The price of football has risen to extraordinary high levels. Liverpool games at Anfield are now in excess of £50 and some away games have seen prices of up to £63 (Arsenal, the culprits with that one).
Spirit of Shankly recently responded to a new tiered ticket pricing structure at the club with contempt, pointing out that Reds supporters have been short-changed more than most football fans. They said in a statement in March:
The Union maintains that the proposed increases are an insult to long-standing supporters, flying in the face of economic reality and adding further to the 1108% price increase, against a football wide average of 716%, Liverpool supporters have endured since 1989. So much for Lord Justice Taylor’s Hillsborough report saying that “it should be possible to plan a price structure which suits the cheapest seats to the pockets of those presently paying to stand.”
The club and league might try to justify the inflated ticket prices in saying football is a very different game to what it was in 1989. The standard of elite football has surely improved; footballers are paid more, they are now much more athletes than ever before and the worldwide brand of both the Premier League and Liverpool FC has expanded thousands of times over. It’s a global business.
The 2012/13 season has been my first season as a Liverpool season ticket holder, after being on the waiting list for almost 15 years. My season ticket in the Lower Centenary is rising by £70 to £850 next season, and it must be paid by the end of May – almost three months before the first game of the season. My job and family mean I live away from Liverpool – about an hour and a half’s drive away from the ground. So add another £30 for petrol, parking, food and drink per matchday and I’m looking at a minimum of £1420 for watch Liverpool’s home league games next campaign.
I’m lucky that I can afford, albeit begrudgingly, my season ticket next season. I’m also lucky in that I have a job. It doesn’t pay fantastically, but it’s a job in these hard times. I don’t have children to support, so it’s just about affordable for me. Therefore, I completely sympathise with fans and the terrible rising ticket prices, especially when you add on the booking fees and hassle of buying on a match-by-match basis (my headaches have cleared this season not listening to ‘Fields of Anfield Road’ on repeat for hours at a time on the ticket office phone line).
I also completely sympathise with fans who has simply been priced out of watching the football club that runs through their blood and want it to run through the blood of their children, and their children’s’ children.
But I encourage you not to give up on football.
There’s a lot of things wrong with the sport, especially in England right now. I don’t know why I bother with it half the time. But it’s still engrained in all of us.
It still makes us passionate. It lifts us and deflates us at the same time. It keeps us alive. And so does Liverpool Football Club.
Here, I have complied a short list (just the three bullet points) of how you can still watch affordable football proudly with the Liverbird upon your chest.
Liverpool U21s in the Barclays U21s Premier League
The Liverpool U21s is the relatively new name for the Liverpool Reserves. The league they play in was rebranded as an Under-21s league by the Football Association a year or so ago. Games are broadcast live on LFC TV and are either free or under £5 to go to.
Watch the emerging stars of the Liverpool first team get match experience against the cream of other club’s youngsters, with a few veterans thrown in for fun (Joe Cole played for the Reds U21 team last year). Raheem Sterling, Suso, Shelvey and co. are all regulars right now.
Liverpool Ladies in the Women’s Super League
Anfield/Halton Stadium, Widness
£5 Adults; £2.50 Concessions; Free to Season Ticket holders
A lot of money has been pumped into the Liverpool Ladies team by the club’s American owners, with women’s football massive over the pond. They’ve signed a lot of players recently, and currently lie third in the Women’s Super League (a league made up of 8 teams).
Their season runs through the summer, until September. So with just three Premier League games left to go, you can continue to get your football fix beyond May 19th.
AFC Liverpool in the North West Counties Premier Division
Valerie Park, Prescott
£3.30 a game / £70 season ticket
The ‘A’ in AFC Liverpool stands for affordable and the club was set up in 2008 by around 1,000 Reds fans looking to make football affordable in the mould of Liverpool FC.
The club have three games left to play in the North West Counties Premier Division (level 9-10 on the football pyramid) this season and are looking at a mid-table finish. They also have a women’s team and several youth teams.