Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go will there be trouble?
If I stay will there be double?
So, do I or don’t I?
Before we cover that, lets set a scene. Granted that whatever is painted is done with the brush of the artist, therefore it’s what I want you to see. That bias I cannot remove, such is the way of the world but hopefully by the end we all have food for thought regarding all that is going on.
Ticket prices are changing. Depending on where you sit, some will be heavily impacted and others may see things go down or up slightly. Season ticket holders are in or out of pocket and members who qualify for bulk sales are going to enter the gunfight for the Kop seats that haven’t really been affected. Everybody else will have to pay more on the face of this, give or take a few rows around the ground in other stands.
There has been much in the way of effort to try and get ticket prices to come down. We’ve taken a lot of hits along the way and just accepted them and continually sleepwalked into each change. Premier League matches can cost £50 and above, but the corresponding League Cup fixture against the same team is half that price (Chelsea away springs to mind… twice!). What do we do? We take it because the club know we will take it. They know that our emotional connection to need to see the team play is like a drug and we are like junkies. They know it and love it. They must do; they know how to push the buttons like nobody else.
Hence, they push another button. The multi-coloured one that changes seats, categories and tiers into a rainbow with a pot of gold at the end for Liverpool Football Club. Once again those emotions are challenged and the drug seems to be getting away from us. Like junkies, we clamour again to cling on to the very thing we’ve expected to be ok; getting a ticket to go to the game. I must add, it’s not a privilege to be able to get a ticket. Season ticket holders or members that have the ability to go to a match and balance that with the cost every single time going home or away.
Members tickets: it’s a right royal pain if the truth be told. Members sales are littered with tales of frustration and woe. Away days are near impossible to get a foot in the door of and European matches away are worse still. We still do it. We still cry and emotionally drain ourselves twice a year and see the money leave. Now more will leave and an online system more frail than Liverpool hamstrings leave us at the peril of baskets unfulfilled. The sting in the tail will be at the end of the whole process, post the aforementioned turmoil, only this time it will cost more. More because someone says so. More because you know you’ll do it somehow. More because they know that too.
Let’s think for a while though. What if you can’t pay more? What if each season you’ve gone through the whole twice yearly process to buy home games and already know it was hard? I suspect if you rang up to complain you’d get through to the following automated message after “you have been charged for this call”.
“Thank you for calling Liverpool Football Club, your call is important to us. Should you wish to buy tickets please don’t press one. You previously pressed two to register your dismay at the price increases. Liverpool Football Club wishes to inform you that you can’t come if you can’t pay. You can’t pay so you can’t go. You may have come for many years and now will cry many tears but…
... You. Can’t. Come. Please hang up and try again later.”
But what can you try for? Category C, because you’re worth it? The auto-cup scheme is no longer your friend either with price changes so the marketplace for tickets is no longer a place where you’re welcome. What do you do? You’re alone it seems because “I’m Alright, Jack” from Anywheretown can go but not you. Isn’t football supposed to be affordable for all?
“Don’t like the prices? Don’t buy,” I hear them say. Please allow me to explain. Habitually, people have been going to matches for a very long time. Even before memberships and fan cards came along. From near and far, I’d like to add, before someone pops along with any localised references here. Ask yourself this – does someone who’s been going for the last 10/20/30 years deserve to feel unwelcome now? Do we just go “soz abaar you” because they haven’t got the money? Does that feel good to do that to your comrade? The Liverpool I’ve come to know and love excluded no one and I should know this more than many. I’ve experienced looking and being different all my life! I’ve never felt more at home than sitting with those who love supporting our club through thick and thin.
“But think of the cheaper seats,” I hear them say. Again, how many are there? Refer back to turmoil of online sales. Add turmoil of a world renowned ticket office that tells us things later rather than earlier. Add more turmoil when it dawns upon us all that there aren’t a lot of these seats and robbing Peter to pay Paul didn’t actually happen. Both Peter and Paul have been fleeced!
“We need it to be competitive,” I hear someone heckle. Well, that’s worked. A while back, I wrote that for all the off-field progress in revenue streams, we’ve not seen that translate to performances on the pitch. The internet is full of rage these days of persons pitted against players then pitted against each other and then the beauty of this rage manifests itself in the almighty Twitter poll (or RT for x and like for y). Something is wrong in all that. A preaching of hate to cure hate doesn’t really work I guess.
“We need to move with the times”. Yup. Ok. No. Have you seen what these times may lead to? I’m leaving economics aside as I’m sure by the time you finish reading this we’ll have someone else as our new preferred car battery supplier. These times you talk of have resulted in half and half scarves, staff to fly flags and don’t get me started on things-left-on-seats-for-you-as-you-arrive novelties. We are unique and just like lyrics we’ve heard before, we see things they’ll never see. Our times have been expressed on a Kop ebbing away. Already rinsed by photography and marketing material, it’s a surprise they haven’t attempted getting sponsor logos as banners. Could you imagine it? Bob Paisley’s huge flag in the middle of the Kop with “sponsored by Burger King” brandished somewhere. We’d become Home of the Whopper indeed!
What’s all this got to do with the boycott then? Well, everything. By changing the dynamic of what comes to the game, now we shape the future. Is where we are now really where we want to be? Do you really think everything that you see around you is because of Out of Towners vs Locals and atmosphere on its arch due to that? It really isn’t. It’s probably more akin to the fact that should you not be able to afford the current prices then you can’t go. You’ve been priced out a long time ago or are soon to be priced out. You, who had been going for such a long time. You, who have experienced highs and lows. You, who’s been brought up on Liverpool Football Club. You, who’s been let down by the ones next to you?
It’s not survival of the fittest here, folks. WE are Liverpool Football Club. From the regulars who trek over four hours week in week out to get home or away, to the first-timer drawn to the Kop and “that” atmosphere. The very atmosphere that’s being served notice because, mark my words, when you make it so that it’s not affordable for all, then it soon becomes nothing to see at all. We’ve taken stances before against all odds and won. We owe it to all those who are impacted to be as one with them. I’ve heard many say this won’t have an impact. We won’t know until we try. You may read this and think that so long as you can afford it, you’re ok or you’re not impacted as you don’t go enough to be. The truth is, it’s not a time to be thinking of just yourself.
You may be someone going for the first time and this makes leaving even harder. I hear you. My first time was magic. I wouldn’t want anyone to feel any different about their first time to Anfield. I would say this though. This may be your only time. For someone else it’s already become a last time, and it happened without us realising too late. What if that person was you?
Whatever happens tomorrow no-one should be chastised for staying. Emotions are a difficult thing. Hopefully, the next time the spirit grows, and we’ll remember that even the great Kenny Dalglish said “...we are a stronger force if we stick together“.