The 2013/2014 season will see Premier League TV revenues top £5billion for the first time. Football as we know, is huge business and is well and truly breaking the current economic trends.
But what about the fans wallets, will we benefit?
The Football Supporters Federation last week highlighted that the impact the extra TV money will have on clubs would mean each ticket in the Premier League next season could be reduced by £32 each. Average Anfield home game sees just shy of 45000 tickets sold which would mean an extra £1.42m per game, or an extra £27m per 19 home game season.
How to use that £27m per season?
Well there are 3 plausible options, which will strongly divide opinion depending on your viewpoint:
- Reduce the tickets by £32 each, meaning home games would range from £7 to £16 based on this seasons prices.
- Use the £27m to buy a player and pay his wages for the season, for example a player could cost £10m to buy, £7m in sign on and agents fees and the remaining £10m on his salary, bonuses and other associated costs.
- Split the money between player purchases and ticket price reduction, at 50/50 this would be £13.5m on a player fee or towards wages (not forgetting we do have other income streams) and ticket prices dropping by £16 each, so ticket prices would now be £23 to £32 per game.
So who will vote for each option? We don’t need a vote the answer is fairly obvious, local working class Reds will vote option 1, the people who couldn’t find Anfield on a map but that once in a life time when they do come they bring a camera and wonder what’s going on vote for option 2, and finally the more clued up people who occasionally go to a game would vote option 3.
Henry & Werner, I add, would vote for option 2, it keeps more money in their back pocket and they have a preference for the once in a life time fans because they spend an awful lot in the club shop and hot dog stands during their visit and are all about the “match day experience”. Which leads me on to my next point, atmosphere.
I could very easily wax lyrical about the times when our atmosphere was adored by Reds and feared by everyone else, Didi Hamann recently said during the Chelsea Semi Final prior to lifting number 5, the fans were that good it brought him to tears and physically won us the game.
Today though, a magical, touching atmosphere at Anfield is a rare find, the best in recent memory for me is the Man City Semi, I walked home that night it was electrifying I don’t think I slept for about a week, it occasionally hits decent heights in the Europa league games too. But if we’re playing 15 of our 19 competitors in the league then Anfield, sadly, is not what it once was. Stoke at home the past 2 years I’ve nearly cried. It hurts when they sing “where’s your famous atmosphere?” now, because it has actually gone, it’s like a library at times. Why?
That’s a rhetorical why of course, I argue that it’s because the fan base at Anfield has changed a lot in recent times. In years gone by Anfield was full of local lads, hardworking lads who love going the match because it’s their passion, to support their local team, its tribal, or at least it was.
Anfield now is, and those of you who go to the games will testify to this, a different place. You get certain sections who’s only vocal input is “sort it out will you Downing you mug”, which quite frankly you can do from the comfort of your own living room. Then you get the overseas fans, who god bless but them are too drunk to sing along even if they knew the words, and then you get sporadic locals, there’s still the core in the upper central Kop, but they’re ageing and tired, but mostly the locals are spread out, and if you dared start a song in the Main Stand you get looked at as though you’ve just tickled your nans best mates backside.
What we need to bring in, is a ticket tier system based on a core of local, young, enthusiastic lads who will bring the noise and support the team. At this point I realise a lot will be saying “pfft why?” well quite simply because that noise can, and did for so many years, win us the game; it really is the twelfth man, and we need it back.
My proposal therefore is to offer the tickets to those based in the Merseyside area first, then any that are not bought can be sold to those further afield.
Now I appreciate we are a global club, but you need to understand the impact a true atmosphere can have, remember all those draws last season? A true Anfield atmosphere turns them into wins. The world wide fans have a place in our club, we need them too, but we need a local heartbeat first.
A shining example
Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund or any other decent German team for that matter have got the right idea.
Bayern Season Ticket is under £100, this is genuine. They have players like Ribery and Robben who both earn over £150,000 per week; they pay very good wages, yet have incredibly small ticket prices which also include free return travel. So are they a club in trouble? No they are the most financially stable club in Europe.
Anyone who has watched German football will tell you they have a magnificent atmosphere. So how is this possible? They have fan ownership, largely by locals from the Munich area, the money is spent wisely, and it is something FSG should look to emulate. Oh and they narrowly missed out on last year’s Champions League due to Chelsea parking the bus, not bad eh?
To finish, I’d like to say that I see atmosphere as crucial to success, I feel it is local, hard working, passionate fans that can bring this winning atmosphere back to the club, and finally I think we should vote for option 3, reducing the ticket prices by £16 and investing the rest on players.