A PLANNED live Q&A with Liverpool FC chief executive Ian Ayre scheduled for 6pm this evening has been cancelled with just four-and-a-half hours to spare after Saturday’s walk-out protest against increased ticket prices was supported by an estimated 15,000 fans at Anfield.
The club announced a plan on Friday to have Ayre answering questions from fans live in an hour-long show to be screened on LFCTV Go and YouTube.
Ayre spoke to the media on Friday following a pre-Sunderland press conference at Melwood when reporters were advised that manager Jürgen Klopp would not be answering questions on the subject of ticket prices.
Since Saturday’s protest there has been a groundswell of support for fairer prices for supporters in the mainstream media, including on Match of the Day. And last night reports began to filter through of emergency discussions behind the scenes at Liverpool following the unprecedented reaction from supporters. It’s due to these talks that the club has called time on Ayre’s Q&A. Had he taken to the internet to face the music, these are the questions we had intended to fire his way.
- Do you think it is acceptable that Liverpool has the third highest, cheapest season ticket in the league, behind London clubs Chelsea and Spurs?
- Liverpool spend £14m a year on agents fees, the highest in the Premier League, but see very little for it. Isn’t this a simple thing the club could reduce to put towards cheaper tickets?
- You say Liverpool need ticket revenue to compete, but Spurs are set to finish above us for the sixth time in the past seven seasons, despite making over £130m less a year according to the latest Deloitte Football Money League Report. Will this ticket increase really help?
- Do you see the benefit in having a supporter base who feel valued as part of the club, rather than disenfranchised and taken for granted?
- Why is each revenue stream treated separately as something that needs to be increased, instead of looking at overall turnover of the club?
- When West Ham United issue a statement saying they are using TV money to reduce ticket prices, why are you saying that it is impossible for Liverpool?
- Does the club accept that there is a correlation between atmosphere in the stadium and results on the pitch?
- Is there also a link between the decline in atmosphere and the alienation of those who feel priced out by current levels?
- You have pointed out the debate around the new pricing structure is wrong to focus on £77 tickets, as in the grand scheme their number is small. Why then has the club chosen to focus on £9 tickets, which are an equally insignificant number?
- There has been plenty to suggest in both the actions of the club and the Premier League that it is accepted that ticket prices are too high — why can’t Liverpool be the club to make a true stand, to set the mark? It would create a huge feel-good factor among fans — something the club should value.
LFC thanks fans for submitting questions for tonight's Q&A however due to ongoing ticketing discussions, this will no longer take place.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) February 8, 2016
More on the ticket price debate:
– READ: A message for the supporters who opposed the protest
– LISTEN: Free podcast: Ticket price special
– READ: The new ticket price structure: A missed opportunity
For all the criticism of Ayre, I get the feeling he’s been thrown to the dogs by the ownership. He’s the human shield. But if he underestimated the scale of the protest after witnessing the H&G debacle, then he’s a very foolish and complacent man. That’s a big if, though, we don’t know the details.
As a CEO that lives in the city I would have thought one of his key tasks was to judge the feeling of the fans and supporter groups, in light of previous protests he should be aware of the speed in which a protest can be mobilised and how effective it could be.
Agreed. But we don’t know whether he warned FSG or not.
I think it’s the exact opposite — that he was specifically tasked to come up with a ticket scheme and implement it. Very doubtful that FSG gets in the weeds with the details. They might have set a target and tasked Ayre with coming up with a scheme to reach it and make it work. His remarks and reaction all indicate that he was personally very much invested in the decisions that led to the pricing structure.
He was probably trusted by FSG to understand the local environment and he persuaded Mike Gordon that his plan was an equitable one. Then FSG gave it a nod on that basis. Obviously it is a major fail, and the blowback shocked them. That’s why they took swift action to hold emergency meetings. Ayre probably convinced them the fans would resist initially but then surrender. Obviously he was catastrophically wrong. He could lose part of his job responsibility over this. Perhaps that’s why they cancelled his Q&A.
Great questions, spot on.
But with regards to the cancellation of the Q&A, hopefully it is a good sign that they have realised they have to get their house in order and focus on sorting the problem out quick.
10 nails on the head
Don’t agree with using West Ham as an example though (not just in the questions but on forums/Twitter etc). They’re pretty much getting a state of the art stadium for free, that’s also going to be continuously funded by the tax payer.
as did Man City
if you get a chance to ask some questions to the powers that be, please ask them this “has the club considered unreserved Kop safe-standing seats at an affordable price which would = atmosphere, youth (who else would hang around >hr b4 k’off) & sustained inventive spontaneous vocal support + provide a full Kop well over an hour before kickoff as was the case when the ground had real atmosphere …(– this would also allow the club to fix Stand seats at whatever price they chose fit)
Totally agree with this. The ending of the Hillsborough inquests should allow us a real opportunity to discuss safe standing in a calm and informed way. Having gone to 5 away games this season I wonder how there aren’t more injuries apart from badly bruised shins, and paid through the nose for the privilege.
