A week after the club revealed plans to raise some main stand tickets to a league-high £77, supporters’ group Spion Kop 1906, with the support of Spirt of Shankly, are attempting to organise a mass walk-out in the 77th minute of Saturday’s match against Sunderland in protest.
"Saturday is your chance to make you feelings known," said the group via social media. "Unhappy with the prices for next season? Then walk out. Seventy-seven [is] a number associated with Liverpool Football Club. From Rome ’77 to £77 a ticket, [so] let’s give the number 77 meaning on Saturday."
It’s clear that the club’s decision to raise some lower main stand seats to £77 isn’t sitting well with many supporters, but in all the noise, that more than half the seats at Anfield will either have their prices frozen next season of see a decrease—with a full 45% of tickets getting cheaper—has sometimes been lost.
Those tickets that are going up in price mostly aren’t going up all that much, either, and in many cases are simply keeping pace with inflation over the past few seasons. In fact, the cheapest season ticket on the Kop next season will be £65 cheaper than it was in 2011 when taking inflation into account.
In real money terms, that cheapest ticket will be £7 more expensive than five years ago. In any case, like most of the changes next season, the movement is marginal and hardly seems worth protests and the organisation of mass walk-outs as though the club had been transported back to the Hicks and Gillett era.
That £77 makes for a strong rallying cry, though. It has also led to more than a few spurious comparisons that have further riled many people up. Comparisons have in particular been made to the German clubs, fans pointing to Bayern Munich’s desire to keep ticket prices down and that Dortmund’s most loyal support pays €16-20.
Little is made of the fact that Bayern’s most expensive single tickets run to €70 and Dortmund’s to €65, while those cheap supporters’ tickets are standing tickets on the yellow wall. By comparison, the Kop runs from £30 to £48 depending on location and opponent in the Premier League.
Those prices are undoubtedly higher than in supporters sections in Germany—much higher—but next season won’t see them rising dramatically. Or at all in many cases. Plus, they’re seats, meaning the Kop has a far lower density of tickets that can be sold than the German clubs with safe standing do.
For a significant reduction of costs for supporters in England, safe standing would have to be introduced—something many Liverpool fans remain against. Their reasons are understandable, but the financial reality of not having safe standing in England makes ticket price comparisons to supporters’ sections in Germany useless.
"We’re right behind the action of Spion Kop 1906," read a statement from Spirt of Shankly on Saturday's planned walkout. "We need to stand together, all supporters, or prices will never change. We will also be announcing action for supporters not at the match or unable to take part."
Rising costs for the best seats at Anfield, and the sticker shock of £77 tickets, have clearly gone over terribly with fans. There’s no doubt, too, that football in England has largely priced out grassroots support over the years—and the negative impact this has had on matchday atmosphere league-wide is hard to overstate.
There are very real issues surrounding high ticket prices and access in England. Having the top end seats, seats already targeted at the so-called prawn sandwich brigade, rise to £77 in part to fund freezes and decreases elsewhere—including 1,000 cheap tickets per league match and subsidies for young, local supporters—doesn’t seem as though it should be the rallying point.
Perhaps, though, now that it has become something of one, the end results will be positive for fans league-wide and not simply become an excuse for a round of chanting "Yanks Out" because a few seats already well beyond the reach of most fans just got more expensive.