By Charlie Cox
What a Difference a Year Makes
How much were you paying for away match tickets when you were 17? £20? £10? £5? Less?
Imagine only paying £10 for a Liverpool away ticket last season when you were 16-years-old and then seeing a sudden jump to £45 within the space of 12 months.
Adults paying between £35-£62 for an away ticket has become common place within the last five years; many have come to just accept it and to just pay their way or simply not attend. But with this attitude, if the demand is there, doesn’t this simply encourage clubs to raise the price of tickets?
To put the Liverpool away ticket into perspective, it would be just £15 cheaper of the ticket I purchased for the 2015 FA Cup Final. And actually £5 more than the ticket I bought for the Semi Final. Both the FA Cup matches were premium event prices due to them being semi-final and final taking place at the iconic Wembley Stadium.
Liverpool FC’s price category price jump at 17-years-old is also one year younger than the standard adult price jump of 18-years-old, which seems strange.
In 2008, a new law was passed called the Education and Skills Act 2008. It says that by 2013, all young people in England have to stay on in education or training at least part-time until they are 17 years old. By 2015, all young people will have to stay on in education or training at least part-time, until they are 18 years old.
So if you are seventeen years of age and constantly spending time within the boundaries of education, how are you expected to be able to start dishing out potentially £45 every other week?
Liverpool £ Issues
Liverpool FC is one of the world largest and well-known football clubs. Like most clubs now privy to the riches of television rights money, for them, £35 is like the one pence change we get at the end of a shopping trip. For them £35 is nothing, but for students, trainees etc, the impact of the £35 difference is astronomical.
Liverpool fans themselves have been victims of away prices due to their team being classed as a ‘Category A’ team when they visit most other clubs, meaning their fans are forced to pay premium prices.
Last season Liverpool fans protested over having to pay £50 for their midweek away tie to Hull City. To demonstrate their disapproval of the pricing, fans brought cheaper child tickets and then boycotted the game. Only 1200 people (approx.) of the 3000 tickets sold attended the game. An initiative led by the Spirit of Shankly group, who have led the way on raising awareness on the ticket price issue in modern day football.
Demographic vs Atmosphere
It is no coincidence that the average age of an adult Premier League fan is now 41. Younger people, who have less disposable income, struggle financially to follow their team the way their parents once did.
Take the often quoted Arsenal example: In 1990, a ticket to watch Arsenal cost £5. The cheapest ticket for a ‘category A’ game at the Emirates stadium is now £64.
Supporters of Premier League clubs already pay over twice of what fans in the other four top European leagues pay. Ticket prices continue to rise more than three times faster than the rate of inflation. Never mind teenagers, but how exactly is the ordinary working fan meant to keep up? After all, football has traditionally been the game of the working classes.
Fans between the age of 16-20 who attend regularly are also big contributors to the atmosphere of matches. Once they opt out due to the expense of attending games, they are being replaced by those who tend to watch their football on TV and like tourists occasionally come seeking the ‘live match experience’.
The phrase ‘live match day experience’ was never in the football vernacular until recently. Now it’s printed on half-and-half scarves and is football club marketing department speak.
The Football Supporters Federation (The FSF) has proposed to the Premier League a potential 16-25 price category; akin to a young person’s railcard (16-26) (which allows a third off train travel). This enables concessions the chance of a smooth and less painful transition through the prices. If a 17-year-old were to go from £10 to £45, they would rightly feel cheated and would struggle financially, but if a 16-25 bracket was introduced it would make this financial change more gradual. With the potential of paying £10 up to the age of 16. £25 from then on until the age of £45.
There’s an even better way of solving the unfairness of away ticket pricing, though – whether it be this age price jump, club categorisation or general expense – the FSF’s ’20’s Plenty’ to make all away ticket prices £20.
It would cost each club approximately £1.2m to subsidise all their away fans, the money to which every Premier League club has unexpectedly been given this season from Norwich City’s parachute payment that was redistributed amongst all the Premier League clubs, after the Canaries came straight back up.
The opportunity is there for the club to do right by supporters without even spending their own money.
[The only feedback I’ve heard from clubs, is they don’t want to commit first and then allow another club to use the £1.2m to gain a competitive advantage… What? Like buying a £1m player?! It’s something of a short-sighted and disturbing attitude – MOMS Ed]
Swansea City this season have already subsidised their supporters for all their away matches, so they pay just £22 for a ticket. Proof that if there is a will, there is a way.
The FSF have planned a ‘weekend of action’ where Football fans will make their grievances and anger at ticket prices known through protests taking place at games during the weekend of Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th October.
You are encouraged to get involved or nothing will ever change. If you tolerate this and are a parent, then your children will be next.
Follow Charlie on Twitter @charlcox6
Follow MOMS on Twitter @oldmansaid