What? You think you can file Hillsborough away when the Inquests end? Perhaps if you had been there or lost family there you may feel differently. The family support group don’t support so called safe standing so you can only do one of two things – respect their wishes or attempt to piss all over them. What do you want to do?
Really, speaking for every family isn’t possible all over them? If they truly are the only two options then piss away – why ignore decades of progress in stadium design and crowd control. Too many people were let in at Hillsborough, can you imagine he club, or any club letting in unpaid patrons in? If we go with (and excuse me for inferring the wishes of a group of people) “no standing because it will never be safe because I don’t like it – look what it did in the past” then don’t dream of nuclear power (cleanest energy outside of renewables), flying (given the thousands of people that have died in plane crashes), or going on ocean cruises (titanic anyone). Hillsborough was dreadful, and its impact and legacy will live on – we won’t forget the 96 or their families. I didn’t intend for this post to offend any of the Hillsborough families.
Good points. Essense of the problem is that when demand outstrips supply the classic economic response is to raise prices until balance is achieved. I think the economist has an article on this at the moment advocating that reaponse. But if you have to take into consideration other factors (as a well run club should) you have to start doing active management. Each action you take favours some and disadvantages others. So it is very political. What is disappointing is that it looked like LFC understood this and that was the whole point of the working group but in the end it looks like they were using it for cover to make a few PR changes but basically plough ahead business as usual…
I was there and I will never get over what I saw. I was in the North Stand, but believe you me the horrors are there for me every day. I have every respect for the families but we have to accept that safe standing is an option. I am lucky to have friends living in Munster so I can get to a Dortmund game once in a while. It is incredible and safe standing works. To simply say that we must do what the families want is a noble sentiment but ultimately every thing moves on.
This isn’t a debate about this issue, but I’m not going to have you calling me on this – I was there, just wish I hadn’t been.
Woah calm down lad. I dont think this is his point. IT IS time to have the debate though.
Good questions though West Ham are desperate to fill their rented stadium so have to offer great deals. I’d also like to know how many dead people hold season tickets? e.g. someone has a season ticket for decades & qualifies for a senior citizen discount, but then dies & someone who should pay full price continues to use it – the club are losing out on a full price ticket, plus the season ticket waiting list doesn’t go down.
and the overriding unquantifiable but logical assumption is that a well motivated local fan base that can once again turn anfield into a place with an amazing and intimidating atmosphere , a place that top players want to play and opposition players fear , will undoubtedly mean more points and ( for the benefit of FSG) more money . Last time I checked the league position and champions league qualification generated you more revenue .
Can’t compare West Ham getting a free stadium and lowering prices to a 100m investment.
I for one had always hoped for a stadium that could seat above 70k, with low ticket prices, could easily fill it up, earn more on food/bev – imagine the atmosphere if there were 70k of us.
Q3 & Q9 = excellent
Q5 – business is run that way. Each stream has to be sustainable. Point is it can be even if tickets would be cheaper.
Irish bloke on RedmenTv had a good point: pay so much to watch this squad in midtable is ludicrous. If we’d have Suarez, Torres, Gerrard, Alonso, Masche & Reina in our starting XI, or if we were fighting for title, I’m certain this pill would have been easier to swallow, their timing just not right. I’m glad the timing has been off as prices must change. Having a sustainable model does not mutually exclude low prices, just tweak the profit margins, be conservative towards fans and let them pay more for additional services which we can opt to buy, not demand high sums from us upfront.
Here’s what I think Ayre would answer, if he was given a truth serum…
1. Do you think it is acceptable that Liverpool has the third highest, cheapest season ticket in the league, behind London clubs Chelsea and Spurs?
The price of our cheapest season tickets could be given an enormous hike and all would sell out very quickly.
2. Liverpool spend £14m a year on agents fees, the highest in the Premier League, but see very little for it. Isn’t this a simple thing the club could reduce to put towards cheaper tickets?
We are a club that players don’t particularly want to play for (unless they see us as a stepping stone to where they really want to be). The players also don’t want to live in this area. The money paid in agents’ fees enables us to get some of the players we actually want. If we paid more in agents’ fees, we would get better players.
3. You say Liverpool need ticket revenue to compete, but Spurs are set to finish above us for the sixth time in the past seven seasons, despite making over £130m less a year according to the latest Deloitte Football Money League Report. Will this ticket increase really help?
We are obviously lying about this. The truth is that fans are prepared to pay and we are in the business of taking as much of their cash as we can.
4. Do you see the benefit in having a supporter base who feel valued as part of the club, rather than disenfranchised and taken for granted?
