Football trivia of all types have become increasingly popular over the last few decades. For those of us who collect football programmes, there are plenty of reasons why it’s a great activity to do. Not only does it give an insight into the history of the game, those programmes can also give a good return on investment.

If you make the right choices, of course.

Unfortunately, forgeries and fakes can be found on the market with more and more regularity. With the advent of online selling sites like eBay, it’s become much easier to reach out to people and dupe them with fake programmes.

Here’s our quick guide for what to look out for:

Watch for Reprints

You may think you’re getting an original, but it might simply be a reprint. Take the 1966 World Cup Final, for instance. The programmes for this event have been reprinted the most and lots of people who thought they were getting an original have been conned.

Some people say that the quality of the ciggie ads is a giveaway in these reproductions. This used to be the case before the advent of laser printing. You get much better-quality and more sophisticated forgeries today, a lot better than you used to.

Here’s what people in the know say: The 1966 final programme was actually printed in two sections. The middle part was done later because the printers simply didn’t know who was going to be playing on the day. That means for an original, bona fide programme, the two sections have slightly different quality papers. You can only really find this out by actually physically handling it so be very wary if you are buying online.

If you compare both an original programme from this time and a reproduction, you can feel the difference in weight. The centre pages are also slightly darker than the outer pre-printed ones.

Spotting Reprints is Becoming More Difficult

Reprints are a big problem in the world of football programme collecting and it pays to have your wits about you. If you are a novice, it can be easy to end up with a dud rather than a true programme. As you get more experience and grow your collection, however, you begin to notice the tell-tale signs.

Still, even long-time collectors can be fooled. The trouble is that with better printing technology it’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference. There’s a plethora of reprint 1973 European Cup Final programmes out there at the moment, for example, which are only really identifiable from the plastic packaging. A big issue with this is that this practice can affect the cost of programmes and they are unlikely to rise in value if you are buying them as an investment.

Some people reprint football programmes and sell them as such. We have no problem with that, of course. All too many, however, try to pass these off as original. Some are easy to spot and you can sometimes tell from the paper and print quality that things are not quite right.

Our advice is to build a relationship with a seller you can trust if you want to build your collection of original football programmes, do as much research as you can and prepare to get it wrong once in a while.