depends on which club you’re dealing with, and who they’re playing. Teams have different tiers of games with different pricing and requirements for each. For example, if Manchester City is playing Manchester United, no way that game goes on sale to the general public; there just won’t be any tickets left. And even within the first two levels (season tickets and members) the price will be higher, and there will be a lower ticket-per-person limit, than if City was playing Hull. If you’re determined to see one of these higher-level games involving top clubs, you’ll need a membership or you’ll be dealing with a broker or website (see below).

Many clubs also have a ticket exchange on their website, allowing season ticket holders who can’t make a game re-sell their tickets.

Ticket tip: If you’re buying from a club, it’s critical to pay attention to on-sale dates. has a ticket-status page for each game, but all they do is aim you at the club sites. Once at the club site, you’ll need to look for the “general sale” date for your match and jump on it that day.

How to buy tickets for an English soccer game.
To get into a place like the Emirates, home of Arsenal, you might need to buy a membership.

Memberships: Paying for Access

One of the many things England has that America doesn’t is paid club memberships. This is where you pay an annual fee for various perks like the club newsletter, a trinket of some sort, a loyalty-points account … and access to buy tickets before the “general sale” date. There are different levels at each club, and from what I’ve seen you can expect to pay around $50 for this. Some of them have an international membership that gets you a chance to buy tickets for one or two games.

Paying $50 just for the chance to maybe buy a ticket may seem silly, but I’ve been trying for months to get any ticket to Liverpool and Crystal Palace, and I’ve been shut out. I am considering a membership just so I can get into these stadiums at all! I am also a proud member of the Fulham Faithful, which really has more to do with irrational loyalty than anything else. Getting into Fulham these days is no problem, really.

Ticket tip: Check on those international memberships if you’re only trying to get into one game.

How to buy tickets for an English soccer game.
Shooting for a big club like Chelsea? Think about a Cup game.

Cups: Easier to Get Into

If you’re determined, say, to get into Old Trafford to see Manchester United, you probably won’t care who they’re playing. Unless you’re loaded with cash you won’t see them play Liverpool or Chelsea, but you have a decent chance at some of the lower-level games.

One thing to watch for here is Cup games. (Here’s a quick introduction to the leagues and cups of English soccer). They tend to be during the week and, at least in earlier rounds, against smaller opponents. I got killer seats at Old Trafford (for about $50) for a League Cup game on a Tuesday night in January. It was a semifinal leg, but it was the David Moyes season, and the fans were losing faith. Also, the opponents were Sunderland, not one of the heavyweights of the sport.

Another fun thing about Cup games is that will be more away fans, due to Cup rules. So when I saw Sunderland win at Man U, instead of the usual 3,000 away fans at a League game, there were 9,000 delirious Sunderland fans in the end having the times of their lives.

When I say “Cups,” by the way, I mean the FA Cup and the League Cup. There are also European competitions, but those are tough tickets indeed. For a whole discussion of the leagues and cups of English football, see the link above.

Ticket tip: Pay attention to when the draws for each round are announced, usually right after the previous round is finished. Set up Google News Alerts for “fa cup draw” and “league cup draw” to make sure you know about them. Or just check in regularly at and, the official name for what everybody calls the League Cup.

How to buy tickets for an English soccer game.
If you’re in London and want to catch a game, consider a lower-league team like Charlton.

Lower Leagues: “I Just Want to See a Game!”

If you’re like me and don’t really care about seeing only the top teams, you should definitely consider going to a Football League game instead of a Premier League game. The English game is arranged in a pyramid, with the Premier League at the top with 20 teams; under that, in three leagues of 24 each, are the Championship, League One, and League Two – collectively called the Football League.

All of these are much easier, and cheaper, tickets to get – unless you’re talking about a rivalry game, a big Cup game, or a late-season game with major consequences in the table (standings).

For example, if you’re going to London and want to catch a game, any game, there are about 16 teams in the greater area, between the four leagues.


Here’s a map of the London football geography from

How to buy tickets to English soccer games.

This doesn’t even get into the five Conference teams, but let’s keep it fairly simple for now. The same situation is true of other big cities like Manchester and Birmingham, so don’t limit yourself to just the Premier League. In many ways, I find the Football League to be a more enjoyable experience, with smaller stadiums and longtime dedicated fans.

How to buy tickets to English soccer games.
I got into the Stoke-Leicester game pretty easily.

