Mails: Proud to be a Liverpool fan (eurgh)

Date published: Tuesday 9th February 2016 3:22

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Proud of Liverpool
There has not been much to be proud of being a Liverpool fan of late. As high as the peaks of Mr Veneers’ title tilt* were it’s been mostly troughs, all things being relative. Indeed I felt so seperated from the club during the dark days of Suarez Vs Evra I genuinely came close to deciding not to follow the team anymore. Being an occasional match goer these days I am sure the club would not have missed my absence for one moment but I felt I had to make a stand. Eventually I decided and was able to dissasociate myself enough to realise I could celebrate Suarez’ immense footballing talent for what is was; pure genius. Not for one moment should that mean I was condoning his actions all the same and I filed him under tainted genius. As we all do with a good many players at every single club up and down the land.

As a result of Walkout77 I am once more rather proud to be associated with such a great club. As abject as Mignolet is, chucking them in game after game, I realised yesterday we might be pretty sh*t but you simply cannot beat us when it comes to a mural or a protest! Not for us waving those hilarious green&gold scarves from the Worst Fans In The World TM…we actually did something proper about it. And by the sounds of it other supporters groups will climb on board. Who knows where it will end but it was always going to be us who did it properly first; wasn’t it? Bravo, la.

Equally it was always going to be a Gooner who called Dortmund small. Wasn’t it!? Why are they so unsufferably smug!? FYI JazGooner: Dortmund are unquestioningly a bigger club than Arsenal. ‘Cos you know, they’ve won the European Cup (unlike your mob) and you know, have a bigger stadium and, you know have won their title the 3rd most times and, you know sit a mere 1 (one) place beneath your European titans in the UEFA coefficient… But yeah, Dortmund are tiny and Arsenal are just the biggest, bestest club in the whole, whole wide world EVER!!! Tit.

* The job offers he turned down were Colgate, Invisalign, Sonicare etc, etc… Weren’t they?
Gregory Whitehead, LFC

 

The worth of ‘fans’
Lots of debate about the price of football this week, which I believe to be a good thing. However, I think everyone involved (the fans, the club, the authorities) needs to step back and have a long, hard think about the worth of fans.

The fans themselves, I think it’s fair to say, are perhaps guilty of over-estimating their worth. Football fandom is a curious thing, tribal by its very nature. Moreover, there are levels of fandom. We hear how local fans are often valued higher than those in far-flung corners of the planet – you live in London and support United? Hmmm. Armchair fans are treated with derision by some, because if you don’t go to the game, how can you be a ‘proper’ fan? There is a sense of entitlement. ‘I was born around the corner and I’ve been coming here my whole life, therefore I should be rewarded with cheaper tickets. I don’t have a choice.’ Of course, all of the above can never apply to the whole spectrum of a club’s supporters. It’s far more complex than that. These are all (perhaps legitimate) gripes that I have seen and heard, however.

This view is incongruous to that of the clubs. But even that isn’t so straightforward. Clubs with a traditionally smaller and locally focused fan base are quite willing to give something back. Stoke are a good example. There are others. Then we have the ‘super clubs.’ United, Liverpool, and so-on. The fan base is global. People fly in from Europe solely to watch the game and go home again. They sell more shirts outside the UK than they do in it. The worth of the fans to these clubs is small. Why? Because the demand far, far outstrips the supply. I’m very much in the same boat as the guy who wrote in this morning. I support one of these super clubs, but I contribute as little as possible to their coffers because I don’t want to feel exploited. It’s not something that sits wells with me, but our biggest clubs are in the hands of businessmen. It is probably unreasonable to ask them to treat it like anything other than a business. Don’t like it? Don’t come. Someone else will. We cry foul about Liverpool trying to glean an extra £2 million a year from match day revenue when they are earning silly money from TV deals. That’s fair, but FSG can point to a balance sheet where match day revenue has increased by 3%. That looks great when they look to sell the club for more than they bought it for. Which is exactly what they will do, eventually.

These people are not stupid. They realise the importance of good PR, but they also realise that bad PR is easily forgotten when the fan (customer) base is ultimately extremely loyal (resilient to change). They’ll play the game, but they will always, always push to get more money out of supporters. Always.

