For too long supporters have been exploited with their loyalty taken for granted. Ticket prices have risen far beyond inflation and this has already seen supporters priced out of their game. With the ever increasing money in the modern English game, the benefits for supporters should be improving alongside the increase in wealth. But instead the football clubs and authorities rely on the rivalries of supporters to allow them to exploit those same supporters.
In the FA's 150th year we find that the ethos of the game in this country does not represent the same values with which the game was formed. Clubs tell us they need more money to be able to compete, that they need to charge more for tickets because other clubs do. The Premier League tell us that it is the clubs' choice and that they are powerless in changing anything. All parties hide behind excuses expecting supporters to just accept them and begrudgingly continue to pay the high ticket prices to pay high paid footballers further extortionate amounts. They expect us to want to pay more to be able to pay a footballer who wears our shirt for a brief time even more money in the hope that it allows the club to finish higher to get even more money to pay those footballers even more.
Supporters from different clubs are uniting to make a stand so that clubs cannot use the line they charge more so we have to, or that the Premier League cannot just say well attendances are good so everyone must be happy. In May 2013, we organised a meeting in Liverpool and in London on the issue in which supporters from different clubs came together to discuss the issues. The following actions where agreed:
Joint action by supporters of all clubs at the Premier League Headquarters in London on the 19th June, which marks the day of the 2013/14 fixtures release.
Joint action by supporters of all clubs targeting Premier League sponsors such as Sky and Barclays. This also included mention of sponsors such as Chevrolet, who sponsor both Liverpool and Manchester United.
Bring supporter representatives together to work and act as one, using existing channels such as the Football Supporters’ Federation and Supporters’ Direct where possible.
These actions are just the start. Supporters from all clubs are now saying Enough is Enough and that Football Without Fans is Nothing.
To learn more about the reasons behind the campaign, watch the video from the #FootballWithoutFansIsNothing meeting in Liverpool and the text below:
League Title victors celebrate again
The Guardian. Monday 21st May 2033
“As the players paraded the Barclays – Coca Cola - Gazprom League trophy around the pitch, the supporters in the Apple iPad 12 stadium broke out into polite applause. This was their 3rd consecutive league title. The trophies have taken pride of place in the trophy room, alongside the £200 million winner’s cheque. As Steven Rooney Beckham Johnson, the first £1million pound a week footballer, walked up to collect his 24 carat gold player of the year award, supporters in the Wal-Mart home stand were seen to be openly weeping with pride, as they recognised the vital part their £8,000 season tickets had played, in contributing to just a fraction of their star player’s wages.
Just down the road, in the pub where the club was formed nearly 150 years ago, supporters were also weeping. It was mixed emotions for them. Their joy at seeing the side they had supported as youngsters have further success, their sadness at realising they could no longer afford to go to games, and that they were now one of the priced-out, used-to-go group. They cling on, out of hope more than expectation. They are a dying breed. Their children, unable to afford the costly ticket prices, have broken the family tradition of supporting the club based in their community. It’s no longer a tradition passed on from generation to generation. Many now play, and follow, other sports, some none at all. A hardened few have set up their own local football team, enabling them to live the experience and recreate the stories they have been told, of the years gone by, on their own terms.”
Some will have read that futuristic report and laughed, while others might feel the dread and fear of what could happen and what the future holds for the club they support. Some may think that it’s over-dramatic, yet a growing number of supporters sit there with an acceptance of what is inevitable if football carries on as it is.
Whatever your view, it is an inescapable fact that football has changed, some things for the better, some not so. One of the changes is the amount of money in football today. It keeps increasing, reaching ever higher amounts. Billion pound TV deals. Hundred million pound stadium and training ground sponsorship deals. Tens of millions of pounds in merchandise and sponsorship deals. Million pound meaningless football matches on other continents. Each and every year.