Another Key: Who Are They Playing?

The other thing about getting into these bigger clubs is, of course, who are they playing? Arsenal-Chelsea is a nearly impossible ticket, but Arsenal-Fulham? Or Chelsea-Swansea? Much easier. Some things to watch for here, though: small stadiums and local rivalries. I can’t, for love or money, seem to get a ticket to see Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, reputed to be among the best places to see a game in the country. It’s because the stadium is small and the fans are super dedicated. (It’s the same thing at bigger clubs like Liverpool, as well.)

I also tried, this spring, to see Nottingham Forest of the Championship play at home. The opponent was Derby County, and there were no tickets available. The ticket office didn’t even return my emails! Finally I dug a little deeper and realized I was trying to get into the East Midlands Derby – “derby” being their word for a local rivalry. And it’s pronounced “darby” for some reason.

Anyway, Forest and Derby County are only 16 miles apart and genuinely hate each other. No way I was getting into that one, unless I ride out on the train with a pocket full of cash (which I have yet to try) or go to a third-party broker.

Ticket tip: You can preview the whole schedule at and, for the lower leagues, at Just remember that sometimes dates will change after being posted.

How to buy English soccer tickets.
Watford didn’t completely fill their section at Man City for an FA Cup game.

Buying Away Team Tickets

Sometimes the best way to get in is with the visiting team. For example, in my quest to see a game at Liverpool I might decide to buy tickets from West Bromwich Albion when they are playing there. And this might work. But one of my rules for attending English soccer games is “Don’t sit with the away fans unless you’re one of them.” I’m not quite that strict about it, but in my experience, the away fans tend to be the hard-core ones, and life in the away end can get quite rowdy.

I had a great time with the Sunderland people at Chelsea, but I had friends in there, and Sunderland won – which brings me to another rule, “Don’t show your away colors outside the stadium.”

How to buy English soccer tickets.
Who knew “touting” was a crime?

Third Parties: Websites and Touts

Let’s get this term out of the way first: a tout in England is a scalper in the States. I have no experience with them in person, and I really don’t intend to. I have a philosophical problem with re-selling tickets for a profit. Still, I have researched third-party websites just a little.

I would start with the standard “safe ticket buying” link at, where you can also see the latest on tickets for each fixture. They also have a list there of un-authorized re-selling websites.

As for “legit” websites, near as I can tell, that list includes Viagogo, which has official relationships with some of the clubs, and Thomas Cook, which also has official relationships with some clubs and offers “Match Breaks” that include a ticket and a hotel room. Sample price is 350 pounds ($565) for a fancy hotel and a ticket to the Spurs-Everton game.

I hope this post is helpful. If you have any questions, or suggestions, please post a comment below.

See you at the grounds ….

For even more about English soccer,
check out the new site for my upcoming book:
An American’s Guide to English Soccer

You might also want to
subscribe to my all-soccer “GroundHopper” newsletter.

(The “Bulletin” below also covers hiking, travel, and other stuff).



Watching Soccer in England – When to Go

For even more about English soccer,
check out the new site for my upcoming book:
An American’s Guide to English Soccer

Sheffield United fans before an FA Cup game.
Sheffield United fans before an FA Cup game.

What’s the best time to go watch soccer in England?

As I sit here planning my trips to watch soccer in England during the upcoming season, I find myself thinking there are two ways to approach this thing.

One way is to say, “When can I go, and what games will be happening while I’m there?” In other words, maybe you’re going for Christmas (a great time to be there!) or late summer (also great) or Spring Break (iffy for soccer), and you’re wondering what will be available.

Another way (which I aim for) is, “What’s the best time to go, when I will have the greatest number of games to choose from?”

It’s for both reasons, but mainly the second, that I have worked up this blog post about when to go see soccer games in England. A version of this, for the 2016-17 season, will appear in my guidebook to English soccer, which I will publish in summer of 2016. (Meanwhile, you can read all my English soccer blog posts here.)

Sunderland at Chelsea in the Premier League
Sunderland at Chelsea in the Premier League

First, About All The Competitions

English soccer isn’t like American sports, where there’s a regular season, then a playoff. In England, and all other countries really, there’s a league season – actually many of them – and then various tournaments (Cups) spread throughout the season. So in any given week, there might be four leagues and two Cups to choose from!

