I said I'm sorry baby, I'm leaving you tonight
I found someone new, he's waiting in the car outside
Ah how could you do it? We swore each other everlasting love
I said yeah I know but when we did
There was one thing we weren't thinking of
And that's money
Money changes everything- Cyndi Lauper, Money Changes Everything (1983)
Transfer deadline day always brings with it a heaping dose of silliness, and this year was no different, with the Alex Teixeira saga sucking up most of the oxygen in Liverpool supporters' chat rooms and fan forums. Rumours of Denis Cheryshev and Mauro Icardi turned out to be mirages, while Jose Enrique shockingly continues somehow to be very real and very much a Liverpool player. Although negotiations with Shakhtar Donetsk for Teixeira had unsurprisingly broken down, there was still some hope that a deal for the summer might be on the cards.
Enter Jiangsu Suning F.C., who just walked right into the damn joint and casually flipped over Liverpool's table and cards, picking up Teixeira mere moments after having strolled into Chelsea's shop and saying, "We'll have one Ramires to go, and do you gift wrap?" Elsewhere, Jiangsu's fellow Chinese Super League club Guangzhou Evergrande were busy completing the acquisition of Colombian forward Jackson Martinez for an eye-watering €42 million. When reports of the astronomical wages offered to these players found their way into the press, there was predictably much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth over the new economic muscles being flexed in the east.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger offered one of the more level-headed takes, noting that other leagues and clubs (looking at you, Anzhi Makhachkala) had flashed their platinum credit cards in the past, only to fall back into some semblance of fiscal responsibility once the bills started coming in. Wenger did concede that the current wave of aggressive spending from Chinese clubs could inflate transfer prices for European clubs even more, and that a £100m price tag was not outside the realm of possibility, even if your name isn't Gareth Frank Bale.
For those more inclined towards hysteria, the Teixeira business was a veritable gold mine of hot takes. Some supporters bemoaned Liverpool's humbling in the transfer market, complaining that the club had allowed itself to be outmuscled by upstarts, and resurrecting the old "lacks ambition" chestnut. Others saw the move as evidence that Teixeira is a soulless mercenary who couldn't possibly have the motivation to succeed in the Premier League.
There's little reason to doubt that raising his profile in the Brazilian national team picture was a priority for Teixeira. And perhaps it still is. But like most other people, football players have many priorities, some of which extend beyond professional aspirations. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp succinctly reminded observers of this fact when he noted "if you are 26 and get an offer like that everyone would think about it" and that "now there are a few problems less for the next generation of Teixeiras."
Over the rest of the week, money continued to be a hot topic of conversation even after plucky underdogs Liverpool failed in their giant-killing exploits against league leaders Leicester City. First, there was news of a partnership deal with fantasy sports platform DraftKings. The club's official announcement was careful to describe their new partner's platform as one where "fans can test their sports expertise against each other," thus staying on the safer side of U.S. online gambling regulations.
If there were faint grumblings in some quarters about the DraftKing partnership, the volume got turned up to eleven when Liverpool announced a new ticket price structure under which some seats in the redeveloped Main Stand would cost £77 next season. The news elicited a fierce response from certain supporters' groups, culminating in a 77th minute walkout from Anfield during Liverpool's weekend fixture against Sunderland. Those groups have warned of further action beyond Saturday's walkout, thus guaranteeing that ticket prices will continue to be debated against the backdrop of a sputtering league campaign.
Pundits and former players chimed in, mostly echoing supporters' concerns and slathering on another layer of lamentation about the current state of English football. In fairness, the concerns and complaints are not without merit, but neither are they unique to Liverpool. Depending on whom you ask and whose numbers you look at, Liverpool's matchday revenue likely accounts for somewhere between fifteen and twenty-five percent of the club's total revenue. As is the case with other prominent Premier League clubs, this fraction is shrinking in comparison to broadcasting and other commercial revenue.
From a distance, the optics might suggest that, given the various other revenue streams, ticket price increases are unwarranted. Most casual observers will not, however, be able to definitively say what the consequences might be of not reconfiguring ticket prices. Amid the recent furore, few have bothered to note that the club has reported a profit just once over the past seven years. And that that one-time profit was of only £900k.
Clubs like Liverpool always struggle with the impossible task of keeping a diverse, generally well-informed, and emotionally invested fanbase just happy enough to stay on board. There are precious few clubs who have the freedom to fully embrace the ideals of their supporters while also serving the interests of the product on the pitch. F.C. St. Pauli in Germany might be one of the most notable examples of such a club. While most Liverpool supporters are not quite yet ready to raise the "FSG Out" banners, those thinking it just might be time to do so might want to look at how St. Pauli has fared on the pitch in recent years.