My sympathies lie with the Liverpool fans who demonstrated last Saturday against the £77 highest ticket price. That most of the tickets had not risen and this is the price of a best seat was significantly lower than London Premier prices was not so much the issue as the reluctance of clubs awash with cash with more to come in the new deal to pass any benefit to supporter who now feel they are customers.
That is was Liverpool fans was all the more significant. They are known for the fervour of their support. In their hey day opponents froze as they walked down the steps onto the pitch under the banner “This is Anfield” and heard the roar of the Kop. In other clubs you often read in the programme the support being valued but clubs do little if anything to earn it. Liverpool were two up when 10,000 fans walked out and the game finished 2-2. It’s manifest that support does make a crucial difference in home advantage.
I canvassed our football reporters for their views.
Alan Tanner commented:
“Al Fayed was very fair on prices. I was paying £700 for a season with a good seat a Riverside Stand. My beef now is the number of seats round me occupied by football tourists. We have lost much of the camaraderie. I even had a couple of Derby fans making snide comments beside me. I do sympathise with Liverpool though not by the class warriors stuff that the working class supporter is paying business prices. The supporter of any background has been marginalised by high prices, constantly changing kick off times (only 3 weeks notice was given of Arsenal v Leicester) and clubs should share their wealth with loyal supporters by keeping prices sensible not just lining the pockets of agents and paying absurd salaries to players.”
“It’s some time since Brighton have been in the top flight. However it’s possible and season ticket prices have increased modestly. So I can’t say fans have been mistreated. We have 24,000 season tickets and are the best supported team in the Championship. Quite something with the likes of Derby, Hull, Sheffied Wednesday, Leeds, Ipswich and Middlesbrough. I think our policy is fair but I agree that in the Premier league they are pushing the envelope as much as they dare.”
“Italian prices have traditionally been much higher but our clubs have much less commercial income. Very few own their stadium as there are no boxes or corporate sections. Prices depend on the quality of the opposition. We expect them to be high but the business model is different.”
The interesting thing will be if other club supporters adopt walkouts. It’s very effective as the tv paymasters won’t like matches with no atmosphere as the this is an important ingredient of English football and one which makes global selling of rights all the more easy and lucrative. Players won’t like it as they need that encouragement from support. The press ran no campaign but are giving the story a reasonably high profile . Agents won’t care and owners and executives now should.