You can go read my guide to the leagues and cups and English soccer, or you can accept this very quick summary: Imagine that all of baseball in the US was entirely independent teams, instead of the farm system we have today. So, all the major leagues would play each other, plus AAA, AA, A, and on down the line. But they wouldn’t have postseason playoffs – just a league season, and whoever has the best record wins. In England, there’s the Premier League, then three levels of the Football League: the Championship, League One, and League Two. Then there’s a bunch more below that, but forget them for now.

Back to the baseball analogy, there would also be “cups” during the year, where all the A teams would play a game, then the winners would move on to face the AA teams, then those winners would face AAA teams, and eventually the major league teams would join, then it would all lead up a championship game.

And every round is completely unseeded! So the Yankees (Manchester United) might have to play at Savannah, Georgia (Charlton Athletic). In theory, a AA team could beat a major league team for the title. Basically, that’s a “cup” in English soccer, and there’s a bunch of them, but we’ll just worry about the two biggies, the League Cup and the FA Cup.

The League Cup is just for the 92 professional teams in the Football League and Premier League, and the FA Cup is pretty much for everybody – more than 800 teams last year!

Still with me? One last level here: The top five or so teams (it’s complicated) in the Premier League also play in European tournaments each year, but those are called leagues, which is confusing and silly. These are the Champions League and the Europa League. Basically, think NCAA and NIT.

English soccer tour: West Ham United.
The Sir Trevor Booking Stand at West Ham United.

Okay, Let’s Talk Dates

The season basically corresponds to our school year, August to May. All the leagues run in those dates, more or less playing every weekend, but occasionally taking a week off or moving to mid-week to accommodate Cups or European competitions. Sometimes the European stuff, in particular, is during the week.

Let’s say you’re in the first group mentioned above: planning a trip over there, and wondering which games will be happening while you’re there. I have created a chart (Best-Times-To-See-Soccer-in-England) with weeks across the top and competitions down the side. (I did that for the 2012-13 season, but you get the idea). So “9-3” means third week of September, and the legend on Page 1 will explain what all the symbols mean. I put this together based on the last three seasons, and the yellow stuff is my predictions based on that research.

Here’s a whole post about the Best Times to Go to England to Watch Soccer, 2016-17 Season.

There’s no week from August to May when somebody isn’t playing soccer in England, so whenever you’re there, you’ll have options. I’ll write another post about how to get tickets, but for now just rest assured they’re always at it, somewhere.

Seeing soccer in England: Tour Craven Cottage at Fulham
Craven Cottage in London, home of Fulham FC of the Championship.

Watching Soccer in England – Best Times to Go

But let’s get to the heart of the matter: When is the best time to go to England to watch soccer?

First, let’s talk about the weather. It’s mild in summer, fall, and late spring. It’s plain shitty for most of winter – think 38 degrees and raining. Bad news is, all the games are outside. Good news is, most of them are in the afternoon, and almost all the seats are covered. Also good news: Summer is the most expensive and crowded time to get there, and in summer nobody’s playing soccer. I’ve flown over in January for $900 on a half-full plane. (These are among the many things I think you’ll love about watching soccer in England.)

That said, and looking at my chart, here are some good times to go, and my reasoning for each:

The Last Week of August: Every year that I researched, in the last week of August, all four top leagues were playing; the FA Cup was in its final Preliminary Round; and the League Cup was in its Second Round. All of those games are in England! There would be 92 league teams playing (roughly 20 of them in the Greater London Area, so probably 10 games). In the FA Cup, the Preliminary Round has 320 teams in it – so that’s 160 games in one weekend! And we’re talking about teams like, oh, Bridlington Town, which has a stadium of about 3,000 people. This is the “real” FA Cup!

Meanwhile, in the League Cup, this is when most of the Premier League teams enter (the ones not playing in Europe), so for this round there’s something like 25 games in a weekend.

And remember, these cups are unseeded! If you ever wanted to get into, say, Old Trafford to see Manchester United, this is a great chance to get a seat, since they might be playing, say, Newport County. On the other hand, Man U might have to play at Newport County!

Meanwhile, both European Cups are also happening the last week of August, in early rounds, so there might be games in England then, as well.

English football leagues and cups
Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium

Last Week of September: Again, all the leagues will be playing, and the FA Cup will be in its Second Round Qualifying. This would be teams like Stockport County (capacity 10,000) playing somebody like Didcot Town (capacity 3,000, but only 350 seated!). Also this week, the League Cup has its Third Round, when the rest of the Premier League teams come in. There are always a few League One teams still around (that’s the third level of the country), so for example last year mighty Chelsea had to play at Swindon Town in front of fewer than 15,000 fans, and Stoke City of the Premier League played Tranmere Rovers in front of 16,000 people.

