How to Buy a Signed Football Programme

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How to Buy a Signed Football Programme

Buying football programmes has been associated with football fans in Great Britain for quite some time, and a number of them are now looked upon as collectibles. Buying and collecting football programmes now, however, is not really limited to football fans, with a number of people jumping on the bandwagon because they view these as good investment alternatives. This, of course, is not so good for the football fan, because it has resulted in a significant increase in the prices of football programmes. For instance, a 1920 FA Cup Final programme should cost more than 1,000 pounds today, and in the case that it is signed, the cost increases further.

When it comes to buying signed football programmes, buyers have various options in which to turn. There are various clubs and fan groups around the U.K. that organise programme fairs on a regular basis, and some auction houses are known to include signed programmes in their inventories, making it worthwhile to follow them. Turning online to websites like eBay is a good alternative, given that buyers can access the items that various sellers have to offer through a single source. Before buying a signed football programme, consumers should learn about their history, establish just why they wish to collect football programmes, pay attention to authenticity, and know how to store them.

A Brief History of Football Programmes

Football programmes have been around since the late 1800s, although they have evolved considerably since they first came into being. While earlier football programmes were rather simple team sheets that simply gave information about upcoming fixtures and players in each team, modern day football programmes come with a variety of information about teams, statistics, advertisements, and so on. Early programmes were given to paying spectators for free, and helped them to identify players in accordance to their respective positions marked in the programmes, given that their jerseys came without numbers.

With the passing of time, club owners realised that these programmes could be sold if they offered more in terms of information, and by the turn of the century, a number of prominent clubs moved beyond single sheet programmes. Around the 1920s, after the War, these programmes were looked upon as more than a means to generate income; clubs began viewing their football programmes as a means to communicate with their supporters. Sizes of football programmes from this period are typically large, and finding one without creases is almost impossible, given that they had to be folded so that they could fit into pockets. War time saw limited supply of paper, and during this period, a number of pirate programmes came into being. These, surprisingly, are valued highly by many football programme collectors. Interest in football programmes as collectibles began sometime around 1950s, and the establishment of various football-specific publications helped collectors trade programmes more easily.

The value of football programmes varies depending on several factors, although one thing that can be said with certainty is that a signed football programme is more valuable than a copy of the same programme, unsigned. How rare any particular programme is can have a significant bearing on its price; an example being, football programmes of clubs that no longer exist are normally priced steeply.

Why Collect Football Programmes?

Before delving into the world of collecting football programmes, buyers should establish just why they wish to collect them in the first place, which can help establish how much money should be spent. Different people are known to buy signed football programmes for different reasons, and while some do it because of the connection these programmes help to provide to fans with their clubs and players, some others do it from the investment perspective.

Can Football Programmes Be Investment Worthy?

How investment worthy or expensive a football programme can become depends largely on its rarity. The rarer a programme, the more it typically costs. How much a football programme can rise in value is hard to distinguish, although they can be appraised for current day values. A football programme, however, can multiply in value overnight, as long as one manages to find a suitably interested buyer.

There are many examples of just how investment worthy signed and unsigned football programmes can be. For example, a majority of match programmes created for a 1957 Wolves vs. Manchester United match were pulped because the match did not take place, and the ones that survived sell for more than 4,000 pounds in the present day scenario. Another example is that of an FA Cup Final programme from 1927 when Cardiff beat Arsenal, wherein one fetched its seller 1,200 pounds not so long ago.

Recorded History

Certain football programmes, depending on the type of a collection a person is working towards, can be excellent sources of history surrounding the history of any given club during any given season. After all, these programmes include details like matches won and lost, number of goals scored, and more. This information, especially for older periods, is hard to come by elsewhere. Access to printed advertisements of bygone eras are also something that finds favour with some collectors.

What Are Collections Based On?

Collecting signed football programmes is a niche in itself, and the older and rarer a signed football programme, the more valuable it is. Collectors are known to base their football programme collections on different criteria. These can include collecting programmes of teams they follow, like Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, and others; programmes of specific seasons, which can range from pre-1950 to more recent years; programmes from specific competitions, like the Champions League, Division 1, 2, or 3, FA Cup, League Cup, the Premiership, and so on.

These are not all of the parameters, and all are definitely hard to narrow down because these collections can be based on just about anything. For example, while some people favour collecting only programmes for Finals, some others may want to get their hands on every programme linked to their home team.


Verifying authenticity is very important, especially when buying signed football programmes. Buyers should be aware that signatures of famous people are not hard to find, and not very difficult to replicate. Buyers should know that signed football programmes typically sell for a fair amount of money, and finding out that a signature is fake may not really be of help once the purchase is made. Consequently, if a signed football programme is being sold for much less than it should be, it should serve as enough reason to be a little wary. The easiest way to get over this roadblock is to look for options that come with certificates of authenticity. These certificates should ideally be issued by reputable institutions within the U.K.

Storing Football Programmes

Football programmes are made using paper, and the older a programme, the more susceptible it is to damage. What different collectors do with their collections does vary from scenario to scenario. While some collectors like to have their programmes on display, some others choose to keep them hidden away. In either case, collectors do have various storage options from which to choose: some people turn to using A4 ring binders that come with individual plastic leaves; some people use first day cover albums designed for stamp collectors; some choose to buy bespoke folders specially designed for storing football programmes; and some others choose to display them in cases on their walls or in specially crafted cabinets. Irrespective of the chosen alternative, buyers should always make their decision based on purchases that may be made in the future, and not just on their existing collections.

Buying Signed Football Programmes on eBay

eBay offers buyers numerous options when it comes to buying signed football programmes, which include programmes from different periods with many dating back to the pre-1950s. Buyers can expect to find signed football programmes from various competitions, ranging from national league fixtures to even the football World Cup. Buyers should know that the signed football programmes made available on eBay vary by price. The signatures they carry and their rarity are two important factors that go into their pricing.

The advantage of opting to search for signed football programmes made available on eBay is that a significant number of them come with trustworthy certificates of authenticity, which certainly helps. Buyers should also know that different sellers can price their signed football programmes quite differently, given that they follow no set pattern, which is why conducting extensive searches is recommended.

Looking for signed football programmes on eBay is simple; buyers can choose to use their extensive menu system, or simply enter whatever they are looking for into the search box that can be found on each eBay page.


Football programmes have been a staple accompaniment to football matches for well over a century, and that they are now looked upon as collectibles should not come as a surprise. When it comes to rare programmes that are signed, their values increase considerably, not just monetarily, given the connection they provide. Signed football programmes selling for more than 20,000 pounds are certainly not unheard of.

Establishing just what accounts as valuable is not very easy, although most rare programmes do command hefty prices. Pirate programmes, with wrongly credited photos and spelling mistakes, surprisingly, find a significant number of buyers; and programmes of non-league fixtures from the 50s and 60s also find many takers.

Establishing the worth of a signed football programme without the required knowhow is not easy, and this is where a professional appraiser can help. When buying one, it is crucial to pay attention to its authenticity, as this can make all of the difference between money well spent and feeling short changed. Lastly, once an expensive signed football programme is acquired, thinking about getting it insured is not out of place.

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