I support one of these clubs, and when the price of a ticket climbed north of £25, I stopped going, because I don’t think it’s worth it. Yet there are thousands that will still go. Every single season ticket holder at Anfield could rip up their tickets tomorrow, and Liverpool would re-sell them without trouble. That is perhaps the saddest part of all of this. The clubs have all the power. They own the product, they determine the prices. FIFA mandates that the government can’t get involved. They have unity and solidity – look at the fuss created with UEFA tried to impose financial restrictions on the top clubs.

By contrast, the fans have none of this. They are divided. Tribal behavior between rival sets of fans is natural, but there are divisions within the clubs themselves. An over-subscription of demand will push prices up in any capitalist country, which is exactly what’s happened with football. For anything to change, fans need almost complete unity. Empty stadia, cancellation of TV subscriptions, no buying merchandise. From everyone. A complete bursting of the bubble, fans across the country giving up their fix for the greater good. I’d love to see it happen, but as noble as the walkout at Anfield was, it’s only scratching the surface. More people stayed than left. I don’t live in hope of significant change any time soon. Complain, by all means, but until the fans get truly militant, protests like the one at Anfield soon become old news.
Andy, London

 

Ticketed off
First time writing to the mailbox, long time reader (over 10 years).

Following on from Paul Manchester email this morning, it got me thinking about the cost of going to see Manchester United play on a midweek, I live in Milton Keynes but work in London. For the Stoke game last week;

· I finished work early to catch the train from London (much to the annoyance of my employer)
· Booked train ticket at £220 return (apparently saving me £112 for early booking)
· Last train back from Manchester to London at 21:30, whilst the match finishes at 21:45 (go figure!!)
· This meant that I had to spend the night in Manchester, stayed at budget hotel with comfy pillows. Normal price is £55 per night, however due to Matchday, the price had increased to £110. (Booked 2 weeks in advance, would have been much more if booked later)
· Matchday Burger – £5
· Matchday ticket – £55
· Football souvenir’s from club shop for 2 young children £120.00
· Getting up at 05:00 next morning, to catch the 06:00 train to be at work for 09.00

So over going to see Manchester United play on Tuesday night cost me £510.00 (excluding drinks and snacks on the train)

Average fan not go to the football these days, not only the club charge you premium, the train companies, hotels are all bleeding the average fan out of football.

Tej, Milton Keynes
(Thank God the match was entertaining)

 

I enjoyed Paul, Manchester’s eloquent letter this morning and the question posed at the end of it (“how do we stop it?”) The issue is that football is an addiction and club owners are nothing more than a legalized version of drug dealers. People will pay whatever it takes, whether it’s the cut-to-ribbons paracetamol dished out at Aston Villa or something more high-grade at Arsenal or White Hart Lane. Sky and BT are no different, the former putting up the prices each year for less football, and still we buy. Yes there are different degrees of addiction, from your season ticket holder to someone who just watches MOTD, but for every person who walks out of Anfield, there are at least 4 who stay in their seats, like someone moaning about it being served up 0.7 of a gram but is still on the phone begging for more at 10pm on a Friday night. As with drugs, there is no answer beyond a long hard look in the mirror asking whether you have truly had enough. In most cases, football is the one release people have. How do you give that up?
Adriano, Dublin

 

The solution…
Just a quick thought on ticket prices, if it’s not been suggested already – spend your time and money with your local, non-league club’s matches, and watch the big games on the telly.

The reason ticket prices are spiralling out of the reaches of many football fans is due to television companies pumping obscene amounts of money into the game, and Premier League clubs then trying to match some proportion of this increased income with increased ticket revenue. So, make the most of all the big games being televised and watch them down the pub. It’s a lot easier getting a pint or using the facilities, and you can get home again much more easily.

For the atmosphere, for bonding with friends and family, and for creating a sustainable relationship with a club, get down to a local non-league game. The argument for Premier League football is that it’s of a higher quality than non-league but ultimately, if your team comes back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 it doesn’t matter what level of football you’re watching – it’s still going to be bloody brilliant.

Analogical fourth paragraph: eventually you’ve got to accept that Natalie Imbruglia isn’t going to go out with you because, like a ‘big’ Premier League club, she doesn’t know that you exist. Take down the official calendar from your bedroom wall and get a real girlfriend.
Dan, (although, Natalie, if you’re reading this…) Brighton

 

I know people talk about boycotts of games etc as the only way to send a message, but the practicalities of organising a whole round of games and the willingness to do so must be very slim.

