Tactics could hold the key to football fans winning their battle against escalating ticket prices.
In the aftermath of the 77th minute walkout by Liverpool fans in protest at the £77 price being suggested by the Anfield club for some of their seating next season, there was an interesting conflict of opinion.
Where many fans on radio call-in shows gave the Liverpool fans 100 per cent approval for what they had done, a minority dared to ask what had they actually achieved?
It was a good point and one caller spelled out the situation perfectly.
A Liverpool fan, he pointed out that by being in the ground to walkout out those fans had already paid for their ticket and he suggested that the owners of football clubs couldn’t give a damn what time you leave the ground so long as they have already got your money in their bank account.
There is no doubt that the Reds supporters protest was justified and gave the hornets nest a gentle kick, but it would appear that slightly more extreme measures could be needed to really sting club owners into action.
In many ways the problem particularly applies to the Premier League – though Championship matchday pricing is ever on the increase – and at the top clubs the idea of the casual supporters rolling up to pay at a turnstile has all but died.
So with season tickets and pre-match ticket purchasing in place, protests within the grounds mean that fans have already paid up to make whatever brand of protest they choose.
Manchester City fans the other season boycotted an away game at Arsenal in protest at the £66 price of a matchday ticket, but arguably this also probably didn’t inconvenience the money men at Arsenal who will have done their figures based on the home fans they can rely on attending, with away supporters merely supplying an added matchday bonus.
However, staying away from the grounds so money has not already changed hands would appear to be one of the possible ways forward.
This again poses problems as season ticket holders are hardly likely to want to boycott a game having already paid to watch.
But the truth is that many of the big clubs owners, who will happily take next season’s huge hike in television revenue without changing their stance on ticket prices, are not going to take any real notice until fans hit them in the one place it hurts – in their wallets.
Maybe fans groups already have plans afoot, but my suggestion would be a one week boycott – preferably where there are midweek Premier League games so the point can be made at as many grounds as possible – where fans stay away and if they are desperate for a football fix go and spend the money at a local lower division or non-League club and give the grassroots a welcome boost.