Dear John W Henry and FSG,
I’m writing to express my sadness at the announcement of 2015-16 season ticket prices, and in particular the absence of any concession for 17-21 olds.
My son, Sam, turned 17 in December last year and is now being asked to pay £725 versus the £200 he paid last season when Liverpool Football Club finally introduced a junior price for under-16s in The Kop.
Prior to that, after 14 years on the waiting list, we had no option but to pay a full adult price for his first two seasons. That in itself was ridiculous but after a lifetime on the waiting list — since the day he was born — it was a price pill we had to swallow, albeit paid for by benevolent grandparents.
Naturally, it was a nice surprise (although in reality no more than one should expect) to hear last season that there would be a price reflective of his age and his schoolboy status.
We were also advised — at the Anfield ticket windows when paying for 2014-15 — that a reduced price for season tickets would follow for juniors progressing beyond the age of 16. The same applies for cup games, but not now it seems for league matches and season tickets — our bread and butter, as a certain Mr Shankly once said.
Sam is still at school, now in sixth form, yet now it seems, contrary to what we were told, he has to stump up an additional £525 on top of the £200 he paid last season. This is at odds with the pricing structure at Manchester United, just 33.5 miles from Anfield, where, for example, the following is on offer to their younger supporters:
West/East Stand Lower:
18-20-year olds: £399
16-17-year olds: £266
But, at Liverpool, where we so love to promote the notion of community and the famous “12th Man” on The Kop, nothing by way of concession for our young adults in the 17-21 age bracket.
Adding insult to injury, is that Liverpool FC continue to correct the previous wrongs of the absence of wholesale junior pricing by reducing next season’s under 16s price to £180. While I welcome this as another very small step towards encouraging parents to bring children to matches, such is the stark scarcity of youngsters at Liverpool games, the cost to the club for this concession is literally a drop in the ocean of the remarkable wealth afforded by the latest Premier League TV deal.
So, what are we, as a father and son, fanatical local supporters faced with in terms of a decision regarding the combined cost of purchasing two adult season tickets? How do we afford between us, from my limited disposable family income and Sam’s Saturday job, £1,550 payable at such short notice by May 22?
The answer to these questions is this: We can’t afford it.
One of the main things that, as father and son, that binds us together, and Sam’s grandad — who brought me to Anfield — and aunt (both of whom are also season ticket holders of 30 years plus) is now at an end, unless we suddenly strike gold on the lottery.
I will probably be able to afford my own adult season ticket (for the 33rd consecutive season) but don’t have the money to pay another full adult price for my son.
So, Sam’s three years of being a season-ticket holder, after 14 years on the waiting list; his association and love of watching his team is ended, through cost alone, at the age of 17. The ticket isn’t transferable, so where does this leave Sam in future? According to the Liverpool FC website: “The Season Ticket Waiting List is currently closed to new applications.” Where does Sam’s next season ticket come from?
You’ll Never Walk Alone.
Sam doesn’t earn a salary. He’s a schoolboy. And here, Liverpool are reflecting his progression from GCSE in Year 11 to A-Levels in Year 12 by asking him to stump up a near 200 per cent increase to enjoy his hobby and share some time with his dad, friends and family.
This is one sorry tale, but one which chimes with the story of so many Liverpool fans, principally hailing from the city that gives the club its name, whom your match day and season ticket pricing has broken a lifetime’s devotion.
While the wider issue of the cost of football; and in particular the cost of watching Liverpool as an adult will remain an issue for all but the super-rich, the least you can do is reconsider your stance for young people who are not working: schoolboys, students, and the unemployed.
It may sound old-fashioned but it’s time for Liverpool Football Club to show it cares. Is it too late to show that a heart remains where many can only see greed?
Think about this again: £725 for a 17-year old schoolboy to watch his favourite football team.
I look forward to hearing from you,
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We’ve effectively priced out an entire generation of supporters which will only go further in damaging the atmosphere in the ground.
It’s been 25 years since I was a teenager on the kop, but at current pricing I would have had no option other than listening to the radio.
We have to look after, protect and maybe even subsidise the next generation of supporters, both older fans and club alike.
The disappointing thing is, if they reduced 17-21 yr olds by £400 each, the net effect would be very ltitle given how few there are actually in the ground anyway.
Absolutley brilliant that, Mike.
Nothing more for me to add as you have encapsulated everything that needs to be addressed.
Mike, Don’t give up the season ticket! I’m sure I can help with the cost in exchange for going to a few games. I travel up from Cardiff when I can and usually end up with a lovely restricted view ticket so would help both of us out! Let me know what you think!!
Spot on, Mike.
A whole generation priced out, but it’s not just limited to youth. Even earning a decent wage, I haven’t got £700 knocking about at a few weeks’ notice. The whole season ticket system needs a rethink – starting with pricing and payment.
Magnificent that, Mike. Hope John Henry is listening. A gradual rise to that figure over say 5 years, whilst still far too high in my view, would at least give people a bloody chance. Those figures are ludicrous.
