Following the recent Spirit of Shankly AGM, it was recognised that ticketing policy has become a major issue for members and supporters generally. The issues are wide ranging, and establishing Union policy on these requires consultation with members, to add to feedback that has already been received. Spirit of Shankly is proposing a ticketing campaign which will focus on a number of aims and objectives and members are asked to review what the Management Committee believes to be the current feeling of the membership and to allow these issues to be put to the Club as Union policy.
Season Tickets – the cost of tickets has outstripped inflation over the last 18 years. Since 1993 the Retail Price Index has increased by approximately 65% while average ticket costs have risen by 450%. It is recognised that the increase above inflation delivers profits for the Club and that these profits, if invested properly, allow the Club to compete at the highest domestic and European levels. However, the prices for season tickets have exceeded what could be considered reasonable and as such Union policy for the season 2011/12 is that there should be NO increase to prices at all. In future the Club should implement ‘no increase’ as the starting point for the consideration of their pricing strategy, or, dependent upon inflation and tax rises, only consider the imposition of an inflation or VAT imposed rise. The Club should endorse the proposed Union scheme (about to be launched) for low interest (non-credit card) loans for season ticket holders or create its own to allow season ticket holders to purchase their tickets more easily and flexibly over the year.
General Sale Tickets – the same principle applies to Premier League and FA Cup matches where prices should be held for the coming season and only increased if inflation or VAT rises.
Away Tickets – while the Union recognises that the pricing of away tickets is a matter for the home Club, it has been apparent for years that other Clubs cash in on the commitment of LFC supporters and the Club’s ‘Big Game’ status. Ticket prices for games against Liverpool are consistently among the highest, if not the highest, for Premier League Clubs. The Union respects those dedicated supporters who pay these prices week after week but we believe that the spiral of increases has to end. Currently, prices for our away support are fixed at the same price charged to home fans in a similar part of the ground. We would request that this policy is re-visited, in consultation with those supporters it affects, and that home Clubs should look to reward the loyalty of away supporters by charging them the same price as the lowest priced tickets for home supporters. We consider Liverpool FC should adopt the same approach for visiting supporters to Anfield.
Categorisation – The Union notes that most Clubs currently adopt a categorisation policy, rating each match depending on the opposition. We believe that this policy should be reviewed to ensure a fairer approach. At LFC, ticket prices can range from £39 – £45 depending on the opposition. This process is repeated for our away supporters who are often charged the highest price ticket, which is unfair when other away supporters are charged less. We believe this approach means Clubs charge away supporters the same as that charged by the home Club because of the ‘status’ of a Club, something which supporters cannot control and subsequently end up paying through the nose for.
European and Carling Cup Tickets – the Club has recognised that some of these matches may not sell out and we welcome the Club’s approach for the Utrecht match (following Union encouragement) and we would very much like to see more innovation in pricing less glamorous ties.
Travel Partner – the Union recognises that the sale of a portion of tickets to the Club’s travel partners (currently Thomas Cook) produces a profit for the Club. However these tickets are made available for supporters who may not have season tickets or cannot get general sale tickets and may also be sold to supporters from outside the Merseyside area who may make infrequent visits to matches. The Club takes a stand against “touting” but how can the following be considered anything other than institutionalised touting: Thomas Cook has quoted a “package” price of £383 for the Spurs match at the end of the current season. That £383 price includes a stay in the Holiday Inn Express at John Lennon Airport. Below is a breakdown of the “true” cost:
Match Ticket £46
Online Booking Fee £2.50
Hotel direct through Holiday Inn Express £47.17
Total – £98.67
Even taking into account an All Red Membership the “true” cost would be £250 less than that charged by Thomas Cook. Supporters buying these packages need to be respected as much as anyone else. As a result a number of issues need to be considered:
- there should be more transparency, with the Club publishing how many tickets are released to the travel partners per match;
- the prices charged by the travel partner should be agreed with the Club – the example above shows the exploitation that is taking place;
- any future negotiation for a new contract should recognise and cap the price that can be charged by a travel partner – it is recognised that a profit can be made but exploiting supporters’ commitment at the current levels is unacceptable
Thomas Cook should also take steps to be more consistent with their arranged trips to European away matches. A number of trips have been cancelled this season at short notice due to insufficient numbers booking. Leaving aside cost being the reason for the unpopularity of the trips, the cancellations have left supporters with only a short time to make alternative arrangements, which due have increased the costs they have had to pay even further. The Union has taken up the specific issue of the cancellations to Braga and although a detailed response was received the Club’s attitude is to indicate that Thomas Cook set the terms and costs and if they prices being charged make the trips unattractive and therefore unsubscribed then that is unfortunate for those booking. Another issue that has arisen is the Club’s failure to allow the return of match tickets by those let down by Thomas Cook who could not make the trip to Braga due to the late cancellation of the trip. This is something that is clearly in the Club’s power to manage.
