Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Investing in Football Memorabilia: How to Bag a Bargain

The craze around collecting football memorabilia seems to be making a comeback. But, many fans now aren’t sure of what to look for and how much an item they already own in storage could be worth.

With this guide we’ll take a look at football programmes in particular and along the way. We’ll cover which editions have sold for the most money and offer you advice on how you can get started collecting rare footie programmes today…

Football match programmes: the history

The initial football programmes were published and launched alongside the Football League launch 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.

Football fans are likely to have heard of the Villa News and Record for Aston Villa — one of the first programmes released. 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.

Did you know, football programmes started out as pocket sized but then were later developed to A4? From a single sheet of basic info, the availability of saddle stitched 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.

These days fans rely on football programmes for player information. 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.

What price should you pay?

Some professional collectors will pay out a lot of money for certain 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.

Fairly recently, New Bond Street auctioned the oldest-known programmed from a Football Association Cup Final for £30,000 — detailing Old Etonians vs Blackburn Rovers from 1882. Similarly, in 2012, the single sheet programme from 1909 between Manchester United and Bristol City sold for £23,500.

Examples of some very valuable programmes

Football programmes have always been significant part of a match day, but how collectable are they really? Reports have suggested that the first Wembley final programme dating back to 1923 between Bolton and West Ham United is worth just £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!

However, a programmes worth a lot more is the 1966 England vs West Germany. 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.

Hang onto any cancelled game programmes as they’re worth something too — take the Manchester United vs Wolverhampton Wanderers game in 1958 following the Munich air disaster. 

This can go to auction for around £10,000. However, once rescheduled, another programme was created where the club showed respect to those involved in the disaster by leaving the team page blank.

A set of handy tips for collectors

Make sure you grab a bargain if you can, when it comes to 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. 

There are a wide range of programmes in existence that are valuable, so it’s worth collecting them at any match you go to — especially if it also specifies a special event, such as the last time a player plays. 

Also, certain teams typically 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.

Where The Trade Buys are print experts and retailers, based online and in the UK. As well as offering bollard signs for businesses, they specialise in promotional and office print services for B2B industries.






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