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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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By ESPN Staff

Blair backs plans to cut ticket prices

LONDON, Feb 27 (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Tuesday backed a bid to cut the cost of Premiership tickets that campaigners say are the most expensive in Europe and are pricing ordinary fans out of the game.

In parliament, almost 50 lawmakers have signed a motion calling on the league to slash the cost of individual and season tickets.

'Anyone who watches the Premiership can just notice, in the past year or couple of years, the rows of empty seats,' Blair said at a news conference.

'It's something I do not recall seeing in the same way four or five years back so I think there are very sensible market-based reasons for people to make sure the ticket prices aren't beyond the reach of the ordinary fan.'

Blair said it was up to the clubs to decide whether to cut their prices but that 'the logic of it is pretty clear'.

According to the parliamentary motion, season tickets to see top soccer clubs in England cost four times more than in Germany, the Netherlands and Italy.

The motion urges the Premier League to use at least some of the extra 325 million pounds ($638.9 million) it has recently obtained in overseas television rights to reduce ticket prices.

Opposition Liberal Democrat parliamentarian Don Foster, who began the parliamentary campaign, said the cheapest premiership ticket is almost 33 pounds on average.

'It's simply unacceptable that football's recent cash bonanza isn't getting back into fans' pockets,' Foster said.

Government minister Jack Straw recently said some clubs were 'fleecing the ordinary supporter' while Sports Minister Richard Caborn has referred to 'sky-high ticket prices'.

Some clubs have already said they will reduce their ticket prices while others have yet to announce their future fees.