I’m struggling to come to terms with all this faux outrage about escalating prices for EPL tickets. I get it from the fans protest point of view, but not from so many commentators, pundits and journalists alike.
By Matty Lawrence
Guess what? Owners of football clubs are predominantly greedy businessmen. Very, very few (and becoming fewer by the season) have bought into their clubs for the love of the game, or, seemingly any understanding of the beautiful game we love. Owners are not fans, and it is becoming blatantly apparent that they don’t really care about the fans either.
This isn’t a particularly new phenomenon, it has been creeping into the game since the English Premier League formed in 1992 and began with the 1992/93 season. (A large number of people seem blissfully unaware, or have tried to erase from their memories, the decades of football that pre-dated that inaugural EPL season. That, though, is a history lesson for another time and place.)
Football, like any other business, because that is all it is nowadays, is simply a medium to grow the brand, exploit the customer (yes, that’s you and I, the ‘fans’) and maximise profits. Ta dah!!
C’mon, it’s a tale as old as time..dating back centuries to the Kings and Queens and landowners taxing their minions, their underlings, their people. Rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This time, the customer, sorry fan, has to explain to these football owners that they have bitten off more than they can chew. This explanation that I speak of has to be swift, well-managed and relentless.
The football fan must refuse to be unfairly ‘taxed.’
Fans/customers voices will not be heard: the removal of his feet from the stands, stadia and merchandise outlets around the country will be. The silence must not only be deafening, but also threatening.
This phenomenon began in the 77th minute of Liverpool FC’s last home game against Sunderland. With the redevelopment of Anfield in full-swing, the owners, Fenway Sports Group, released the new raft of prices for the new stand in the 2016/17 season.
The top price was a whopping £77. Hence, the mass walkout of thousands of fans in the 77th minute. Liverpool were 2-0 up at that juncture. That game finished 2-2!!..this was partially due to Simon Mignolet forgetting to put his hands in his gloves, and a large part due to the mass withdrawal of that support.
The Anfield crowd, as with many crowds around the country (sorry, around the world), have been seen as the 12th man. The 12th man withdrew and Liverpool conceded two. Coincidence? Methinks not. Fortunately for Liverpool fans, the owners saw sense and backtracked on their plan (see press release at the end of this column) **. This has to be the tip of the iceberg, though.
The relatively minimal protest of Liverpool fans, with 13 minutes remaining in last weekends match, sent shockwaves through the Liverpool hierarchy. Fenway Sports Group immediately sat up and took notice and felt it imperative to address this issue.
Even Jurgen Klopp, the Liverpool manager, felt the necessity to take his eyes off the playing staff, training ground and tactics, to speak about the matter. Klopp stated the clubs owners were ‘working on a solution that would ensure there were no more demonstrations.’
While the owners of EPL clubs are revelling in their £8.3 billion TV deal windfall, they are still willing to fleece the fans who are the lifeblood of the game. In every facet of his beloved league the fan is being treated as a customer and getting ripped off. Royally, bloody ripped off!
From ticket prices, to travel costs for away games, to inflated drink and food prices in the stadium – and don’t even get me started on the clubs merchandise.
Okay, do get me started.
The price of replica jerseys alone is a scandal. Cobbled together in some far flung country for approximately 10p a jersey (possibly, legal ed) and rolled out in the club shop for anything north of £50. And heaven forbid you want a name and number on the back. Best hit the bank to get your house remortgaged!
I’m going to digress slightly, but last weekend I had the privilege of looking around the Bernabeu Stadium (‚¬20), bought a hot dog and beer (‚¬10) in the middle of the tour and got directed through the club shop before we were allowed to exit. I bought my little lad a scarf (‚¬22) and just grabbed a passing glimpse at a pre-printed no.7 Ronaldo home shirt.
Holy shit, it was ‚¬101. I want Ronaldo in the shirt for that exorbitant amount. And, yet, they were selling these shirts by the barrow load..on a non-match day, on a cold Sunday in February.
The profits from the Real Madrid club shop alone must be the GDP of a small developing nation. I know it is life. I know it is the capitalist society we live in. Yes I know, I know, I know. And I can just about handle getting bent over and firmly buggered by our Government at every turn, but leave our beloved game of football alone.
Enough is enough and it is time football fans united and told these capitalist, scum-bag, football club owners that they won’t be taken for granted any longer.
** In between writing this and going to press the Fenway Sports Group revealed a change of heart in their previously announced ticket prices for the 2016-17 season. The Liverpool fans have shown everybody that the wind of change is upon us. Fans can make a difference and their actions will be heard.