I’ll be honest Mike, I’m disappointed to see what you’ve written about the Utd ticketing prices. You don’t get more corporate than Utd yet even they’re considering the younger fans. It puts us to shame. The figures involved are not that much either. If we had a 1000 junior tickets priced at £200 instead of full price then it’s less than a £1m reduction of the gross.
I sympathise because it breaks my heart that I can’t afford to take my son (also called Sam). He’s thrown his heart into supporting Liverpool (initially to please me as in, kids want to please their dads as much as dads want to please their kids, although he feels it too now) yet I can’t reward his faith in me by taking him to games. It’s such an important bond between father and son but I’m noticing it’s becoming a thing of the past. Truth is, my main circle of friends have lads and a lot of them are not taking up supporting Liverpool. They’re indifferent to it because without going to the match ever they’re not getting that fire burning inside them. In 10 years time they’ll be in their 20’s but they won’t be going to Anfield because it’s not something that’s in them.
Well said Mike, in many ways this is everything wrong with modern football and Liverpool FC in particular. Pay money you don’t have or stop going to the game, and people wonder why there is resentment around Anfield. No season tickets no football, because it’s nearly impossible to get tickets, regardless of price, (I have tried to take my son all season and have not been able to do get tickets).
On top of this LFC has no plan for the future, it took 14 years from birth to get a ticket so if Mikes son had the money he would keep his ticket 40-60 years.
I was hoping that FSG were going to show some inovation of this, finding a way for mates to sit together to start with like you can at Lords where you have a section of a stand and not a permanent seat so you can change the people you sit next to. I also hoped they would sell tickets for games in clusters of 3 or 4 so you can save all year and have 3 or 4 days out because like Mike if i had a season ticket i could not afford it for me and the kids. Each year there must be many families with the same problems and LFC don’t give a toss, then one day when the average age of the crowd is over 60 and there is no singing anymore it will be too late
First, let me say, excellent article. It really struck a chord with me.
This might get roundly dismissed, but it’s something I’ve thought about quite a few times. As an American, the opportunity to see a game at Anfield is something I *might* have a chance to do in my lifetime. However, if I can’t get to a game, I’d love to know that I was doing something to help teenagers in the area attend matches. Enjoyment by proxy.
Considering the sheer number of Liverpool fans around the world, what if there was a way for those of us with the means or desire to kick in a few dollars (the currency, in my case) to help offset the cost of season tickets for matchgoers under 20 years of age? I’m essential talking about crowdfunding, I think. This money wouldn’t need to go to FSG but could instead be managed by SOS, for example.
I’ve read Kieran’s kind offer and David Smith’s idea of subsidies and it occurs to me that there may just be people – A LOT of people incl myself – who want to help.
I’m an American too. And I won’t be able to get to Anfield any time soon, in all likelihood. I agree that maybe TAW could start a collection/crowdfunding/whatever if we knew the collection was going towards helping parents pay for their children’s tickets. It’s not just an issue with English football. It’s an issue with a lot of the major sports here in the US. Pricing out younger fans.
Count me in as well. I haven’t had much chance to go to Anfielx ever since I moved to America, so I’d gladly contribute.
Excellent piece – can’t see how anyone could argue against such reasoning. Let’s hope Mr Henry has another think. My son is 14 and we have only been able to get tickets for 6 games in last eight years. We have started going to watch AFC Liverpool and guess what my son and I get as much of a buzz from watching them as we do from LFC. Plus the players and staff really appreciate the supporters choice of what to do with their leisure time. They play in the final of the Liverpool senior cup on April 18 so give them a go.
Great piece and one which echoes the feelings and concerns of many, many modern-day match-goers.
Will John Henry and FSG take notice? The pessimist in me doubts they will, as long as the cash keeps rolling in and the people keep turning up then the pessimist in me believes they’ll settle for that.
Having said that, those involved in the running of the club HAVE to realise the serious, long term danger to the club this issue represents.
They have to appreciate how the match-going “bug” works. I have friends who are Liverpool fans, but because of their lack of match going when they were younger (as opposed to myself, when football was a bit more affordable) I can genuinely say if I offered them a ticket for a standard home game, even for a tenner, they’d probably still refuse it. My point is, getting the bug now mainly boils down to affordability and unless it is made affordable then the long, slow dilution of atmosphere at Anfield will be inevitable. If the club want to sell the 12th man, unique atmosphere etc then they need to address this.
I hate to say it but Everton seem to have this sussed a lot better than we do.
Same happened to me last year would let me transfer my daughters adult season ticket to a junior and now next season all season tickets non transferable .at this rate we will b losing a generation of fans . Also they know if people don’t renew there ticket will go on to the mythical waiting list or should we say Thomas Cook sports
Having been a Season Ticket holder since 1981 I fully understand it is a hard decision to give a Season Ticket up.
But unfortunately our club has the attitude of ‘if you don’t want it someone else will’ and always will have that attitude.
We are not like similar clubs that advertise on radio for Season Tickets then again in the winter offering half Season Tickets.
