Sunday Supplement: Clubs have responsibility over ticket costs
By Stephen Mills
Last Updated: 07/02/16 4:03pm
The cost of match tickets is now firmly on the agenda - but the power lies with the clubs and not the supporters.
That was the view of Daily Mail Football Editor Ian Ladyman, who was reflecting on Liverpool supporters' protests over ticket prices on the Sunday Supplement.
Thousands of Liverpool fans walked out of Anfield in the 77th minute of Saturday's game with Sunderland in protest at next season's prices - with some seats set to be sold for as much as £77.
Liverpool protests to continue
Walkout organisers say the protest was "just the start" of protests against ticket prices
And Ladyman applauded them for turning the issue into a nationwide talking point.
"The great thing about this is it is on the agenda because it hasn't been for a while," he said.
"It's been on the supporters' agendas but not nationally or on the media's agenda. It is now and I think it will stay on the agenda, which is important.
"Maybe next season something will come out of this."
However, Ladyman does not believe supporters have enough power to force through a change because clubs like Liverpool have long waiting lists of fans trying to buy season tickets.
He argued that the hierarchy of clubs needs to take a longer-term view on broadening access to football.
"There are two types of attitude that football clubs show towards this," he added.
"Some football clubs think 'we'll get the very most that we can or can get away with in terms of what we charge'.
"Then there's a view that, happily, a few of the clubs are beginning to realise and think about, especially in advance of a huge wave of TV money coming their way next season, which is 'you know what, maybe it's time we start to think about strategy, being fairer and trying to broaden access to games'.
Ayre defends prices
Liverpool chief executive explains some Anfield tickets will cost £9 next season
"The sad thing about protests like yesterday's, laudable though they are, is if you take them to the nth degree then supporters don't go - which at the end of the day is the only power that you have as a supporter; stop spending.
"If those supporters who left yesterday decide not to go back and stop spending then Liverpool know they will be replaced by other people who probably have a bit more money and therefore ticket prices will have less impact on.
"Those people who left Anfield will be replaced by people with more money and therefore the demographic of our game changes again.
"Ultimately the power, I'm afraid, and the responsibility remains with the football clubs."
Ladyman interviewed West Ham owner David Sullivan last month, who is offering some season tickets for £289 when the club move to the Olympic Stadium next season.
And he argued maximising ticket revenue is not significant to the club's overall income, .
"West Ham are trying to do what they can to make prices better for certain sections of their community," he said.
"David Sullivan said they could have priced the new Olympic Stadium higher and people would have paid it, but ultimately the difference that it makes from their point of view is about £5m over a season in terms of what they could have charged and what they are charging.
"He said that £5m does not make the difference - and these are his words not mine - between signing Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi.
"What enables them to make those transfers is the TV money. The income from tickets, when set against the rest of it, is not that significant. That was his spin on it anyway."