The Anfield Wrap Powered by Red Touch Media

Podcast // Magazine // Radio Show // Web App // Contributors // Partners // Donate

THE FOOD HERE IS TERRIBLE, AND THE PORTIONS ARE TOO SMALL

by Steve Graves // 6 July 2012 // 9 Comments

Download the latest TAW digital magazine FREE iOS app for iPad, iPhone, iPod TouchDownload the latest TAW digital magazine FREE web app for PC, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile
Lovefollowconquer

The Euros are over, the fixture list’s out and Brendan Rodgers has finally had chance to meet a few of the players.

There’s no denying we’re now firmly in pre- rather than post-season. Football matches, proper serious football matches, are fast approaching.

We have a new manager, a new philosophy, a blank canvas.

It’s the blankness that’s killing me. Having been broadly in favour of a change of manager, and hugely enthused by the man we’ve appointed, I’m now wondering if I was horribly misguided.

For what, right now, can I write about? With no solid evidence to go on we can only make presumptions about arrivals and departures, playing style and realistic expectations.

Aside from a general sense that this could be extremely exciting, there’s not much to build on right now.

So let’s talk about food. It’s a conversation worth having.

As it stands, the food on offer in the concourse kiosks for general ticket-holders at Anfield feels like a huge missed opportunity.

The idea, such as it is, seems to be that the kiosks offer traditional fare. Pies, crisps and tea, with hot dogs providing a dash of the exotic.

In many ways perhaps this is to the club’s credit. This is football food, in the raw (although not – quite – literally).

The prices too, though not always what you might term reasonable, are not exorbitant.

Offering affordable food inside the ground’s a good thing, yeah?

No. I don’t actually think it is. Not for the football club, nor for the community around it.

The current food available and the prices it’s served at are a miserable compromise. A grab for the lowest common denominator which can only offer diminishing returns.

As John Henry pointed out in his recent reply to the Anfield Wrap’s questions, revenue per seat is an important consideration, particularly if we are to stay at Anfield.

Now food concessions might be a drop in that particular ocean, but it’s hard to see how the current menu is helping the long-term goal of making cash from match-goers who need to be increasingly monied even to afford to make it through the turnstiles.

Does anyone buy two pies? A pie and a hot dog? Maybe some do, but offering such a paltry selection hardly encourages people to spend big and keep coming back for more.

Of course, the sensible fan on a budget joins a queue outside one of Anfield’s fine chippies.

Yet from the point of view of the many food businesses around the ground which depend on matchdays for the bulk of their income, the status quo must be far from ideal.

Head in either direction from the Kop when there’s no match on and you’ll see many of the chippies are closed. Without football it’s barely worth their while opening up. The abandonment or demolition of residential streets across L4 has seen to that.

The football club, by offering food which competes directly in terms of style if not quality or price, is sucking yet more cash from a community which has little left to offer up.

There is an alternative, and it may take some explaining to fans if it were ever implemented. But hear me out.

What if, instead of carrying on in the same vein, the club opted to increase the price – and quality – of its kiosk food?

We’re not talking about lobster bisque and cheeseboards here, just the kind of subtle gentrification we’ve seen in pubs across the land.

How about some of the PieMinister pies you see in discerning pubs and bars? How about some decent quality burgers, or sausages which don’t chill you to the marrow of your bones at the very thought of them?

If we were getting a bit outre we could chuck in nachos, meatballs, maybe some potato wedges. Let’s say catching up with the Happy Eater circa 1994 would be a realistic first-season goal.

Give us football food. Comfort food. Nothing to scare the horses. But food you’d eat by choice, somewhere other than inside a football ground. What could be worse than gulping down stuff likely to increase your chances of heart disease, bowel cancer and a thousand grisly fates without actually enjoying the taste of it?

For this kind of stuff the club could comfortably charge £6-8, with a bit of the captive audience surcharge we’ve come to expect but a vastly improved experience for those who choose to buy food inside the ground.

Because it is a choice – unlike ticket prices, nothing compels you to buy from the kiosks. By paying more for a pie which is at least no better than one you could get in a chip shop two minutes away, you’re already choosing to be fleeced. At least enjoy the experience.  Let’s at least get gentrification right

The decision would be clear – pay the club the kind of amount you’d happily hand over to a bar or pub owner for a product of similar quality, or go for a fast food option outside the ground and support a local business.

