This morning the new Liverpool Commercial Director, Ian Ayre, sent a letter out to all 10,000 Liverpool fans that have signed up to the Priority Ticket Scheme (PTS) informing them that the scheme is to be disbanded for next season. This is a scheme that costs each fan Â£55 a year to join for the “privilege” of having access to 5,000 tickets for each game at Anfield. In theory, giving each PTS member a 50% chance of a ticket for each game.
This scheme has been in place for a number of years now, with the reasons given for disbanding is being:
1. 25% of the PTS membership didn’t purchase a single ticket last season
2. 50% of the PTS membership purchased tickets for 3 games or less last season
What he failed to mention in his letter or consider in his decision making, is that means 5,000 of the membership attended 3 games or less; therefore the remaining 5,000 must be purchasing the 5,000 tickets every single week. Those 5,000 fans have been turning up every week for years for midweek games against Fulham and Portsmouth, as well as the bigger and more glamorous fixtures.
Their reward for that loyalty?
Having the scheme scrapped and being told they are now being placed into a new “Belong” scheme which already has 50,000 signed up members; so are now going to be fighting with over 50,000 other fans for those same 5,000 tickets. The “Belong” scheme is open to anybody, as long as you pay the Â£29 subscription fee every year. So any of you reading this could sign up and stand an equal chance of a ticket as somebody who hasn’t missed a game at Anfield in years. It stinks.
Ian Ayre even signed off his letter with “thank you for your loyalty and support”. Oh the irony.
A few calculations.
10,000 members paying Â£55 each = Â£550,000
60,000 members paying Â£29 each = Â£1,740,000
That’s an extra Â£1.2m in additional revenue for the club each season just for giving fans the right to apply for a ticket.
Anfield currently has around 27,000 season ticket holders in a ground that holds 45,000. Take away 3,000 for away fans and that leaves around 15,000 tickets on sale for every game. The club don’t want the same 40,000 turning up every week. They want outsiders that’ll turn up once or twice a season and empty their wallets in the club shop.
5,000 of those remaining 15,000 are put aside for the PTS scheme, thousands more allocated to supporters clubs all over the country, with whatever is left going on general sale to fancard holders. How the ticket / touting agencies all over Europe get their tickets is for another time.
Liverpool linked up with Thomas Cook last season to offer fans “packages” including match tickets and a hotel at a vastly inflated price. Booking the hotel yourself and buying your own ticket would cost you around Â£80. Book the same hotel and be supplied your match ticket though Thomas Cook and you’ll be charged over Â£150. Legalised touting with LFC supplying the tickets? One rule for one…
Year upon year we see the make up of the fan base change. More and more corporates. More and more “new fans” wanting to sample the Anfield experience. More and more of those fans that create that atmosphere and experience being driven from the ground. This is yet another kick in the teeth for those 5,000 fans that have been going to Anfield week in week out for the past few years, who’ll now have around a 1 in 10 chance of a ticket for a home game next season. A lot just won’t bother.
But what do the club care? They have 50,000 fans signed up to that scheme and will sell those tickets regardless.
Sooner or later Anfield will just be another football ground. Anfield is famous worldwide for it’s unique atmosphere and support. “We are the famous Kopites”. Well those Kopites will soon be gone and replaced with yet more “spectators” turning up to be entertained. Only there’ll be nobody left to entertain them but the 11 men on the pitch. Maybe then the club will have to revert to mascots, whipping up the crowd over the PA and handing out plastic flags to manufacture that atmosphere like has happened at other clubs all over the country.
Anfield still has an identity. It still has a soul.
Is an extra Â£1.2m a year worth losing that?
Someone seems to think so.