At the very least, I would like to think the collective ‘WE’ could at least arrange to make a round of PL and lower down the pyramid games where no Away fans turn up to the matches. It might be seen as a futile meaningless gesture but probably easier and more likely to work to at least send some sort of message as to the important part the fans are to the game and helping create an atmosphere.

Thoughts?
Simon (Bristol Rovers, wondering if the Prem and Championship is even worth it)

 

Football is not the cinema
Just read the mail from Paul, Manchester, comparing a live football match with going to the flicks….jesus wept! This is comparable to Adrian Durham’s nonsense he spews to get angry callers onto SHOUTsport.

First off, going to football is a one-off, live event. Anything can happen, for the dire 0-0’s mentioned, you could easily be paying £70 for a barn storming 4-4 with world class goals, players at their peak & controversy. Walking up to the stadium not knowing what you are going to get is part of the excitement.

Secondly, have you seen the price of popcorn??

Moaning or protesting about the prices isn’t going to change things, no matter how “appropriate” it may seem. Fan groups have been talking to their clubs about this for years & years, nothing has changed and sadly it never will. You want to see top of the tree football, you’re going to have to pay for it. Don’t be so elitist that you only want to see exciting games with the world’s greatest players and then get narked at the cost. If you want to go to a match or take your kids, go to a lower league game. There’s just as much excitement, you get closer to the action and your cash is going somewhere it’s actually appreciated.

For me, the feeling I get pre-match, the atmosphere in the stadium, the constant hope something brilliant is going to happen, the ecstasy/anger of when a goal is scored, the nerves, the after-match autopsy….it’s the best feeling in the world, better than any drug (so I’m told) and well worth the money (much better than sitting in a dark room with a bunch of strangers eating too loudly).
Martyn P, COYS

 

Top prices: What do you expect?
I recently looked into taking my wife and two children to see a West End musical. I forget which one as I made a hasty retreat from that particular ‘investment’. I would have had to pay £30 for travel there and back, probably a meal before hand (£50?) and that’s before the tickets which would have amounted to over £400 for anything that wasn’t up in the rafters. This Sunday I am getting a train to London and heading to the Emirates where I will be paying £45 (share of a season ticket) to see Arsenal play the eventual champions Leicester City. In a pretty good seat too.

Now don’t get me wrong, that is a lot of money and I appreciate that’s one of the lower prices but I don’t think that’s too bad. I don’t HAVE to go but I want to. I invest far too much time into football and Arsenal in particular and so really a visit to see my team play should maybe be an occasional treat rather than a God given right. I’m sure my wife wouldn’t hang around for long if I went to every game, it isn’t plausible. Arsenal are still (just) in 3 competitions. That’s a hell of a lot of time in the year to be anywhere else other than with my family.

Seriously though, what does anyone expect? In a way football isn’t that different from a West end show whereby football is entertainment (albeit on a very regular basis). It just so happens that it has continued to grow and become the most popular and amazing sport in the world. We all know how the Chinese have finally noticed and will probably dwarf our current league, so with any business there are threats. With such a massive demand clubs can afford to limit the supply and raise prices. I know it annoys the fans profusely and maybe this isn’t the way to make it work but clubs have to evolve in order to grow. Someone mentioned the frog in boiling water analogy, well the Premier League is currently the very most popular in the world and in a way could be like the frog if it is complacent (wow, sorry for the stretching of that metaphor). Perhaps they need other suggestions to keep everyone happy all the time?

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that how can anyone expects anything different? Perhaps a positive could come out of this with fans trying out some more local clubs in the lower leagues? I know how that will be received but honestly, we’ve all bought into something that is universally popular beyond the realms of common sense. If you like regular football then try helping your local sides?

Maybe the football world is changing and we won’t be able to go as regularly as before? Maybe that’s a good thing? Who knows?
JazGooner

 

An alternate view
I’ve read much on the board these past few days about ticket pricing and I couldn’t agree less.

John Nic said: ‘…business people who run football clubs as though they are normal businesses.’ John, they are normal businesses. They are subject to the laws of supply, demand and price elasticity like any other product or service out there. If you don’t believe me, check with HMRC, creditors and the banks. Stop paying the bills and see what happens. Hearing fans bleat on like football should be placed in some socialist bubble is naïve.

