Image Credit: Vincent Teeuwen//Flickr
So it has been approximately a week or so since Liverpool Football Club, one of the UK’s most successful teams, announced that they would be charging fans up to £77 for a match day ticket – as well as increasing season ticket prices to over £1,000.
Most football followers will know that Liverpool have a trophy-laden history and are renowned for their famous atmosphere at their home ground Anfield, particularly in the Kop end.
But with the prices being increased as they are, the Reds’ hierarchy are running the risk of tarnishing a great relationship between the club and the huge fan base.
Of course some supporters will still attend matches despite the cost, simply because they can afford it or because they are die-hard followers of the team they love.
However, for others it is not so easy, this is why a Liverpool fan group known as Spion Kop 1906 are trying to organise a form of protest during their home game against Sunderland on Saturday 6th of February.
The group are urging fans that are attending the fixture to walk out on the 77th minute, in order to show that they are against the idea; supporters not customers.
The group Tweeted: “Saturday is your chance to make your feelings known. Unhappy with the prices for next season? Then #WalkOutOn77
“77 – a number associated with @LFC. From Rome ’77 to £77 a ticket. Let’s give the number 77 a meaning on Saturday. #walkouton77”
This isn’t a jibe at Liverpool as a club by any means, it’s a jibe at what football is becoming – a huge business.
They aren’t the only club to charge excessively for match day tickets, Arsenal have charged Category A (Manchester United, Chelsea etc.) fans £62-£64 a ticket for the last few years.
The sport used to be known as the workingman’s game, now we’re seeing crippling increases in ticket prices, television rights being bought for over £5 billion and over £1 billion being spent on player transfers in a season.
The once working class game has turned its back on the working class core of fans, pricing them out of matches with extortionate increases; mainly at Premier League level.
As a student, we are a prime example of who else will be pushed away from going to matches because we simply can’t afford tickets and travel.
Young people who live away to study already find money hard to come by, spending their loans on rent for accommodation and living costs such as food and drink.
I have friends at my University [of Central Lancashire] who are Liverpool fans. Living in Preston has put them closer to their team and has given them a better opportunity of making more games.
Ryan Kirk was born in Leeds and had lived in Yorkshire all of his life before crossing the Pennines for university, and has followed Liverpool as much as he possibly could.
But with the ticket prices being raised and the need for train money or petrol money to be spent travelling to the stadium for a match, it just isn’t practical for him on top of his living costs.
He said to me: “This week, Liverpool Football Club revealed that some ticket prices will rise to a staggering £77 by the start of the 2016/17 Premier League season. For me personally and the majority of other Liverpool supporters, this is unbelievably frustrating.”
“I’m currently living in Preston, where I study Sports Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire. That is just over an hour away from Liverpool on the train, which adds up to around £12 in travel money.”
“As a student, I’m already paying enough money as it is for my rent and shopping each week. No way do I fancy purchasing a £77 ticket to watch my team play when, at the moment, we aren’t even challenging for the league title or Champions League football,” he added.
“If I was to purchase one of these tickets, it would most likely cost me around £100 in total for the day, including travel fees, food and drink and then of course the initial ticket. The club is earning enough money as it is. We’re supporters, not customers. Things need to change quickly.”
The so-called workingman’s sport continues to grow financially, reaching an economic standard that many thought the likes of Sky Sports, BT Sport and the Premier League itself could not and would not achieve.
And to be honest, it has become quite farcical. The spirit of the game is losing its touch because the sport has become Americanised, it is marketed like a business so that the bigwigs can fill their pockets.
It has to come to an end at some point, but the question is when will it?
A walkout protest could be the least of the wealth’s worries, because if this continues and greed consistently comes first then fans will ultimately be driven away from the sport and club they love.
Fans will refuse to pay the prices and the clubs will lose revenue, just remember that football without fans is nothing.
Kieran Makin is a Wigan lad currently studying Sports Journalism and the University of Central Lancashire. I basically watch football, eat food and drink beer – I could probably chew your ear off about rugby league and boxing too.