Without Fans Football Is Nothing
Reports stated that around 25% of the Anfield home contingent made their way from their seats to the exits on 77 minutes in Liverpool’s game against Sunderland on Saturday.
This pre-orchestrated move by Liverpool fans was undertaken as a protest to a recent announcement that some ticket prices at the home of the Reds were being increased next season.
The Liverpool board, in their apparent defence, have stated that many ticket prices have been frozen or reduced and that only a select number of tickets will see an increase. However, for me, this sounds like the talk of a group of people trying their best to pull the wool over football supporters eyes yet again.
Liverpool, like many other clubs in the Premier League, appear to be missing the point.
Supporting whichever club you do costs a lot of money in the top flight in this country, and that is just the home games. Add inflated away ticket prices and travel to the equation and football really is becoming too pricey for your average supporter. This average fan is not able to afford a ticket to home games and away games so he pays his satellite television subscription instead to catch as much of the action away from home as possible, and because of this, the television companies can afford to pay the Premier League even more money to show live football.
So not only is a supporters season ticket price not getting any cheaper, their television package is getting more expensive and football is really starting to bite off the hand that feeds it.
It is a vicious circle. Supporters pay more to watch, players earn more, agents earn more, clubs earn more, directors earn more, managers earn more. Everyone does really well from this television deal, except the supporters. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer.
We are not asking for the world here. Neither are we suggesting that communism is the way forward, however this really cannot go on much longer.
Attendance figures in the Premier League suggest that a lot of fans on the whole can still afford to go, but can they really? Or are they doing so out of pure love for the game, and sacrificing other important things in their life?
You have to thank the Liverpool fans for raising this issue.
At 2-0 up on 77 minutes, a Liverpool team lacking in vociferous backing went on to throw away their lead and pick up only a point against Sunderland. Had there been a full house, maybe the team would not have caved in. Can you imagine if supporters got to the point where they said enough is enough?
Nobody wants that.
Clubs will argue that they need to cater for all types of fans and that the new television deal will allow them to compete internationally and gain more and more fans overseas as well as locally to their clubs location, but the game as a spectacle is often pretty rubbish without a crowd’s reaction to events on the field of play. This in turn makes games more watchable for those abroad too. However, those thirty or forty thousand fans that turn up rain or shine every other week for nine months of the year need to be brought into focus a bit more.
There has to be a cut-off point.
A time where clubs realise that supporters have been paying over the odds for too long.
A time where clubs understand that pricing fans out of the game means the stadium lacks that bit of cutting edge, maybe the fan that starts all the songs.
A time where clubs do not just freeze prices and expect everyone to be really pleased with them for it.
A time where clubs refuse to pay players the obscene wages they pick up.
A time where clubs tell agents to stop taking such a ridiculous cut.
A time where clubs slash prices in half as a thank you and the feel good factor can kick in.
Who would not want full to the brim, atmospheric stadiums every week with football being played in front of the working class fans who deserve a bit of entertainment after a week at work? This is what football was. Now it is anything but. It is a business designed to bleed the consumers dry.
Without us fans, football is nothing. We must do everything we can to prove that point before everyone loses out, including the clubs.
Here is a look at the key statistics from the games of at the weekend:
Manchester City 1 Leicester City 3 – Title chasing City, Leicester that is, saw off their suffix sharing rivals with ease in a game that was supposed to be the beginning of the end in terms of a march towards the title for them. Superstar Riyad Mahrez became the first player in the Premier League this season to hit double figures for both goals and assists (14 goals, 10 assists) during this game. Let us hope the Foxes do not look back from this point.
Aston Villa 2 Norwich City 0 – A mini-revival from Villa continues while the Canaries are yet to bag a clean sheet on the road this season.
Liverpool 2 Sunderland 2 – The home side threw away a two goal lead in this one. Liverpool have conceded (1.44 goals per game) well above the league average this season (1.3 goals per game).
Newcastle United 1 West Bromwich Albion 0 – The Baggies suffered again this week as they failed to register a single shot on target in their third outing of their last four Premier League games. Poor.
Stoke City 0 Everton 3 – Aaron Lennon netted in this one to take his tally to three in three games. Stoke have hit a bit of a slump and have won just one game out of their last six in the top flight.
Swansea City 1 Crystal Palace 1 – The Eagles are yet to win a Premier League game in 2016. Their last three points came in a victory at Stoke City on 19th December (1-2).
Tottenham Hotspur 1 Watford 0 – The away side have failed to score in four of their last five games (two in total) after netting eight in their previous five fixtures before that.
Southampton 1 West Ham United 0 – Having seen this used by BBC at the weekend I had to use it – ‘Following his red card in this game Victor Wanyama is the seventh player to be sent off three times in the same Premier League season, joining Vinnie Jones, David Batty, Slaven Bilic, Craig Short, Frank Queudrue and Wes Brown.’
Bournemouth 0 Arsenal 2 – The Gunners completed the double over their opponents in this one having won the first tie by the same score line at The Emirates.
Chelsea 1 Manchester United 1 – Despite conceding in stoppage time to Diego Costa, the Red Devils have the joint second best defence in the league having conceded just 22 all season.