Collecting football memorabilia can become a big passion and a great way to connect with others. But do they know which editions to look out for or the worth of what’s laying around in their loft space?
In this well researched guide we aim to cover the most highly prized programmes in history and offer you advice on how you can get started collecting rare footie programmes and making some money today…
The first ever football match programme
The Football League and the first football match programme was arrived around the same time in 1888. Unlike today, the aim of a programme was to keep score and it was made up of a single sheet detailing the teams and match date.
In the decades to follow, the football programmes grew from pocket-size to A4, with some clubs preferring the smaller option and others opting for the larger format. From a single sheet of basic info, the availability of saddle-stitch book printing and a growth in popularity turned football programmes into thick, glossy books crammed with trivia, statistics and high-resolution photos that fans loved to buy before every match.
Today’s football programme still aims to offer spectators with key details of players on each team. Although today, the programme can also act as a mouthpiece for the club in question, allowing managers and players to speak to fans via interviews and club statements.
Some collectors will pay a high price for a football programme
In 2012, a family from Ipswich managed to make around £46,000 by auctioning off a set of football programmes they stumbled across in their house, which goes to show how easy it is to not realise the treasure you have sitting around your home.
Some will still recall when Sotheby’s New Bond Street auctioned off the oldest-known programme from a FA Cup final — Old Etonians vs Blackburn Rovers in 1882 — for £30,000, while a single-sheet programme from the 1909 FA Cup final between Manchester United and Bristol City went for £23,500 in 2012.
A helping hand for football programme collectors
Make sure you’re getting a good deal before you buy a programme, with help from these tips:
- Age — anything over 50 years old is most collectible.
- Rarity — if there are many available, this will bring the value down.
- Popularity — programmes with an iconic footballer on the cover or detailing a famous match are the most prized and valuable.
- Condition — creases, missing staples and water damage all harm the programme’s price, so ask for a photo before you pay.
It’s good to remember that any programme from an FA Cup final match holds value, as does any booklet that was perhaps the first or final edition of a player’s/manager’s career (i.e. the last game David Beckham played for Manchester United).
Some football teams’ programmes hold greater monetary value than others when it comes to programme collecting — although, programmes from your team’s past will be more personally valuable to you. Sides such as Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs, West Ham, and Arsenal are all highly sought after and are worth keeping an eye out for if you want a particularly valuable item. The Football Programme Centre is also a good source of advice if you’re keen on becoming a serious collector.
Make your hobby a money making one and get involved with collecting football programmes — track down a rare edition or grab a great bargain.
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