Meanwhile, the club should stop charging ridiculous amounts for known value items like Kit-Kats and tea which leave fans feeling more ripped off than ever.

The same thinking should apply to alcohol. Sure, there’s a commercial deal which requires the sale of Carlsberg. But would it really be impossible to at some stage negotiate a guest ale in parts of the ground at least?

Perhaps something locally brewed, offering fans from further afield a taste of Liverpool while providing those of us who simply like to enjoy what we’re drinking with something to appeal to us.

The outcome would in all likelihood be no decline in Carlsberg’s sales – plenty would still gulp down their dismal brew, while those of us who’d normally do our drinking either side of the game in pubs might be lured in for a half-time pint of something acceptable.

None of this should be considered revolutionary, yet it does seem hugely unlikely it would ever happen.

As in so many areas, when it comes to the food on offer to fans the British football industry is deeply conservative and risk-averse. Given Liverpool was among the clubs which helped create and ingrain that culture, perhaps it’s asking too much for us to lead a major change in thinking in this area.

For the foreseeable future it looks like Scouse pies and hot dogs all round.

Follow Steve on Twitter @steve_graves

Download the latest TAW digital magazine FREE iOS app for iPad, iPhone, iPod TouchDownload the latest TAW digital magazine FREE web app for PC, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile
Lovefollowconquer

9 Comments

  1. Absolutely spot on.
    I never buy anything in the ground as it’s such poor quality.
    A decent quality burger would be great. It’s easy to eat at the match and you could charge a fiver for it if it’s good quality.
    I’ve been to baseball games in America and the range/quality of food available puts Anfield (and I suspect the rest of British grounds) to shame.

  2. Most football fans are a simple folk at the match, we don’t want to educate our palate – we want affordable fatty scran to use as a base layer in a stomach that will be swishing around ale for the rest of the day.

    I agree with your points on the lager – but fine dining is already available as part of a pre-match package with the club.

    The minimum wage staff – many who struggle with the language – are already stretched enough and in the heat of the moment have difficulty distinguishing between a ‘hot dog’ and a ‘a packet of cheese and onion crisps’ as opposed to well-done and medium-rare venison steaks.

    And I certainly can’t see prawn-sandwich vending machines going down too well with the sophisticated Main Stand crowd.

    Besides it’s all part of the rugged match-day experience – give me a hot steak pie and a warm bottle of piss anyday.

  3. Most football fans are a simple folk at the match, we don’t want to educate our palate – we want affordable fatty scran to use as a base layer in a stomach that will be swishing around ale for the rest of the day.

    I agree with your points on the lager – but fine dining is already available as part of a pre-match package with the club.

    The minimum wage staff – many who struggle with the language – are already stretched enough and in the heat of the moment have difficulty distinguishing between a ‘hot dog’ and a ‘a packet of cheese and onion crisps’ as opposed to well-done and medium-rare venison steaks.

    And I certainly can’t see prawn-sandwich vending machines going down too well with the sophisticated Main Stand crowd.

    Besides it’s all part of the rugged match-day experience – give me a hot steak pie and a warm bottle of piss anyday.

    @journoraven

  4. “catching up with the Happy Eater circa 1994 would be a realistic first-season goal” – I love that line! :)

  5. A great post, and something thats been lacking attention. Surely a way to increase per-seat revenue is to get people into the ground earlier and (possibly) encourage them to stay later after final whistle.
    The current kiosks aren’t a destination, and theres little inside Anfield that makes it a place to hang out before 5 mins before kickoff.

    Having decent eateries inside the ground – great tasting snacks CAN be prepared in a 10×15 foot “cabin” – would make me want to get to the ground in time to enjoy a decent meal AND a pint beforehand. (maybe pick up a programme too).

    Pre match I already hand over 6 quid to a local cafe (and 60p for tea) for something that a GCSE cookery student could rustle up, And probably has.

    Would much rather spend that cash having an “experience” before the main event. When you’re already 50 quid down, another 8 for something that makes you smile is well within the pain threshold.

  6. While I haven’t had the chance to visit Anfield yet, hearing this makes the experience sound appalling, as if Anfield still lives in a time gone by.