Ticket Pricing Policy – the Union noted the ticketing policy adopted by the Club’s owners when they acquired the Boston Red Sox. Ticket pricing is “differentiated”, with higher prices within the same stands for premium views and seats.
Given this policy, the Club’s Board may be considering something similar for ticket pricing policy at LFC next season. This is effectively what happens now for European matches when season ticket holders in the Centenary Stand are not able to secure their own seats in the central part of the stand as these are taken by UEFA and handed to their corporate partners.
The Union feels that proper consultation should take place with supporters prior to any change in policy being established as ticket price rises within stands may see long standing supporters, including thousands of Union members, who have had the same seat for many years priced out of what they consider to be “their” seat. ”
Child Tickets – generations of young supporters (especially young, local supporters) have been lost as ticket prices have increased.
The Union considers that a return to the old “Boys Pen” approach (but not limited to young male fans) should be considered with tickets made available by way of window sale for young, local people.
Ticket Office – the Ticket Office performance in recent years (and that of the Club’s ticketing agency partners) has seen supporters as a necessary inconvenience. We are requesting that this attitude ends and that the Club’s approach moves to one where the supporters receive more respect and an improved service. The Ticket Office operates on the basis of creating an extra administrative income for the Club when it should operate to make the purchase of tickets a simple and cheap process for supporters.
We ask that the following be considered:
- the end to premium rate numbers for calls to the ticket office;
- publication of a commitment to answer calls within a specific, reasonable time;
- supplying sufficient resource to make the answering of calls and processing of purchases more efficient and in line with published targets;
- publication of the performance against published targets for call handling and ticket processing;
- publication of the actual processing costs for credit and debit cards – passing on only the costs actually incurred – charging a transaction fee per ticket when more than one ticket is purchased at a time is profiteering and not a reflection of actual cost;
- reinstatement of window sales for matches to allow local supporters a better chance to secure tickets;
- much more aggressive and visible anti-touting action taken in conjunction with the Police;
Season Ticket Waiting List – this issue has been under discussion by the Union with the Club for over two years. Until recently no visible progress has been made to establish a definitive list and an individual’s place on it. By the Club’s own admission the record keeping and administration of this list has been a shambles over the years, but we consider it time for the Club to remedy the problem and to publish a detailed list allowing those on it to know where they appear and to address the complaints that are likely to follow due to the errors the Club has previously made. This should be done at the Club’s cost, not the supporters’. The list should be complied and individuals informed as soon as possible.
The Union considers that many of the issues we intend to campaign on could be improved if the Club’s consultation with supporters increased. The Union continues to offer itself for consultation and believes that there is a way of striking a balance that sees a fair and reasonable ticketing policy and the continued generation of competitive revenues for the Club to reinvest. Please feedback your views on how you consider the Union should be dealing with ticketing issues to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The results of the consultation will be published to establish Union policy in due course.
Please remember that this document represents a consultation and any final decisions will depend upon members’ views.