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Premier League Ticket Price Fiasco: Fans or Customers?

TAGs: liverpool, Premier League

After an estimated 10,000 Liverpool fans left their seats during their home game with Sunderland over the club’s announcement that they were raising ticket prices, Lee Davy trawls through the rubble and believes it all boils down to one question: are they fans or customers?

Who is your idol?

Premier League Ticket Price Fiasco: Fans or Customers?I assume you have many. I do. They change as we change. When I was nine years old, my idol was Manchester United and England captain Bryan Robson. I shook his hand the day United opened the Family Stand. Panini were the sponsors. United gave me a free program, free sticker book, and Bryan Robson signed them both with my free pen. Over three decades later I met him again. I interviewed him actually. He hadn’t aged one bit.

There were two reasons I was in that stand on that particular day. The first was my Man of the Match display for 7th Reddish. We beat New Mills away – a journey that always made me puke in my Kwik Save carrier bag – I scored one and hit the crossbar with a header from outside the box. As a reward, the manager took me to watch United. The second reason I was there was because my manager could afford to take me. The ticket cost less than three quid.

On the weekend, an estimated 10,000 fans walked out of Anfield in the 77th minute in anger over ticket price increases for home games that saw the top price reach £77. Had my manager taken me to watch United today, he would have had to fork out between £30-40 for him, and £20-25 for me. That simply wouldn’t have happened.

A few days ago I wrote an article entitled Wolfsburg Sign Pro eSports Player; Will eSports Gambling One Day Outstrip Physical Sports? In that article, I pointed out that our children’s lack of interest in watching football, preferring to watch/play FIFA on the PlayStation, was not only detrimental to our game, but to their overall health.

I want to change my mind in the wake of the Anfield protest.

I am glad my kid doesn’t want to watch football.

I couldn’t afford it if he did.

My mate Steve likes to watch United. A few weeks ago he traveled on the train with a few of his buddies. His match ticket cost £40; he paid another £50 to take the train. I guess he spent a few grand on booze. Then there is the hotel. The money he probably lost playing poker. A meat and potato pie or sixteen – you get my point. (The train broke down on the return journey, and they had to hire a coach!). A few months before that he took his wife and kid. That’s over £100 in match tickets before he even leaves the house.

A few years after my meeting with Captain Marvel, my cousin Craig was a season ticket holder at United. I remember him refusing to watch them because they increased the price of a season ticket to £200. Instead, he decided to become a Stockport County fan. I thought he was mad. How could you change your team? He wasn’t mad. He was a man who didn’t like the fact his club was treating him like a customer instead of a fan.

Sound familiar Liverpool fans customers?

The Numbers

Premier League clubs often cite an ever-increasing player wage bill when it comes to match ticket price hikes. It was great listening to TalkSport the other night when Stan Collymore, a former Premiership footballer, pointed out that the new television deal covers the wage bill so that excuse should drop by the wayside.

It won’t. Nor it should. Player’s salaries are obscene, and all those digits will be on that balance sheet.

The 20 clubs fortunate to be in the Premier League for the next three seasons will receive their portion of a new TV deal set to be worth £8.3 billion. A variety of news report suggests each club will get a minimum of £100 million with the winners picking up £150 million.

If you want to travel to the likes of Man United, West Ham, Chelsea or Arsenal, you will be forking out upwards of £50 per ticket. Arsenal will charge you £64. The Gunners also possess the most expensive home ticket priced at £97, and the most expensive season ticket priced at £2,013 – that’s more than a family holiday.

You can watch Bayern Munich for £11.

The Plan

Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) Chairman, Malcolm Clarke, has spoken to numerous newspapers about the reluctance of the Premier League clubs to cut a deal that would cap away ticket prices at £30. It’s thought the likes of United, City, Chelsea, West Ham, and Spurs failed to approve the move thus preventing the two-thirds majority needed to push the vote through when the various parties last met.

The same faces will sit down for another pow-wow next month. After the Liverpool walk out, I assume things will change. An alternative option could be for all 20 clubs to increase the £200,000 they contribute to the Away Supporters Initiative to provide subsidised travel for fans like Steve.

David Cameron is even getting in on the act.

During Prime Minister’s Questions he responded to the issue, raised by Labour’s Clive Efford, by stating:

“I will look very carefully at the suggestion the honourable gentleman makes because I think there is a problem here when some clubs put up prices very rapidly every year, even though so much of the money for football actually comes from sponsorship, equipment and other sources so I’ll look very carefully at what he says.”

Football has always been a working man’s game. Today, we have businessman prices.

The solution?

I have no idea.

Nothing will change too much if the clubs continue to treat their fans as customers.

It’s not an easy one.

Reading through the tons of stories throughout the web, it seems there are thousands of people in the waiting line for a £2k Arsenal season ticket. This year has seen attendances at live matches rise again. How can the clubs take these threats seriously when demand for their product is so high?

It reminds me of the PokerStars fiasco. The club/site does what they want because they can. All the fans can do is organize a walkout, only to see their seat taken by someone else.

I know one thing for sure.

My kid won’t be watching Man Utd, or any other Premier League side, anytime soon.

Thankfully, he doesn’t want to.

What do you think is the best approach?

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