Last Week of October: All leagues playing, final qualifying round of the FA Cup (32 games), Fourth Round of the League Cup (8 games), and early-round games in the Europa League, which may include a Premier League team at home. Plus, I have to think Halloween in London would be fun?

First Week of December: All leagues playing, plus the FA Cup Second Round, with 20 games. League One and Two teams entered in the last round. Also this week are early rounds of the Champions League, with probably a couple games in England, but that’s a tough ticket!

Second Week of December: All leagues, and Round 5 of the League Cup, which is the quarterfinals and usually made up entirely of Premier League teams. This is also when those clubs and fans start to give a crap about it. (Think quarterfinals of the NIT). There will also be early-round Europa League games this week, some of them probably in the UK. and there’s this — who the hell travels in the second week of December?

See an English soccer game at West Bromwich Albion.
The Hawthorns in Birmingham, home of West Bromwich Albion of the Premier League.

The Holiday “Festive” Period: If you can stand the weather, this is the absolute best time to go watch English soccer. Every league plays a full schedule this year on December 20, December 26 (Boxing Day), and December 28. Then the Premier League plays again on Thursday, January 1, and League One and League Two play on January 3. That’s a stretch of 15 days with 181 league games!

And why don’t the Premier League and Championship play the first weekend of January? Because that’s the week of the FA Cup 3rd Round, when all 44 of those teams enter! So, on the first weekend of January (this year it’s the 3rd and 4th), there are another 32 FA Cup games. At this point, there are still some teams left from League Two or lower, like Kidderminster Harriers of Conference Premier (level 5), who last season made the 4th Round and played at Sunderland.

By my count, that’s 213 fully professional soccer games to choose from in two weeks! I’m all over it this year.

Last Week of January: All leagues in action, plus the 4th Round of the FA Cup, with 16 games, and the semifinals of the League Cup.

First Week of March: Maybe your spring break? All leagues playing (45 games), plus the final of the League Cup at Wembley Stadium in London, and Round of 16 games in the Champions League. Those last two can be really tough tickets, but it’s a fun time to be there. Find out where the fans are gathering the night before the League Cup Final, and go see that for sure.

English Soccer: Seeing a game at Arsenal.
Arsenal’s 60,000-seat Emirates Stadium, in London.

Second Week of March: All leagues, FA Cup quarterfinals, maybe some Champions League.

Last Week of March: All leagues, Europa Round of 16, and – here’s something new – qualifying stages for the 2016 European Championships in France. 50-50 chance England has a home game this week.

Third Week of April: All leagues, plus the FA Cup semifinals, Saturday and Sunday at Wembley. Really festive weekend in town.

Second Week of May: Premier League playing, plus the next three leagues down – Championship, League One, and League Two – having playoff semifinals to determine who gets promoted one league up for the next season. This is some intense shit. (Note: These dates aren’t official for the coming season, but it’s a good guess.)

I got "scarfed" by Sunderland fans at a Premier League game last season.
I got “scarfed” by Sunderland fans at a Premier League game last season.

Fourth Week of May: This would be an awesome time, as well! Last week of the Premier League, when all 20 games start at exactly the same time, usually with serious stuff on the line, like who’s gonna win the league, who’s qualifying for Europe, and who’s getting relegated to the Championship. Everybody calls it “chaos.” Also this week will be at least one, probably two, playoff finals for the Championship, League One and/or League Two.

FA Cup Final: If you’ve got serious connections or about $1,000, the FA Cup Final this year is on May 30 at Wembley. I really hope to be there!

Alright, so as you can see, I think there are a lot of good times to go watch soccer in England. I’ll have a hard time deciding, for sure. Like I said, on a future post I’ll get into how to buy tickets. And then I’ll do stuff like where to sit (and where not to sit), what some of the songs are, which rivalries (derbies) to look out for, etc.

I am just in love with English soccer at the moment, and I hope I have sparked a little interest in you, as well!

For even more about English soccer,
check out the new site for my upcoming book:
An American’s Guide to English Soccer

You might also want to
subscribe to my all-soccer “GroundHopper” newsletter.

(The “Bulletin” below also covers hiking, travel, and other stuff).