Football trips to England – A Travel GuideExperience a football jouney to England - that would be something! This guide shows you how to do it!
The easy but expensive way to see a great game of football in England.You go to a well known travel agent for sports travel after which you will have nothing to worry about. It is expensive but you are certain to be at the big match.
Especially for fans who are only interested in top games like Arsenal versus Chelsea or Liverpool against arch rivals Manchester United, this way can be recommended. I have looked closely at some companies who offer sports travel (and bought tickets) and have come to the conclusion that there is only one company that I can recommend without reservation.
That is Thomas Cook Sport.
If Thomas Cook Sport has no more tickets left I can also conditionally recommend Tickets1a.
This recommendation is not without reservations, because I think the prices are simply outrageous.
Examples of ticket prices for top Premier League gamesManchester United - Arsenal FC including accommodation in a 3 star hotel:
Price with Thomas Cook Sport: € 243 per person.
Liverpool FC - Manchester United including accommodation in 3 star hotel:
Price with Thomas Cook Sport: € 370 per person
Browse around yourself at Thomas Cook Sport to get a picture for yourself of what is on offer. As mentioned before, this site is only in English but the price-performance ratio is OK. At Tickets1a you pay a lot more.
The most economical way to make a football trip to England.This has been tried and tested with various self-organized football trips to all parts of England and Scotland where teams of the top four divisions play.
In my opinion the most economical way also is also the most interesting way to travel to England for a football match. So let's get to work. What is the best way to proceed when organizing a soccer trip to England?
Step 1: Set your goals for the trip!
- When do you have time to travel? Are you flexible, or is there only one possible date?
- Do you want to see just one match or more matches?
- Must it be London, or can it also be at a different location?
- Does it really have to be the top games? Author's note: You can see Man United versus Chelsea two or three times a year on TV ... but not Watford versus Nottingham Forest! In my opinion, true English football at the top clubs is dead!
- Do you want something else from England other than pubs and football?
Step 2: Select the Games to be visitedThis step should be done about 2 months before the trip.
For this, use our England Football Maps. This geographical knowledge is useful if you want to see several matches without criss-crossing the country. It is almost always possible from Friday to Monday to see at least 3 football matches on a single week end!
Study the fixtures calendar of the English football matches. For this there are several portals. Our recommendations are as follows:
1) The BBC's fixtures are simply fantastic.. Here the Link: BBC Fixtures Premier League.
2) A very good overview of all leagues and cup competitions (except Premier League and FA Cup) can be found here: Official Football League Website. What can you do here, which is not possible at the BBC, is to display all competitions side by side.
What to consider when selecting the matchThe dates of matches are not fixed more than three months in advance. Important Rule: There are almost no fixtures 2 months in advance which take place on a guaranteed day. For fixtures use the BBC-Premier League fixtures as follows
Dates not yet fixed for the Premier League:
All games Saturday 15:00 => Non-scheduled!
Up to 3 months before the Games a 'normal' Premier League game plan looks like this. Basic rule: if the kick-off at the weekend is not Saturday 15:00 then the game has been definitely scheduled.
Dates partially fixed for the Premier League:
A game has been rescheduled for Sunday 13:30.
For example the match Wolverhampton v Birmingham is a derby. A derby traditionally (for security reasons) is scheduled earlier in the day, often on a Sunday. These kind of fixtures are scheduled fairly early after consultation with the local police.
This round was only partially fixed. Not all dates are final, since the other nine games on Saturday are all still at 15:00.
Dates definitely* fixed for the Premier League:
Signs that planning has been completed: The TV match has been scheduled for Saturday at 17:30. Also some matches have been scheduled for Sunday and a match (sometimes, but does not have to be) have been scheduled for Monday. This is a sure sign that the planning is complete.
* But be careful! There is never a 'final fixture'. Exceptions that can lead to 'medium term' (i.e. approximately one month in advance) changes of schedule are:
1. In the autumn, if a team qualifies for the Champions League its Saturday games may be rescheduled to Sunday or Monday.
2. In the autumn until December League Cup quarter-final games and later rounds can lead to Premier League Matches being rescheduled.
3. From January to April FA Cup replays very often cause matches to be rescheduled.
To summarise briefly: In the autumn it is important to note the League Cup and Champions League dates and from January on the FA Cup dates.