Fans want the likes of Woodward, Ayre and Levy to be master negotiators (ha!) in the board room on transfer deadline day, be hard-nosed bastards when it comes to sacking underperforming managers, but act like Victorian philanthropic gentlemen when it comes to ticket pricing. Why?

As a lifelong LFC supporter, I have not been priced out of the game. Rather, I have been kept out of the game by season ticket holders. There is no way I could get a ticket to see Liverpool play a PL game at home because it’s the season ticket holders who monopolise the seats season after season.

Liverpool, Man Utd, Arsenal etc season ticket holders need to understand demand does indeed exceed supply. These teams are the minority. Most other clubs have oversupply and will therefore have to price their tickets accordingly.

One mailer mentioned seats at City being empty. Is this because they are too expensive? Maybe. Would reducing the ticket price increase demand? Possibly. Or is it because demand for City seats is less than capacity. I’m sure there’s someone at City would knows the answer to this. Some clubs, no matter what they do, will never fill a stadium because demand will never exceed supply.

But who watch Liverpool play Hartlepool on a cold Tuesday night in a Capital Cup replay if not the season ticket holders? The Club can price its tickets accordingly. Again, supply and demand. If demand is low then the law of price elasticity usually dictates a reduction in price would stimulate demand.

Again, I refer to John Nic: “…you deprive vast swathes of that community of the chance of seeing their local football club”. Liverpool, United, Arsenal are a local, community Clubs. They a global brands. If you want to socialise ticketing, then call for an end to season tickets. Make ticketing a lottery/ballot. This way EVERYONE would have the same chance to see their team, whether they live down the road or on the other side of the world.

If you like, I’ll write in tomorrow about globalisation and the good TV money has done…
Stephen, LFC

 

Silly Memphis
Sean, CFC;

Criticising Memphis for that pass to Schneiderlin on Sunday isn’t conflating an individual error with a collective failure to kill off a game. Rather, it’s criticising a player for spectacularly poor judgement. All United needed to do at that stage in the match was keep the ball in the opponent’s half and kill the game by recycling possession sideways with no real purpose. It’s the one time this season when van Gaal’s particularl brand of somnolent football was actually necessary.

Criticising Memphis does not excuse other individual errors, but he put the rest of the team in an unnecessarily dangerous position with a bad decision poorly executed.

To take a case in point: rugby world cup last autumn. England should have had the match against Wales buried long before Chris Robshaw chose to kick for touch, take a short line-out, and then be driven out of play, rather than take an easy three points. Is Chris Robshaw responsible for a succession of individual errors over the second half which allowed Wales to come back into a game they should have lost? No, but when asked to make a key decision in a key moment, he f**ked up.

There is no such thing as collective performance in sport, there is an accumulation of individual performances and decisions, some of which are more important than others. And in this particular instance, Memphis royally ballsed up. Not to say he won’t come good, or that criticism of him should distract from real issues at Old Trafford (principally, the owners, Woodward and van Gaal), but Memphis’ decision making in a key moment was awful.
Chris MUFC

 

UEFA are still a shambles
As you’ll know, Northern Ireland are due to attend their first major tournament in over 30 years this summer. Our wee country is buzzing with anticipation. That was until UEFA announced ticket allocations this morning and unsurprisingly there’s been a right, royal balls up that only UEFA could manage.

Over the past three months the IFA have worked with supporters to build up a database of fans so that a loyalty scheme could be put in place to ensure that those who regularly support the team have the best possible chance of obtaining tickets. Points were allocated based on attendance of the past two qualification campaigns and friendlies. The IFA then submitted this information to UEFA on the 29th January.

Today it would seem that UEFA took this information and promptly put it in the shredder along with Plantini’s extra curricular contracts. At this early stage it appears that tickets for our first game in Nice versus Poland have been allocated on a lottery basis. Just stick the names in a hat and away you go lads. Fans with upwards of 24 loyalty points out a possible 28 have been overlooked for fans who have admitted to not being at a match for over 10 years. Band wagon fans with zero loyalty points ousting people who have watched Norn Iron through thin and thinner, home and away. The fault is not theirs. They took a chance and good luck to them. But for UEFA to allow this to happen is shameful but sadly not unexpected. When will fans have the administrators that they deserve?

