Collecting football memorabilia can be more than just an enjoyable hobby, it can also be a money maker. But do they know which editions to look out for or the worth of what’s laying around in their loft space?
There are many ways to help maximise your chances of making money. To help,we’ve compiled some useful information and top tips so that you can get started collecting and investing today…
A look back at the history
The first match programme was printed for fans shortly after The Football League started 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.
Which team did the first programme belong to? One of the first programmes to be published was The ‘Villa News and Record’ for Aston Villa. Soon after, the football programme took on a weightier format of between four and eight pages, while the covers became more attention-grabbing and attractive. During and after World War II, a paper shortage cut the number of programmes that clubs could produce — making any that were released very collectible today.
Looking back through the years, football programmes have changed in size and have grown 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.
Is there a profit to be made from football memorabilia?
Often people’s eyes light up when they learn how much money can be made from football programmes. 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.
Looking at another example, 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.
The most valued football programmes available
Many football fans pride themselves on their collection of match programmes. But how collectible are they and which should you search for if you want to bag a truly special edition?
Do you want to start buying some programmes to make money and help your personal finances? Try finding the first Wembley final programme from 1923, which details the match between Bolton and West Ham United and is worth around £1,000. Alternatively, there’s the programme from the one and only time a non-English club lifted the FA Cup — Cardiff City vs Arsenal in 1927 — which ended with a score of 1-0 and has a value of about £2,500!
When it comes to an exceptionally rare and valuable item, the 1966 England vs West Germany programme is potentially one of the most highly prized programmes in sport. But be warned; there were three reprints of the original, so tracking down a bona fide version is tough. If you want to be sure you’re buying an original, check the weight and colouring — the reprints are more lightweight, while the front cover of the original is a deep, royal blue. Different paper types are also used for the team pages in the original, but not in the reprinted versions.
If you only have a small budget to start with, there are lower priced programmes that are also available. This includes a wartime England vs Wales international programme — which once sold for £750 — a 1932 Arsenal vs Manchester City — which reportedly made £520 — and a 1931 Exeter vs Leeds copy — which reached a decent £500.
Some key advice for investing
The following top tips will help get your started with investing in football programmes:
- 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.
Usually any programme from an FA Cup final match holds some 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).
It’s often the case that programmes of certain football teams are worth more than others too.
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.
Football memorabilia collecting is a popular hobby and one that’s shared by many fans across the UK.So, why not keep yourself football-focused until the new season kicks off by learning more about the hobby?
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