Tips for the choosing of a match in the lower divisionsHere, the following rules apply:
- Derbies and top games are also often moved to Sundays.
- In the Championship League often one single game of the week end is rescheduled for TV-Viewing to Friday.
- In a midweek rounds matches there are almost always some games on Tuesday and on Wednesday.
- League One and League Two matches are most always on Saturday at 15:00.
- For real 'addicts': In the Conference (fifth highest League) there is almost always a game on Friday evening!
- Thurday evening usually is a no football evening.
Step 3: Organising tickets for football matches in EnglandThis is probably the most time-costly part of the whole project. Here is the basic rule: the earlier you start this (getting tickets or obtaining information about getting tickets) the better! To get to the point - tickets for a game that is NOT a derby or a game below the Premier League level are normally not sold out. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket office. In the Championship League the level of play is not to be underestimated and the atmosphere is often even better than at a Premier League match.
Premier League Ticket Tips
- Look whether the previous games of the club against the same opponents were sold out or not. You can do this on the website of the host club by looking at the match reports for the last two seasons.
- At clubs like Blackburn, Bolton, Fulham, Wigan, Everton or Aston Villa, Newcastle, etc it is not usually a problem to get a ticket unless the opponent happens to be Manchester United or a local rival.
- There are clubs (e.g. Bolton Wanderers) that only sell tickets to matches against top teams to people who have previously already attended a game at the club. It can happen then, that no ticket will be sold to you although the game is not sold out! Yes, you understood that properly! That's just the way it is and there is no way to soften their hearts with sob stories!
- Look in the Ticket News of the club to see when the ticket sales start. In general, this is 2-3 weeks before to the game. You can also look at the website of the club to see whether other games that begin in 2-3 weeks have been sold out or not. When you buy tickets online in advance there are basically two ways to get the tickets. The club will either send them by mail or for customers outside the UK the club will often retain the tickets at the ticket office for collection before the game after proving your identity.
- If it is highly likely that the game is going to be sold out, then it is an option to become a member of the club. Many clubs offer this possibility. For example Everton FC has "Evertonia" for a one time membership fee of £20 (per person per year). This gives you the right to obtain tickets before most other fans of the club. Like this I was able to see the Derby Everton v Liverpool and Everton v Manchester United matches without any problems at all.
- For matches like Blackburn v Sunderland or Aston Villa vs Norwich and similar ones you can get tickets at the ticket office before the matches. But don't forget your ID card! Some clubs (not all) want to see your ID.
Clubs in lower divisionsThere is usually no problem to get hold of a ticket. I look at the stadium capacity and then how many spectators watched the same match in the previous season. So far once at the match Blackpool v Preston (a derby at the small stadium in Blackpool) I arranged something beforehand. I called the club, was put through to the ticket service and after giving my credit card details was able to buy two tickets which I could then collect on the day of the match from the stadium's ticket office upon presentation of the credit card. The woman on the phone was delighted with international guests and apologized that as "non-members" she could not give us seats in the centre of the main stand, after all, it was a Derby. Well, two Tickets on the main stand about at the beginning of the Penalty area will have to do the job, then, thanks! ;-)
Step 4: Organizing the trip to England
An obvious tip to start with: book the flight with a generous safety margin before and after the games but only after the kick-off times have been confirmed. The following sections show the advantages and disadvantages of various travel options.
Getting to LondonIf you only want to see matches in London then don't use the car to travel to England. For most Europeans flying is probably the most convenient and cheapest. The train might be an option where there is a TGV service.
Travel to England outside LondonIt is easiest to travel by plane. There are plenty of online platforms offering cheap flights, no need to mention them here. Just Google Things like "Cheap Flights" etc. Compare the prices of more than one platform.
Travelling to England by carIf you are determined to travel by car to England this of course is possible. The tunnel is usually the most expensive option for crossing the English Channel. For those who want to go to the South of England or the Midlands we recommend the ferry from Dunkirk to Dover. DFDS Seaways has a crossing every two hours.
