"What did you make of John Henry's comments on Anfield redevelopment?"
The team’s playing well, confidence in the manager is high, we’ve opened our new Main Stand; everything’s going okay so here comes someone from FSG to piss on everybody’s chips. John Henry’s comments, that the Anny Road expansion might not happen because of the ticket protest, shows once again how tone deaf FSG are to the plight of the modern football fan.
Henry was talking in New York where the Red Sox are playing the Yankees before the end of the regular season. The Red Sox will make the post-season and are a real threat to win the World Series. They’ll pack out Fenway Park for that and the secondary ticket market will hike up the tickets and no one will baulk at the prices. Why? Because US fans don’t look at ticketing like we do here. There it’s expected to pay top dollar to a big event, whether it’s worth it or not. Here, we expect things to be priced in reasonable relation to other events and, crucially, not to bankrupt us every time we go.
This is where FSG just don’t get it. They were apparently taken aback by the protest last year; that means they never bothered listening to the umpteen fan groups that told them that the prices were too high. They might be trying to attract the kind of customer that exists in the US but it doesn’t exist in British football culture.
Henry’s remarks smack of petulance, almost like “it’s your fault this is happening, you kyboshed our plans so either accept high prices or have no new stand.” It ignores that the season ticket list is currently closed because demand is too high. They have over 20,000 fans waiting for a season ticket; if even half of them took the option then the new expansion would be covered. But that’s not what FSG are interested in, they want more corporate clients, more people willing to be over-priced costs for a seat in the ‘LFC Craig Johnston Surfboard Lounge’ and not people who turn up late and buy little.
That ignores the fact that if we could 1) pay reasonable prices for decent alcohol 2) get served in under 10 minutes and 3) have a decent area to stand in, we might actually go in earlier. But again, that’s not the goal. You can pay $10 for a beer in a US ballpark – think of the mark-up profit!
No, John. The only reason the Anny Road wouldn’t go ahead is because you might have to fill it with regular fans who want to pay regular prices, and that’s not who you want is it? Feel good factor? Hang on, here comes FSG! Get ready to duck and cover.
F$G's head honcho casually slipped an indirect ultimatum to Reds into his stateside interview about redeveloping the Anny Road today: wind your necks in and pay up - or else!
Frankly, I'm sick of people who aren't Liverpool fans telling us how to behave. Whether it's when to sing or what to protest about, no-one has the right to tell the fans what to do. We were here before you, we got rid of the last lot and we'll be here when you're gone. It's our club, not yours. Shanks' holy trinity explicitly did not include the money men, but this whopper clearly never got the memo.
John Henry loves all that "custodians" bollocks, but what he really means is he wants to milk the golden calf for all it's worth while keeping the natives sedate. A rare slip of the tongue appears to have revealed his true colours now though: if you want more fans in here, it'll cost you.
Well if more fans means empty corporate seats or arseholes who stay at the bar for the second half like at Hull and Leicester respectively, then you can keep 'em. More seats should be used to renew that "storied" culture you keep rattling on about, not to mention use to "monetise the brand" at every opportunity.
If F$G were real custodians they would want to make the club accessible for kids and teens rather than corporate free-loaders. Rail seating/safe standing - or even just more seats - in The Kop or Anny Road could increase capacity significantly allowing young fans easier access for a lower price with the extra capacity offsetting the drop in ticket price - which of course shouldn't matter anyway in the context of this bloated, obese TV deal.
Look around Anfield these days. Barely a teenager in sight. Back in the 80s it was full of them. Fifteen of us would get the train over to Sandhills, walk up to the chippy and then get in the queue on the Lads' gate for £1.50 entry. We then all stood together and had a fucking great time watching boss football. That was the life blood of our support but now it's long gone.
If the manager is sniffy about our vocal support, maybe he should ditch the lectures to those who fork out thousands to watch pampered millionaires lose and play badly (because that's been the norm for years, one Luis-inspired blip notwithstanding, no matter how cautiously optimistic six matches this year have made us). Maybe instead he should tell his employers that the best way to revitalise Anfield is to cut costs and get the kids in thereby wiping away in one fell swoop all the cynicism about this bloated, avaricious game we all secretly wish we could reject but can't.
But no. John Henry wants to make veiled threats about our legitimate complaints. You'd think he'd tread just a little more carefully after recalling the circumstances that led to his acquisition of Liverpool, but clearly not even the minor burns on his fingers from the Main Stand pricing debacle made a big enough impression.
He wants to be careful though. Not a single Red I know thinks we owe him and his mates a thing, but I know plenty who would turn on them in a second if they push us too far.
So take some advice then John: stop fucking pushing. Listen to the fans. Understand you're not in America and this isn't baseball. We are Liverpool, not you and we want to watch our club. Using that as a stick to beat us with is likely to end up with you metaphorically getting whacked in the face.
Football is not all about money; it's about a certain culture and Liverpool's is one of the strongest. How about you start appreciating that fact then? After all, that culture is the very reason why you bought us in the first place.
There's not much to add to what the lads have already put so brilliantly and passionately. I agree with all of the above and only an idiot would argue that FSG aren't in this for the money.
I'm not talking about short term, dip your hands in the till and trouser a load of transfer cash type thing, that's not what they're doing and to date they haven't taken a penny for themselves. That's not what they do, their whole plan involves raising the value of the club to eventually sell on for a huge profit.
It's not ideal, but I could live with that as long as they at least showed certain considerations to the fans, without whom their asset wouldn't be worth jack shit. They don't though.
When they announced the ticket price increase last season, those of us who spoke out against it (and indeed voted with our feet by walking out) were sneeringly told by some (usually those that never have to pay these prices as they never set foot inside Anfield) that this price increase was necessary if we wanted to be able to compete for the top players.
The argument was nonsensical, they didn't need that extra couple of mil the increase would bring to buy new players. They didn't 'need' it at all, they just wanted it. The ticket revenues were a drop in the ocean compared to the massive brand spanking new TV deal that was about to kick in, and they could have lowered prices massively and still been much better off than they were before the new TV deal, but still some know alls told us that if we wanted the top players then we'd need to stump up more for our tickets.
Yet despite all this extra cash the club didn't go on a massive transfer splurge this summer, they actually made a profit. In principle I'm good with that. If Kloppo can sign the centre half he wants on a Bosman instead of lashing £20m on one, great. If he can sign a keeper he likes for a pittance because of a release clause in his contract, jobs a good un. And if we can somehow persuade Bournemouth to pay £20m for a couple of lads who have no future here, well who am I to sniff at that?
If we can improve on the cheap, I'm all in favour of that. What I object to is that despite them bringing in all this money to compliment the massive TV deal, the fans don't get to wet our beaks even just a little. Where's our taste, John? Where's our taste?
While the club's balance sheet looks healthier than ever, we continue to get bled dry. You know how much my ticket is for a League Cup game this year? Fifty nine fucking quid. I emailed the club last week to tell them to shove it and to cancel my autocup membership. They just ignored the email and took the money anyway.
Why should they care if loyal fans who have been going to Anfield for years continue to walk away because they're being priced out. It's not their problem, because for now at least there are enough people waiting in the wings to take up any tickets that become available. And by the time that well has run dry (and it will) they'll be long gone, having trebled or quadrupled their original investment.