    I’ve been to many stadiums in the US, and as a kid growing up in the early 90s, Anfield sounds like what Dodger Stadium used to be. Hot dogs, 2 choices of beverage, and a general lack of ideas.

    Now, I go to the new Yankee stadium quiet often and I must say while I don’t like baseball all that much (I am dragged along by my boyfriend for anyone who was wondering), going to the game is a real treat. I love food. And the first time I went to the new stadium I was in awe of how much choice there was. When it comes to beers, you’ve got bud light and cheaper options at every turn. But you also have loads of other beer stands with signs that read “Beers of the World.” While I might not classify Heinekin, Boddington’s, Stella, and others as the best beers around the world, they are still very good and a hell of a lot better than that other domestic crap. But bottom line is you have choice.

    Now the food is something extraordinary. There are plenty of run of the mill food kiosks that sell the usual hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, but then you’ve got an asian stall that sells noodle bowls, a sushi place, name-brand places like Johnny Rockets and Nathan’s, plus an incredible beef sandwich (that also costs a whopping $15), but is delicious. You can even watch the butcher cut the meat through a little window.

    I’ve tried cheesestakes, garlic fries, and burritos. Everything is good. The only thing I feel it lacks is some more healthier options, but again, eating there is your choice, you can get something healthier before the game and you know what’s coming when you step inside. Plus, and I don’t know if they do this in the UK yet, all the calories are listed next to everything. So you know even MORE about what you’re getting.

    The food is not cheap, and beer ranges from $9-$12 each. BUT, for me, when I go to a game, as it is usually a once in a while occasion, it becomes a real occasion to me and spending more on food and drinks is just part of the experience. Bottom line is that it’s a cycle. They can’t offer great food without making the money to pay for it. Totally worth it in my opinion. And remember, with baseball, you’re there a lot longer than a football match. I could easily eat before or after a football game because it’s so short.

    Anyways, just my two sense as a football and food fan!

  7. Forget all that – what happened to the guys that could throw a Mars Bar halfway up the Kop and pinpoint your grubby hand?

  8. Great post – when I have used a mates ticket in the Lower Centenary a woman nearby nips out of the ground 2 mins before the end of the first half and comes back in with a carrier bag full of chippy pies.

    Catering should be a good revenue stream for the club with decent margin – but why would you pay a premium for a below standard product?

    Wembley was a joke in terms of pricing but people were paying £6 for a slice of not great looking pizza!

    I’m sure the club would throw a load of logistics back at you and I agree with the comment about the staff capability. I would suggest a trial – one kiosk per stand for half a season offering decent food – at a slight premium with a different staffing solution.

    Promote it well and we will see?

    I also think giving people a reason to get in early helps with atmosphere and revenue. Budweiser were trying to incentivise getting into the Cup Final by 3pm to have a chance to win the match ball – thus spending more in the budweiser concessions rather than in the pubs near wembley.

    At Old Trafford – where they sell the same crap that we do they incentivise multi-purchase and reduce queues with offers – 2 Buds and 2 Hot Dogs for a Tenner. No change needed – just notes exchanged for Bud in plastic bottles and Hot Dogs – people buy two even if they dont want two cos it makes financial sense – if not splitting with a mate.

    I know the club have had trials in the Main Stand with a woman making pasta under the rake of the seating and lads selling carlsberg as roaming sales people to help reduce congestion.

    The club have set up the supporters committee – but I still think 90% of fans need an invitation to contribute ideas – as the club has been generally poor at listening for such a long time now.

  9. Hang on, NINE to TWELVE Dollars for a beer Danielle? I thought the States was cheaper for alcohol than here. Puts the 5 euro 60 pint in the Hilton Dublin into perspective.

    ferd

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.

Captcha Captcha Reload


£2000 Cash Advance
// Visit Hampson Hughes' Website
// been involved in an accident? HH can help
// £2,000 cash advance offer
// Latest news from Hampson Hughes
// follow HH on Twitter
Subscribe
// MAGAZINE IOS APP
// MAGAZINE WEB APP
// SITE RSS FEED
// PODCAST RSS FEED
// PODCAST ON ITUNES
// FOLLOW US ON TWITTER