Advantages of going via Dunkirk to Dover instead of Calais:
- The price of the crossing is usually much cheaper than from Calais
- The location of Dunkirk is better than calais (if you do not live in France or the South of Europe) as you can go via Belgium and avoid the toll on the French motorways
- The supposed disadvantage of a long ship journey will be compensated with reduced driving and lower fuel consumption
If you want to go to the North of England you might consider taking an overnight ferry. P&O Ferries sail from either Zeebrugge (Belgium) or Rotterdam to Hull. DFDS Seaways sails still further north to Newcastle - ideal for matches in Sunderland.
Step 5: Travel within England
Public transport between major cities in England works well. It can, however, be relatively expensive if you book spontaneously at the station. At NationalRail.co.uk you can check the prices.
I would only recommend public transport:
- If the matches are only in the city where you are staying.
- If you are only one day on the road and maybe only watch one match.
- If you are travelling alone (cheaper).
- If you are staying exclusively in the London area.
- If you or your travelling companions want to have a drink or two (alcohol).
In my opinion it makes little sense to take your own car on the journey. The car rentals are simply such good value for money and the flights usually do not cost all that much. When driving on the left, as one does in England, it is also an advantage if the driver is sitting in a rented car with right-hand drive and so has a better view when overtaking
Tips for train travel in England
Generally, travel outside of peak periods (off peak) is massively cheaper than during the rush hour. (Sometimes up to 50%).
Example: Birmingham - Nottingham an off-peak ticket costs £15. An anytime-time ticket costs £25. The sooner you buy a ticket the cheaper it is. This only applies to long distance travel and not to local public transport.
Car hire in the UKA rental car in England will not cost the earth. With the usual internet car rental price comparisons you can usually find a good deal.
I usually just compare prices and additionally go to cardelmar.com. Quite often Car Del Mar offers suppringly good rates, too.
Examples of prices: two weeks booked in advance from Birmingham airport, price for 3 days, driver over 25 years old:
Opel (Vauxhall) Corsa 1.2 (enough for three people plus luggage): £53 (approx €60 as of August 2011)
Ford Focus 1.6 (should be enough for four people plus luggage): £59 (about €68, as of August 2011)
For comparison the train from Birmingham to Nottingham costs a minimum of €15. If there are three of you then you have almost paid for the hire of the car for three days!
Rental cars on the spot are to be recommended if:
- Flexibility is required, e.g. for an excursion to one of the many castles or to the sea, etc. before a game on Wednesday night
- More than one person is travelling and several matches in various cities are on the program. The rental car is just so much cheaper ...
- You do not want to waste time on travelling to England in your own car.
Tip: Only make a rental car reservation if all the games are definitely taking place. (Two weeks in advance is enough. I have never experienced a problem with availability.)
Step 6: Accommodation in EnglandThis raises the question: B & B or Hotel?
The better choice: a run of the mill hotelYes, you read that correctly. I recommend a run of the mill (yes, just average) hotel in England.
I mostly book my hotels on one of the usual hotel price comparison sites. I always pay attention to the exact location of the hotel. The map is particularly important for me to be able judge the distance to the football stadium and to public transport facilities (e.g. distance to a Central Station, journey from the airport) and also access to the town centre for shopping and nightlife, etc.
Before I decide on a hotel, I always look at Google Street View Google Streetview (Pull the little Yellow Man onto the Map), to see what it is like around the hotel.
And I always pay attention to:
- General impression of the hotel.
- General impression of the neighbourhood of the hotel.
- Busy street outside the hotel? If yes, with lorries? => Noise factor!
- Pub in close vicinity to the Hotel? => Can also be a noise factor, if one happens to want to go to bed early!
- Are there catering facilities or a small shop nearby?
- A bonus is always when there is a pub about 100 to 200 meters away for a nightcap
B & B's - why they are less suitable for a football tripFor a holiday with your girlfriend or wife in England, I would certainly look at some country house or a cosy Bed & Breakfast.
After all, England is the land of B & B's! With football trips to England, however, it is usual to travel in a small group. Then perhaps a pub is visited before and after the football game and in the end the hotel will only be used for a few hours sleep.
Apologies to any female readers of this text ... but football trips are usually just a man's affair! But as a Tip: football trips make a great gift for your football crazy men folk!
Sure, a nice B & B is great. You can (almost always) talk to the landlord about anything under the sun and also get useful tips from a person with local knowledge.
But often you are staying overnight in a private home or in an extension in a quiet residential area.
If one returns to the B & B at 2 am, after downing a few pints, it might not always be welcome. ;-)