It is the price we have to pay for supporting what sometimes is not the best but IS the biggest.
Firstly let me say what an excellent piece. I follow Hull City for my sins and whilst I know some of the above mentioned issues may never affect me (the waiting list scenario for one) I really sympathise with your position. I used to go the match with my dad as a young teen and as others have said that bread the fire in my belly. Then on to attending with my mates and now as a 30 something man I’m in my second season in the family enclosure with my 7 year old son. First he was only interested in the free sweets been chucked around at half time by the mascot but as time has gone on I’ve seen that fire in his belly grow. Luckily his season ticket is around £30 and is an easy affordable addition to my Season ticket price however your situation saddens me deeply. There’s no care by the current regimes for tradition and generational heritage, to them its all about the money. Even though the gate revenues are a drop in the ocean to many higher tier clubs these days they still wring the fans for all they’re worth and more. It smacks of greed and I honestly fear for the future of the match day experience as we know it and as for the generations of family football loyalties, they are slowly but surely being smashed in to oblivion by money hungry egomaniacs.
The ownership should be thinking of young fans just as they think of young players. The future of the club must be taken care of both on and off the pitch.
I’ve posted this link on another thread and it’s a great read as is Swiss ramble in general.
Last year we made call it £51m from match day revenue, unfortunately there’s no stat on the age bracket of say 17-20 year olds. Here’s an idea when a player signs for Liverpool as part of securing their millionaire futures ow about as club policy 3% of earnings go back into charity projects (tax write off) So 1% into 17-20 year season ticket prices, 1% into a local charity, 1% into a global charity. Just as an idea.
So the player on £100,000 K a week pays £1K a week into the fund and he can write that down as a tax write off. You could scale it so maybe max it out at a £1K per week.
Just an idea of how you can maintain maxing income under FFP and potentially feed some of it back into the community through a different avenue.
I’m not sure players should be held accountable for this. The owners need to address this. Asking players (who earn a wage as an employee) seems odd to me.
A clear and fair pricing structure is what’s needed
I had the same idea a while ago about players subsidising youth tickets in a small way. Not surprisingly my suggestion got shut down immediately. But I still think it’s reasonable to ask players earning millions to chip in a tiny amount to help some young locals attend games — in a kind of player sponsoring young fans way. The club could get some good will from it, maybe do some little thing on the pitch with a couple kids during HT, and as Brian says the players could take a tax write-off. Players doing charity work out in the community is one thing; being charitable inside the ground is equally important. There’s nothing that will light a fire in young fans like a chance for contact with their LFC player idols.
And Mark, I don’t think it’s about holding the players ‘accountable’. It’s more about engagement, about bridging the huge and increasing gap between multi-millionaire players and the far less affluent local people who support them.
This BTW doesn’t lessen the need for a fair and equitable ticket pricing and payment structure.
As with a few of the above commenters. I’m also an American who hope to visit Anfield to watch The Reds someday.
I really like the crowd-funding idea mentioned above, but I worry about the long-term effectiveness of such a strategy. I think that this would provide much needed relief to locals that can’t afford tickets. But, how does this plan motivate FSG to lower the prices?
What if the crowd-funding idea did two things — both relieved the cost incurred on local folks AND raised money for a unionized effort that could effectively lobby/protest FSG and make them listen.
Just some quick off-the-cuff thoughts there. I as an American LFC fan, would support efforts like this…and would happily take payment in the form of greater support for LFC at Anfield (with the big hope I can be there myself someday).
Mike has your lad looked at crowdfunding the season ticket using his social networks.
I know it doesn’t answer the wider problem but buying the season ticket on a 0% credit card, setting down monthly payments and crowdfunding the season ticket over the year with a task, volunteering or just something mad like 100 press ups, or 100 burpees per £ donated then upload the video to twitter or just something stupid like that to see if the idea works.
7,500 press ups for a LFC season ticket
It’s a disgrace the price of watching Liverpool. Im giving up mine this year after tens years on waiting list cos jus can’t afford with my rent and bills on min wage, and it’s killing me but I’ve got no choice. And the sad thing is I don’t think john Henry gives a shit about it. He just sees $$$$$$
I think we need to look closer to Anfield with regard to who is making the decisions about ticket pricing. FSG owns multiple sport venues. They are known to take a hands-off approach regarding day-to-day operations, allowing each facility and its local staff to make its own decisions driven by knowledge of local conditions.
It’s easy to want to blame the mysterious ‘Owner’, but I’ll bet that John Henry, like any top-level executive in any corporate structure, leaves the nitty-gritty operational details to others within the organisation. His late-night thoughts as he closes his eyes are probably about how does he recoup for the investors the £115m interest-free loan for the stadium and pay outrageous player salaries (including for players who due to long-term injuries can’t actually earn those wages), while also being able to shell out ridiculous transfer fees to greedy and unscrupulous Ukrainian agents and owners for players who fans hysterically want but who aren’t entirely proven. I really don’t think John Henry thinks about the price of a junior ticket. That’s what he hired the Club’s CEO (Ayre) to worry about.