Why not Collect Football Memorabilia and Make Yourself a Mint?

You heard it here first, the craze around football memorabilia is making a comeback! And, whilst interest seems to be reigniting, many fans now aren’t sure of what to look for and how much items they already own could be worth.

With this guide below, we’ll take a look at which editions have sold for the most money and offer some advice on how to get started collecting rare footie programs today…   

What are the origins of the football match program?

Football history will tell you that the first football program was published in 1888, not long after the Football League launched. Unlike today, the aim of a program was to keep score and it was made up of a single sheet detailing the teams and match date.

Did you know… the Villa News and Record for Aston Villa was one of the first program released? Soon after, the football program 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 program that clubs could produce — making any that were released very collectible today.

Pocket sized football programs are what fans will fondly remember years ago, but these days most match program are larger and A4 in size. From a single sheet of basic info, the availability of saddle stitched and a growth in popularity turned football programs into thick, glossy books crammed with trivia, statistics and high-resolution photos that fans loved to buy before every match.

Today’s programmes allow readers to learn more about players on a specific team, whilst at the same time – act as a mouthpiece for the club in question, allowing managers and players to speak to fans via interviews and club statements.

What’s a fair price to pay out for an old programme?

The price of programmes can vary greatly and there are collectors out there who spend a lot of money on some 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.

One that will go down in history… New Bond Street auctioned the oldest-known programme 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.

What makes a football programme valuable?

It’s a given, that football programmes are a significant part of a match day, but just how collectable are they? It’s been said 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!

Read reports online and you’ll discover that the 1966 England vs West Germany is worth a lot more though. 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.

Take note that cancelled game programmes can be highly valuable 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.

Top tips to remember when building your collection:

Use the following key pointers, to help secure a good deal:

  • 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.

Also, do remember that 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 top quality foamex signs, they specialise in promotional and office print services for small and large businesses.


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