Ticket Prices - Have Our Clubs Gone Too Far
Last week was the week that every Football supporter in this country dreads. Not only was it the final week of the football season, it was also the week when most clubs announced their annual ticket price increases and Liverpool were one of the first to do so.
I sat down as I suspect most of you did and studied the announcement that was put onto the club website and began to try and work out if the rise was justified or indeed well thought out. This left me with many answered questions, so rather than write about it straight away, I decided to monitor various websites and debates to gauge the feelings of fellow supporters.
Wherever I looked the answers seemed to be the same, some agreed with the price rises, some did not. Why, because the speed of at which the game is being taken out of the hands of the working man is now gathering pace and very soon we will see stadiums full of corporate clients only. This of course is something that must not be allowed to happen.
Before I go any further here is a list of the increases for both the matchday visitor .
Category A Games These tickets have been increased by £1 for The Kop and £2 for the Anfield Road, Main and Centenary Stands.
Category B Games These tickets have been increased by £2 for all stands.
Category C Games These tickets have been increased by £1 for The Kop and £2 for the Anfield Road, Main and Centenary Stands.
The most expensive ticket will now be £48 for a Category A game e.g. A Centenary stand ticket for the Liverpool - Manchester United game whilst the cheapest ticket would be £39 for a Category C ticket in the Kop for the Liverpool v West Bromwich game.
To soften the blow the club announced that there would be a reduction in the price of children's
The following statement was made by Ian Ayre to accompany these price rises:
"We have taken a considered view on these prices, taking into account of the economy, our ability to compete in a competitive football market and our aspirations for the coming season. Liverpool Football Club is facing growing levels of inflation which increases the cost of goods and services to the Club, as much as any other business. The CPI rate of inflation is currently standing at 4.5% and taking this into account we aimed to align the rise in match day tickets closely to this level only."
"In the case of season tickets, we have also added the revised rate of VAT set by the government which came into force in January 2011. This amounts to an increase of 2.5% since we last issued season tickets in 2010."
"We believe that this rise represents the fairest level of increase we could offer, whilst helping to ensure we maintain our significantly reduced debt position and our aspirations to improve our playing squad. We believe this will allow us to be competitive and maintain our ability to challenge our main competitors, many of whom have significantly higher capacities at this time."
The club also announced that there would be a range of finance options available to help the purchase of season tickets.
Now going back to the matchday prices, maybe I am a little old fashioned but I simply cannot understand why the prices are not the same for each stand, after all we are going to watch the same game of football. It really should not matter at what corner of the ground you are doing that from be the Kop or the Anfield Road.
The exception to the rule here is of course the corporate client, which due to the extra services they receive should pay a higher rate. In fact I would dearly love to know if those prices have indeed been increased.
The Children's ticket is another bug bear of course. The reduced rate, if you can call it that is only applicable in the Anfield Road stand and that child has to be accompanied by an adult. I also believe that £15 is too much to ask for a child. There is no way this will ensure that Anfield will be filled with generations of future football supporters, because if you belong for example to a family that includes four children, that is £60.00 before you add on the price of an Adult ticket for mum and dad. To have to find this money every two weeks is just too much to ask any family to do. These should be price at no more than £5.00.
Within in this category you have to include people like myself who live outside Liverpool and have to also find the cost of travel and a hotel bill. These as I am sure you are also aware have also increased and will be another reason for cutting back visits to Anfield. The club in conjunction with Thomas Cook do have in place match day deals but they are very overpriced and certainly do not give value for money, so are avoided I suspect by the majority of supporters.
Where the season tickets are concerned, I cannot really comment, as I have never had one and looking at the prices now, unless something radical is done to bring them down I doubt that I ever will. The only thing that bothers me about them, is the way the way they are being sold. Why charge a different price if they are purchased at the Ticket Office window. The amount of time it will take for the club to update their systems is the same as when they are purchased online.
The cost of running football stadia of course increases by the year, especially if like an Anfield it is an stadium, that must require more maintenance that normal. There are also of course the added costs of policing the stadium on match days, as well as the stadium and security staff, to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
The argument here of course is, should these costs be passed onto the paying public, when the footballers themselves are paid outrageous monies for kicking a ball around the pitch. Now I have nothing against them earning a decent wage but they need to be brought down to a sensible level. If that happened then perhaps ticket prices would be brought back down to a sensible level.
A lot of clubs in the premiership have built new stadia to ensure that the paying public are given a great match day experience. Unfortunately because bank loans, builders and architects bills have to be paid, this has also pushed up the price of tickets. Arsenal is a great example of this. They have a fantastic new stadium, but to cover the cost of the build, some of the season tickets are now over a thousand pounds.
Liverpool of course, where a stadium is concerned is in no-man's land at the moment. Our owners are doing what I presume to be a feasibility study to decide whether it will be a re-build or indeed a new build. A decision that has to be made very quickly now as the planning permission for Stanley Park will be running out next month. Whatever decision is made of course will again impact on ticket prices and I dread to think what we could be asked to pay next year because it will be one step too far.
As part of the match day experience, a lot of supporters whether they are local or out of towers, also want to purchase merchandise. This of course adds to the amount of funds needed and the club will suffer when the supporter decides that they simply cannot afford it any longer.
Now I have nothing against Ian Ayre, in fact I admire him greatly for the way he helped to save the club last year and appreciate the improvements he has made to the club's marketing side, but I do feel he needs to sit down with his staff and have a serious re-think about how Anfield works out its ticket prices. The club is in the North West of England, where the monies earned are less than those down south so the club's ticket prices should be set to reflect this. At the moment they appear to be spiralling out of control as the club tries to catch with their rivals and personally I feel that very soon the bubble is going to burst and clubs will wonder where the ordinary working man has gone.
Or has it reached the point, where they would rather see the corporate client, who nine times out of ten, is at the game simply because it is a perk from his employer, not because he is a footballer supporter. A football supporter who should be in the ground, screaming, shouting and singing at the team loves.