Football clubs get more money now than they could ever have imagined. Under the new TV deal announced earlier this year, the team finishing last in the Premier League next season will likely receive around £60million. Just from TV money, nothing else. Yet this is the same amount of money that Manchester City received only last season for winning the Premier League. Next season’s Premier League winners will receive nearly £100million pound from the new TV deal. This isn’t just an increase, it’s a giant leap.
Yet despite this new found wealth, football supporters are being squeezed more than ever. Ticket prices have risen on average 716% since 1989. At Anfield, they’ve gone up 1108% in that time. To put that in perspective, the Bank of England’s official inflation rate for this period is only 77.1%. It’s clear that the price of football exists in its own bubble. Using this rate of inflation, a £60 season ticket at Anfield in 1989 should only cost you £106 today. This season it cost £725. If it continues to increase by the same rate of inflation, the same season ticket would cost £8,033 in 20 years time.
Take a minute to apply the same rate of inflation in football to everyday items. Or take a look at this from the lad’s at STAND AMF which shows just how much things would cost with football’s own rate of inflation applied.
These ticket price rises would be easier to understand if the pay of supporters who buy the tickets had kept up with the same rates. But as many know, this isn’t the case. Average wages in the UK have risen 186% between 1992 and 2010 according to the High Pay Centre. Wages just haven’t kept up with the increase in football ticket prices. The Taylor Report said tickets should remain in reach [in cost terms] of those supporters who stood on the terraces. Ask yourself – is this the case?
In the same period footballer’s wages increased 1508%. So the increased revenue from ticket prices, TV deals and sponsorship is being shovelled into the back pockets of footballers and into the coffers of the football cartel. In fact the increased revenue from ticket price rises at Anfield this year amounts to approximately 1% of the club’s wage bill. A tiny increase that threatens a lifetime of support and loyalty.
Talk of a new stadium and more seats won’t be for the average supporter – like you and me - who is being forced out of watching the game. It won’t mean cheaper tickets. It means more money from more people to pay more, increasingly obscene, footballer salaries. 70% of a club’s turnover now goes to players, an increase from less than 50% in 1997.
It isn’t just in the price of football that we see the game becoming increasingly removed from the people who make it what it is. Supporters travelling to the playoff game between Crystal Palace and Brighton this weekend are being told they need ID to get into the stadium and are being threatened with bans if they don’t comply. It’s a throwback to the draconian ID card programme proposed by the Thatcher Government of the 80’s. Supporters are policed differently to the rest of society – draconian laws and legislation that differentiate how they can act and behave in comparison to how those who go to festivals, carnivals and even other sporting events. Maybe they don’t want our support after all?
So we face a choice – do we accept what is happening? Do we sit back and say “There’s nothing you can do about it”? Or do we challenge the way it is? Ask questions of those in power. Ask for it to be a different way.
Football clubs, football authorities, sponsors, players – they all talk of the importance of supporters. They call on us in their hour of need, during vital games or in pushes to win trophies or avoid relegation. They market themselves on us – crowd displays, 12th man, the noise, the passion. Yet what do we get back? It’s time we asked something of them – to make small sacrifices that will make a huge difference to us.
So let’s tell our clubs. Let’s tell the FA and Premier League. Let’s tell Barclays and Sky. Let’s tell them that we, the supporters, aren’t happy with being taken for granted. We aren’t happy with being piggy banks that they raid when they want to pay millionaires an extra few thousand pound a week. Let’s tell them we don’t want them using our support to market themselves if we don’t get something from it.
Let’s tell them £nough is £nough.
Take the message back to your own clubs. Supporters of all clubs can work together for the common good. Our unity will give us strength and will give us power. The time for divisions and tribalism will remain – in football stadiums, in pubs, on message boards and in work places. For now, we need to stand together and work together. If we don’t, we will never win. Football will change, beyond recognition. It will become a brand, a business more important than the sport. Supporters will walk away. And there will be nothing left.
If we stand together and act together – just imagine how different it could be. We might even see a supporter owned club win the European Cup one day…