Words by: Rory Bentham – Spirit of Shankly
With an estimated 10,000 fans walking out of Anfield at the weekend, protesting the club’s plans for ticket prices in 2016/17, FSF national council member and Spirit of Shankly activist Roy Bentham gives his take on the protest and why fans must keep up the pressure…
Anfield on Saturday saw a major demonstration over ever-escalating ticket prices in the Premier League.
Pricing structures disclosed this week by Liverpool FC will see £77 tickets being bestowed on the fans next season. Season tickets will also top £1,000 for the first time ever.
Pre-match, the usual array of colourful flags on the Kop were replaced by black flags and an assortment of eye catching protest banners.
Conservative estimates of 10-15,000 fans were widely reported in the press to have left the ground on 77 minutes over these extortionate new price proposals by American owners and hedge funders Fenway Sports Group.
The walkout was wholly unique to Liverpool Football Club and a game at the famous old stadium.
It was also hailed a massive success with positive coverage both regionally and nationally with the mainstream press including BBC, Sky Sports and Talksport giving it plenty of airtime.
Further actions in and around the ground are currently being discussed between Spion Kop 1906 and Spirit of Shankly, the two fan organisations who co-ordinated the day’s events. LFC sponsors are currently being targeted too. The fast food chain Subway will be first in the firing line.
Messages of support from other fans groups including Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust, Arsenal Supporters Trust, Everton Supporters Trust, Manchester United Supporters Trust, MCFC1894 along with the Sunderland fans present at the stadium on the day who also clapped in support.
A whole host of other fan groups sent best wishes, Aston Villa and West Ham being just a few. Lower League fans also wished us every success with it.
The Football Supporters’ Federation and Football Supporters’ Europe also sent messages of solidarity with David Ginola stating the following on French TV:
“You have to remember that football is a working class sport. For people, £77 is a lot of money. Liverpool is a working class city, that is a huge amount of money to spend. Too much for a family.”
Political support came from John McDonnell the Shadow Chancellor and who is also a lifelong Liverpool supporter.
“In the Liverpool spirit I hope that the club will get round the table with supporters and work out a deal that doesn’t price local fans out of the game,” McDonnell said.
TV money from home and overseas rights negotiated for next season to the tune of an eye watering £8.3bn will be carved up between the top tier clubs next month in London.
The FSF has long argued these astronomical figures should see major reductions across the teams as opposed to sharp hikes like the Liverpool’s owners have now pushed through.
The actions of Saturday will not only reverberate around Boston stateside, where the owners of the club reside, but all of the Premier League chairman offices along with the FA Premier League headquarters in Gloucester Place.
It’s imperative that the Liverpool supporters win this battle for affordable football. The ramifications for other fans around the country will be massive.
For future generations of match goers, it’s a war on greed we cannot afford to lose.