Only if feeling valued results in them handing over more money to the club.
5. Why is each revenue stream treated separately as something that needs to be increased, instead of looking at overall turnover of the club?
Because demand outstrips supply in every individual revenue stream.
6. When West Ham United issue a statement saying they are using TV money to reduce ticket prices, why are you saying that it is impossible for Liverpool?
This is just another lie, obviously.
7. Does the club accept that there is a correlation between atmosphere in the stadium and results on the pitch?
Yes, but the only important thing is that Liverpool avoid relegation from the Premier League. Champions League qualification is not as important as it was. What is important is that the stadium is full and that the right customers show up. Those with a high disposable income, who are prepared to spend their cash on the extensive range of merchandise we have on sale.
8. Is there also a link between the decline in atmosphere and the alienation of those who feel priced out by current levels?
Those who are still paying spectators are, by definition, not priced-out. Those who are literally priced-out are of no great loss. They have been replaced by fans who are well-off. They show-up, buy souvenirs and don’t complain. These are the customers we really want.
9. You have pointed out the debate around the new pricing structure is wrong to focus on £77 tickets, as in the grand scheme their number is small. Why then has the club chosen to focus on £9 tickets, which are an equally insignificant number?
Both figures are essentially straw-men, although we obviously look better if attention can be focused on the smaller figure.
10. There has been plenty to suggest in both the actions of the club and the Premier League that it is accepted that ticket prices are too high — why can’t Liverpool be the club to make a true stand, to set the mark? It would create a huge feel-good factor among fans — something the club should value.
The suggestions have been made by those that want this to be the case. The reality is that prices could possibly be raised much further, without the club failing to sell all of the tickets. Accepted wisdom (amongst fans, journalists and former players) and brutal economic fact are a million miles from one another.
jib season tickets . They don’t make sense to a club where demand is so high and supply so low.
Also allocate at least 10,000 tickets on a match day with regard to a first come first served basis with big discounts to under 18’s.
atmosphere would change instantly for the better i predict.
Some excellent questions, although West Ham aren’t the best example given the amount of public money used towards overheads etc. once they’re in the new stadium they didn’t build.
Nailed on all 10.
11) When a team that has failed to make Champions League for 5 of the last 6 seasons is able to attract a manager with the professional standing afforded to Jurgen Klopp, do you feel that the atmosphere in the stadium had any indirect or direct effect on negotiations?
Maybe we shouldn’t restrict our questions to match tickets.But I understand that we’ve got to start somewhere.And this isn’t just football supporters;it’s all of us.
When I was a kid as a trainee I was paid £6 a week.It cost me 2 shiilings a week to go to the match.That was 10p in modern money.So,it used to cost me 1.7% of my weekly income to go to the match.
So by today’s standards that means either a trainee should be paid about £3000 per week or tickets should be about £5 or £6.
It’s called stealth in modern economics.It means ripping people off and charging more for less.They reduce the quantity and charge you just a little bit more each time,
Put it this way if a Mars Bar had matched inflation against pricing you’d buy one from Asda today and have to carry it home on your shoulder like a 2 seater sofa.
That my friends is modern economics.And we keep falling for it.
So,we’ve got to start somewhere!
On Q10: There is no reason to assume clubs would follow LFC’s lead for the same reason no one is following West Ham’s lead (Q6). Half of all Premier League teams lost money in the most recent reports. Costs (wages, transfer fees) aren’t going down. Why would a money-losing operation with increasing costs make the choice to reduce a revenue stream?
Think of it this way: The counter-proposals SOS and others have put out call for LFC to spend £7m over three years. That’s roughly the difference between three years of Jurgen Klopp (reportedly £21m) and three years of Brendan Rodgers (reportedly £15m).
How would you rather the club spent that money? I don’t think it’s an easy answer.
Great piece from todays Grauniad about the price rise of disabled tickets at Anfield ( Main Stand) of 56.13%!!!
The ticket price raise is wrong for many reasons:
1, Morally anyway
2, Economically also, because there are barely gains and a major risk to loose the positive long term prospect. The whole ticket revenues are about 5% of LFC’s total revenues. So the extra from the rise might amount to 0,5% of the total.
Piss your fans off for a dime?
3, For this manager and the team, they desperately need a bond with the supporters. Klopp tries to build for months and FSG back-stabs him for no reason.
4, You cannot just buy into tradition and be unwilling to serve the community which helped to create it in the first place. A club is not an owner’s product. As some of you TAW guys wrote: You were here before FSG and you’ll be here after they left!
Another one could be;
Why do you use the atmosphere as your biggest marketing tool and even use it to sway a top manager to join, but then do your best to price out the fans who make that atmosphere in favour of day trippers who would rather film it than join in just because they’ll pay more