Football Programme Collecting

Old football programme

Rare football programmes can sell for a lot of money. Just a few years ago, at Sotheby’s, the oldest known football programme went at auction for £30,000. It was an FA Cup Final programme from 1882 (see above image), featuring Old Etonians v Blackburn Rovers.

Many other examples of rare football programmes being auctioned for high prices abound; a 1909 FA Cup Final programme, between Manchester United and Bristol City sold for £23,200, back in 2012.

Making money from football programmes

If you already have a love for collecting football programmes, then taking it to the next level to make some money will be great fun.

You probably already know, but there is a lot of history behind the football programme, and many different versions are sold for various prices, throughout the world.

Brief history

Football programmes first appeared in 1888, published alongside the beginning of the Football League. Back then, they were just used for keeping score, comprising of just a single sheet, detailing just the teams and the match date.

As time passed, football programmes got bigger size, and as their popularity grew, so did the detail and statistics contain within them. Soon fans would be eagerly queuing around the stands, to get their hands on the days match programme. Images and insight from the various teams matches, featured throughout, and demand continued for decades.

Soon fans would be eagerly queuing around the stands, to get their hands on the days match programme. Images and insight from the various teams matches, featured throughout, and demand continued for decades.

Valuable football programmes, what to look for

We have already talked about a couple of football programmes that sold for a good price. So, what do you look for when thumbing through football programme collections?

Well, firstly there are programmes that represent the first time a particular team may have reached a tournament final, or a programme which features a unique occasion.

A very rare football programme, which would be a great addition to any collection, is the first Wembley FA Cup final programme, played in 1923. The match which featured Bolton against West Ham United, this usually sells for just over 1000 pounds. There is also the FA Cup programme which featured the first non-English team to lift the FA Cup, Cardiff City in 1927. This programme has a value, around the 2,500 to 3000 pounds.

The original 1966 World Cup Final programmes are valuable too but beware of the many reprints in circulation. If you come across, the originals have different paper types across the pages, and a very deep, royal blue to the front cover. The reprints are also a lighter weight, so consider these factors whenever you see one.

Manchester United programmes from the 1957-58 season are always popular and will usually sell. The most valuable are from the cancelled match following the tragedy, against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Also, think about unique programmes, like the final match at played at Maine Road, or Beckham’s last match for Man United.

Collectors guide checklist

When exploring football collections, consider this a healthy checklist that will help you in making that purchase.

  • Programme age: For the programme to be considered a collectible, it should be at least 50 years old
  • Wear and tear: writing, missing staples, rips, and creases, will devalue the programme
  • Availability: If you can find many of them online, the value will not be great
  • Demand: Famous matches, testimonials and autographed programmes will aid its value

Another useful insight is to know that certain football teams’ programmes hold their value, consistently. The most popular teams where this is the case consist of the following:

  • Man United
  • Chelsea
  • Arsenal
  • Tottenham
  • Liverpool
  • West Ham

The Football Programme Collectors summary

Let us round this up.

  • Football programmes which hold their value are usually FA Cup Final programmes, or other big tournament football programmes
  • Anything over 50 years old will be worth something, to someone
  • The major English team programmes are in demand, globally
  • Look for programmes which hold a unique significance; last players match or played out at a now demolished stadium

Collecting and selling football programmes will make for a great hobby and usually leads to insight from forgotten periods of footballing history. Since we started, we’ve made friends with people from across the globe, and even chatted with one-time greats, who were even friends with footballing legends, like Pele.

Let us know how you get on and do come back for more footballing insights from ourselves, and most importantly enjoy it.

Oh, and for people who want a deeper look in to unique football programmes from English football clubs, check out this book – Fully Programmed, The Lost World of Football Programmes, by Derek Hammond and Gary Silke (available from Amazon).

football programmes book