Ou est my ticket Sammy??
Paul

 

Football upsets
I would like to add the German team 1.FC Kaiserslautern to the list of surprise winners.

They were relegated in 1996 from the first tier. In 1997 they won the 2. Bundesliga and in 1998 they were crowned champions of Germany winning the 1. Bundesliga with a game to spare.

That was a fairy tale of sorts.
Gordon, Germany

 

I’m going to resist becoming involved in the subjective debate over the biggest shocks in football and sporting history, however, I’m surprised that nobody has yet drawn parallels between this year’s Leicester side and the 1984/85 Hellas Verona scudetto winners.

No side outside Rome, Milan and Turin had won Serie A for 15 years with Juventus winning 4 of the previous 5 titles. The league at the time boasted the likes of Diego Maradona (Napoli), Michel Platini (Juventus), Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (Inter), Franco Baresi (Milan), Paolo Rossi (Juventus), and had consecutive European Cup finalists in the three years from 1981/82. In short, it was an incredibly strong league. Enter Verona…

Verona had only been a Serie A side for two years and while they impressed with top half finishes in 82/83 and 83/84, there was no precedent for a team of their size to realistically challenge for the top spot. Similar to Leicester they took an early advantage and despite mounting pressure and some wobbles towards the end, they went on to win title with a game to spare, finishing 4 points clear in an era of 2 points for a win.

Impressively they conceded just 19 goals in 30 games (although unbelievably 8 of the 16 sides conceded less than a goal a game), and were second top scorers with 42 goals. They only used 17 different players over the course of the season with the big stars of the show being Hans-Peter Briegel and Preben Elkjær. The inevitable disbanding of the squad followed, they finished 10th the following season, were dumped out of the European Cup by Juventus, and in 89/90 were relegated to Serie B.

I find it hard to believe that Leicester can actually do it but sports history shows us again and again that it happens, there are examples everywhere. The sad thing is that within a couple of years the achievements are forgotten by all but the fans it personally affected. Look at how Greece’s achievement has been forgotten, rewritten as an undesirable anomaly based on a combination of their negative approach, a lack of quality teams at the time, and blind luck. The majority of us go back to the cynical world view that the status quo can’t be shifted, perhaps because we find some comfort in it.

Anyway, to try and not end on that negative note, I’ll give a quick plug for Tim Parks’ A Season With Verona. Not based on the 84/85 season but a great book on the trials of supporting a non-fashionable football club.
David, Nottingham

 

Ipswich and stuff
Nice bit on Ipswich by Peter (Rafa for England) in Spain, but arguably the Ipswich side of 61/62 achieved more. They won the old First Division having been promoted to the top flight from the old Second division for the first time in 60/61. Another team did the same thing a few years later, but after trawling Wikipedia for half an hour I gave up looking after getting distracted on an entry about Rams (Steady, I thought the team was Derby, spotted their nickname and remembered a film of the same name was released recently. Its meant to be quite good). Anyone know?

Interestingly (or not more likely) 60/61 was the last time Spurs won the top flight, meaning we are more recent winners of the top flight than them, another reason I would like to see Leicester win the title. Peter is right about Paul Cooper too, he was pretty decent, when you see long shots of Sylvester Stalone making great saves in Escape To Victory, that’s actually Paul Cooper, not Sly. Sly was utter bobbins by all accounts. Can anyone tell me why they broke Kevin O’Callaghans arm in that film so Sly could go in goal? Kevin O’Callaghan played left wing. Seems a tad harsh to me.
Chris ITFC (Hope Jurgen is ok after his Kloppperation) Liverpool

 

Lord Lucas
Loved the list of clubs embodied by their longest serving players. I’d like to make a personal addendum to that list.

Liverpool

After the departure of Steven Gerrard, the Brazilian Lucas has become Liverpool’s longest serving player. A stalwart who has overseen a string of 6th, 7th & 8th place finishes. It’s perhaps fitting that he looked out of place in a title-challenging Liverpool side but one of the best performers in sides destined for the Europa League. If your longest serving player is one that is mired in mediocrity, maybe it’s folly to expect anything else while he’s still there.
Kris, LFC, Manchester

 

Score lines
Guy S – I hereby apply for a 5-1 defeat after being a goal up to be forever more described as ‘A Colchester’.
Jeremy (twice, this season alone) Aves.

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