HERE I am in my 11th season of going to watch Liverpool play at Anfield and still awaiting my season ticket, writes Philippa Smallwood. I have a major decision to make, and the time has come to finally decide if I get enough out of it to warrant spending the money, time and effort to attend week after week.
I have so much respect for the fans who have continued to turn up at Anfield season after season. Admittedly I only have a 30-minute drive. I have friends who travel over three hours just to get to the game, and then they have the same again to get back home. Still they turn up week after week. If they can do that, then why am I questioning still turning up?
If I look at the cost of simply going to the game, then straight away you would question the sanity of someone paying out to watch 22 blokes kick a ball about on some grass – sorry, “The hallowed turf”! So far this season sitting in the Kop has cost me as follows:-
Am I mad? Nearly £1500.00 – on watching football! I dread to think what the cost is for supporters who go to the away games as well. I even took the decision this season to move from the Centenary Stand to the Kop to try and save spending as much, but you have to seriously question whether the supporters are being taken advantage of. You end up feeling relieved when your team is drawn to play away from home in the Cup competitions because it will save you a few quid.
If you don’t go to all the games, you risk not gaining enough loyalty credits, so you end up in the free for all madness trying to get tickets. So, you buy all the tickets for all the games you can. You are driven by fear – the fear of missing out on that moment.
You sign up for the AutoCup scheme so you qualify for the ballot should the team get to the Final of a Cup competition. Wembley holds 90,000 fans – yet for the FA Cup final in 2014, each club was awarded 25,000 tickets. So, 40,000 seats went to “The Football Family”, sponsors and the corporate bunch. What about the supporters who have invested their hard-earned money into going to the games week after week? We get the reward of watching the final on the TV – no doubt listening to the new commentating legend that is Robbie Savage.
Tickets for the semi-final cost up to £60, plus your travel to and from Wembley, and your food and drink. The final then costs up to £115 plus the extras. It all leaves me feeling that the supporters are seriously being taken advantage of, and it leaves a very bitter taste in the mouth.
But who cares if I stop going to the games? I am just one person. Someone else will just go in my place, paying the extortionate prices. The club still gets their money. The FA still gets their money. The players still get their money. The only people left feeling dissatisfied are the supporters. I am sure that I am not the only supporter who feels this way. Trapped in a loveless unreciprocated marriage, in fear of missing out on the glory – the glory that lasts for a moment in time! With a cost that leaves many people struggling to justify it.
It isn’t just the cost but the time and effort that it takes to take several hours out of your day for 90 minutes of “possible” entertainment. When will the clubs, the Premier League, The FA and UEFA realise that at some point the fans will have had enough of being taken advantage of? Why does it cost £10 to park my car? Why does it cost £4 for a hotdog? Football is no longer about glory or winning trophies, but about covering the costs of the players’ and staff’s wages.
I don’t go the games to see Liverpool FC finish in the top four because we will get £20m in prize money – I go to see my team lift some silverware. Someone somewhere has to start listening. Someone has to make a stand and say enough is enough.
And so, here I am staring at the facts in front of me. Eleven years of loyalty all building up to a decision I never wanted to make. But one that I feel is inevitable. I feel drained. I feel like nobody cares. Nobody cares that my heart is breaking. Maybe it’s my own fault. After all I was the mug that started going to the games in the first place – sucked in by the image of seeing the team I love play in front of my eyes.
So, at the end of the season I shall therefore say: “Goodbye Anfield. We shared some great times, we have shared some bad. It is a shame that it had to end this way!”
Pics: David Rawcliffe