Rising Ticket Prices, FSG and Atmosphere
The Spirit of Shankly group released a statement on Monday 1st February stating the owners of Liverpool FC, Fenway Sports Group, “had chosen to increase prices (of tickets) for many”. When this was happening wasn’t disclosed and the price hike is yet to be confirmed, but £70 seems to be the touted price on social media.
Currently a tier 1 Category A game for an adult is £59; these are seats in the Centenary or the Main Stand against the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Spurs, Everton and Chelsea. At the moment, if you attend these six matches it costs you £354, but if the ticket prices go up to the rumoured fee of £70 then to attend these six matches it will set you back £420.
From April 2016, people aged 25 and over will be on the national living wage in England (£7.20 per hour) meaning if you did a 40 hour week before tax and National Insurance contributions your annual salary will be £13,824. If you’re between the ages of 21 and 24 the minimum wage is £6.70 (annual salary of £12,864), and those aged between 18 and 20 are on £5.30 per hour (annual salary of £10,176).
Liverpool is a working class city and Liverpool FC are supposedly a working class club, so how is it acceptable that attending 10 home matches, the six from Category A games and four random ones from Category B, could set you back close to £700 just for tickets? Are we really at the stage where going to a game, having a drink and some food will see you spend close to £100?
I know plenty of Liverpool fans that aren’t in the financial position to be paying that sort of money regularly so they won’t be going as frequently. They’ll have been priced out of going through no fault of their own and yet you’ll get dickheads on Twitter belittling their football opinion because ‘they don’t go the game’.
Locals being priced out of going the game will damage the club in the short term, but it will be young locals being priced out of going that will damage the club in the long term. The atmosphere at Anfield is already nearing extinction. As extreme as this may sound, if you take away the soul of the club, you’re left with nothing but a shell with a lot of history. It would still be Anfield of course, but it wouldn’t be the famous Anfield. It won’t feel like home.
Is increasing the ticket prices really worth that?
Plenty on social media seem to think it’s easy. If you can’t afford it then don’t go, because giving up a habit of a lifetime is easy, right?
If you want these top players you all shout for on Twitter then you have to pay for them. Very true. But do you see a Marco Reus at Liverpool? Do you see Luis Suarez in the training pictures? Is Paul Pogba leaning on things at Melwood in training gear? The current highest earner at Liverpool is James Milner. It’s not like the team is littered with stars and the crowd is being entertained every single week, is it? As much as you love the club, you pay to be entertained. When the price is increasing and those special moments are becoming few and far between, it doesn’t add up.
I believe I was lucky enough to buy my girlfriend some Adele tickets for Christmas. The price made my eyes water but the concert will be close to three hours long, she’s next to the stage, the atmosphere will be good, she’s definitely going to be entertained and she’s guaranteed to remember it. If Liverpool’s tickets go to the rumoured £70 mark then they won’t be that much less than the Adele tickets. As a fan, you’re paying close to what it costs to see a global superstar (I think) without the guarantees of being entertained, enjoying yourself and it being memorable. Grim when you think of it like that.
I dare say fans aren’t naive and they realise ticket prices will always rise but with the new TV deal starting is it really necessary to fleece fans for that extra £11 per game? Match day revenue looks good on the books though when potential buyers are doing their due diligence. It’s not like the product on display is blowing us all away, is it? Seventh place finishes are becoming the norm.
People will mention how it’s all based on supply and demand; demand for tickets at Liverpool is always high because the club is supported globally. If local fans stop buying tickets then it just means the likes of Thomas Cook can offer more package deals. FSG will always have bums on seats.
“But they need to finance the new stand, you can’t not increase prices when everybody else is.” Ah yes, because the club definitely aren’t going to have that stand sponsored when it’s finished, are they?
“Yeah, but Arsenal did it and look how much their tickets are!” Firstly, Liverpool isn’t in London. Bringing London prices to the North won’t work and it’s not a template that should be replicated. Secondly, Arsenal built a new stadium, Liverpool have extended a single stand. It’s a bit like you’re asking fans to pay for more fans to be able to go the game?
All of this leads to even more question marks being cast over the FSG ownership. Like a lot of Liverpool FC related things, FSG seem to split the fan base. Many are still indebted to them for saving us in 2011 and seem to give them the benefit of the doubt about everything time and time again. The other half seem to view them as nothing more than caretaker owners who bought low, increased the value of the asset and will sell for a huge profit. Fans are expected to put their hands in their pockets to pay extra whilst FSG coast along only really spending big after selling a player? Fans often hear about all these new sponsorship deals that have been signed but is this money transferred onto the pitch? It’s easy to say FSG have backed their managers, but is it not fair to say they’ve recouped an awful lot of money?
FSG as owners is hotly contested, but with the news of the price increase many pro FSG supporters are reevaluating their stance. Supporters aren’t cash cows. In the billion pound game that football is, should fans be paying even more than they already are?