The cost of tickets at top-level football matches seems to pop in and out of the news on a regular basis and they always seem to be accompanied by protest from the fans. But do protests actually help to drive down the prices?
Liverpool supporters’ clubs announced on Thursday that they are proposing that Liverpool fans walk out of their match against Sunderland on 77 minutes in protest against the club’s plans to increase ticket prices from £59 to £77 per game, for a seat in their new main stand.
Spion Kop 1906, one of the groups involved in the plan, released a statement urging fans to back the walkout. In the statement the group said: ‘After months of time and effort, meetings and debate of ideas and plans to lower supporters’ costs, the owners have chosen to increase prices for many. In the context of the huge income rises the club will receive next year, to up their revenue from fans through season and matchday tickets is both unnecessary and morally unjustifiable.’
In a statement on their new ticket structure, which places large emphasis on encouraging a new younger fan-base to attend matches, Liverpool noted that they intend to freeze or decrease the price of 64 percent of season tickets, and 45 percent of matchday tickets.
— Spion Kop 1906 (@SpionKop1906) February 4, 2016
According to Spion Kop 1906 the structure introduces ‘big increases for some, a few frozen and others get a tiny bit off. The club still make more. Don’t think it’s ok because yours is ok. Who will get the next increases do you think?’
In October last year Bayern Munich fans staged a five minute boycott in the opening minutes of the away leg in their Champions League tie. They were unhappy at the cost of away tickets to The Emirates, the cheapest of which (on the night) cost £65. This move was supported by the Arsenal fans in attendance at the match.
The protest had little effect as the Arsenal tickets remained the same, with their most expensive matchday ticket coming in at £97 while their most expensive season ticket sits at £2,013.
Looking back further in time, 2013 saw Ajax fans protesting at the price of tickets to see their team play in the away leg in a Champions League match against Manchester City.
Banners in the stadium displayed messages that read: ‘€80 for the away section is ridiculous’ and ‘Against modern football!’.
Shockingly enough, after the protests, Ajax were fined €10,000 by UEFA for the ‘display of a provocative and inappropriate banner.’
In May 2015, fans protested outside a meeting of Premier League club executives about the rise in ticket prices in the league generally. The protest came in the wake of a television deal that saw rights to televise premier league football shoot to over £5 billion over the next three seasons. Fans wanted this increased income for clubs, through the television deal, to trickle down to them in terms of decreased prices, but nearly a year on there seems to be no movement, which is especially clear in the case of the news coming from Liverpool.
Unfortunately, from a Liverpool fan’s point of view, the outlook seems bleak. History seems to indicate that protest will have very little effect on their club changing their ticket pricing structure. It doesn’t help that the governing bodies of football also seem to dislike protest, as the Ajax incident shows.
Graham is a final year Journalism Student in DCU, with an interest in sport and most things geeky. You can give him grief on twitter @Graham_mc1