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Do Premier League clubs need to reconsider ticket price increases?

Thu 11th Feb 2016 | Money & Finance

The cost of match day and season tickets across England has come under scrutiny from numerous fans and supporters’ trusts who believe that football clubs are favouring their own greed and economic wealth over the best interest of those who make the game what it is. Being able to afford tickets has become more difficult than ever before due to the recent financial recession which has created an imbalance between income and expenditure, thus leaving many ardent fans unable to attend football matches. They have argued, however, that the ticket pricing structure, particularly in the Premier League, take football fans for granted, especially when clubs will soon be receiving a share from the broadcasting contracts windfall worth more than £8.3 billion.

It has created a significant breakdown in relationship between football clubs and its fans, with Liverpool finding out the hard way of the considerable unrest that the proposed increase of match day tickets to £77 in the new Main Stand for every game at Anfield will create. Bookies.com may consider Jurgen Klopp’s side as a good bet for a top six finish on the pitch, but with at least 10,000 fans estimated to have walked out during their recent home fixture against Sunderland in protest, it has become clear that Liverpool’s hierarchy must revise their plans in order to keep them onside. The proposed plans risk alienating the loyal and passionate people who create the cauldron-like euphoria within Anfield which makes it one of the most famous stadiums in world football; it is their solidarity and spirit that brought FSG to Liverpool in the first place, but their perceived greed and lack of consideration for those who pay their own hard-earned money to attend matches is an evident foresight that the owners must address.

Liverpool’s redevelopment of Anfield, which includes extending the stadium capacity by an extra 13,000 seats and installing new street lights along Anfield Road, is part of a £260 million scheme to improve the standard of facilities and allow more fans to watch football. Current season and match day ticket prices would create a profit of £2 million, but while it is likely to be considered minimal in this day and age, expecting loyal supporters to cough up more is where the problems begin. Fans should be able to put their hard-earned money towards backing their team on and off the pitch (bookies.com is now on https for those who fancy a flutter and receive the best odds on Liverpool to succeed) and enjoy the match day atmosphere at Anfield without facing extortionate prices that go straight into the pockets of the owners. Maximising revenue in order to counterbalance the redevelopment of Anfield or compete financially with their rivals may make sense from an economical perspective, but expecting fans to shell out in excess of £1,000 to keep their season ticket in the Main Stand is a sign that football is losing touch with the everyday man, woman and child.

It should be noted that the argument over the £77 pricing applies to just 200 seats for six category A matches (usually defined by home fixtures against Manchester United, Everton, etc.) during each season. While chief executive Ian Ayre was quick to point this out amidst the volume of criticism from Liverpool fans, Jamie Carragher and the Football Supporters’ Federation, there will still be thousands of tickets across Anfield that will come at a price between £62 and £75 – an increase from the current highest price of £59. Price increases further fuel the growing calls for affordable prices, particularly when comparisons with other European leagues show that the Premier League is amongst the most expensive. Borussia Dortmund are a prime example of a club that understand the true value of fan culture and how important their support is, with an average ticket price of £11.59 symbolising fantastic value to watch one of the best teams in Europe play; while Dortmund may not enjoy the same economical strength as Liverpool, their ticket pricing structure is a common theme across Germany in their efforts to create wonderful match day atmospheres and put supporters, not their own financial position, first. 

The ticket protest from Liverpool fans may be the only way that supporters can make their voices heard and get owners to see that they are not willing to pay what they consider extortionate prices for football tickets. Voting with their feet ultimately hits the club in the pocket as price increases are likely to result in a decrease in attendance figures, with the extraordinary scenes at Anfield unlikely to be the last. A mass stadium walkout is believed to be on the horizon across England during an entire round of Premier League fixtures as a way for fans to make a real statement of intent; FSF and fans from all 20 top flight teams will convene at a meeting to discuss how to express their anger and counteract mounting costs to watch their beloved team play. Fans understand that football clubs have to look at economic strategies in order to remain competitive on and off the pitch, particularly with the introduction of Financial Fair Play Rules, but when they get hit in the pocket despite the multi-millions of pounds rolling into the sport through broadcasting contracts, it ultimately results in a stand-off that is unlikely to go away.

Image: Reuters / Phil Noble via Action Images

 

 Posted by: Kev Howland

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