Liverpool fans, spirit of Shankly; Liverpool FC, spirit of Rachman

John McCormick:
John McCormick
putting in his sixpenneth, which LFC will willingly snatch from his hand.

I have to start by saying I think Liverpool’s a great place to live. I’ve no intention of leaving and wouldn’t swap it for a return to the North East, not for a minute. Other people appear to like it too, it’s increasingly a tourist destination, with the river, nightlife, national museums, the Beatles and the Grand National all playing a part in attracting visitors.

As does football. Many of those tourists will make a detour to Anfield, fewer to Goodison. They don’t all go on match days but a significant number do; enough when Liverpool is at home, especially on European nights, to make a difference in the atmosphere of the city centre.

So it’s no surprise to me that Liverpool FC milks its popularity. Any club would do the same. But I wonder what those tourists think when they get there because Anfield stadium and the area around it “is a dump”.

Those aren’t my words, they come from a stalwart Liverpool supporter, born and brought up in the city. I have to agree with him, however. There are many areas of deprivation in Liverpool, a lot of them in the north, especially where the city wards butt up against Bootle, which has problems of its own.

One of those abutting wards is County, home to Goodison Park, and next to County is Anfield. Look these wards up in the City Council’s profiles and you’ll find some alarming figures. Two thirds (65.2%) of County ward falls into the most deprived five per cent of the nation’s neighbourhoods, 85 per cent of the ward is in the most deprived 10 per cent. Anfield fares a little better but, even so, “almost a third of Anfield ward is in the most deprived one per cent of neighbourhoods nationally”.

The new stand at Anfield. Corporate "fans" will be able to eat their prawns while looking over some of the most deprived neighborhoods in the country
The new stand at Anfield. Where corporate ‘fans’ will look over some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the country

Taking the two wards together, almost 20,000 residents around the city’s football stadiums are living in some of the most deprived areas in England, and that’s before we think about nearby Kirkdale, where many fans will have stopped for a pint, unaware that it is doing even worse.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, to learn that Liverpool and its hinterland isn’t particularly high earning. Once again, we look to Liverpool City Council, this time for their latest economic briefing.

This tells us that while Liverpool, as a city, is holding its own with comparable cities the region has a median gross income below the North West’s average, and below the country’s as a whole.

Furthermore, there is a gap between what workers in Liverpool earn and what residents in Liverpool earn. In other words, a lot of people who earn high wages in Liverpool live elsewhere, as appears to be the case with LFC’s footballers. In fact, when it comes to Gross Disposable Household Income per Head, Liverpool, at just under £14,000 (2013 figures) is doing poorly compared to places like Cardiff, Leeds and Tyneside, never mind nationally, where we have below 80 per cent of the average figure.

This might help to put a £77 match ticket into some context and explain Spirit of Shankly’s ire. Over a season it’s a massive amount for the average Liverpudlian to find, and for anyone on low wages and with a couple of kids it verges on the impossible.

There is a difference of opinions, of course, and the club puts a different spin on it, as do some supporters. One season ticket holder recently told me most ticket prices weren’t rising but the club had cocked it up in the way they had presented things, and maybe they have. I don’t really care, as it happens, as I’m an away supporter and I have my own opinion. For what it’s worth, I think LFC’s attitude stinks.

Stuck in the corner at Anfield
Stuck in the corner at Anfield

Away fans pay £47 to be stuck in what must be the worst part of the ground. The view’s poor, even from the seats which don’t have an obstructed view, and the concourse is jam-packed at half time. If anyone had had a heart attack on the way to the toilet last Saturday they would have died. No ifs, no buts, it would have been impossible to reach them and perform CPR before brain damage set in. Some of our own fans, I have to say, didn’t help, but that’s beside the point. LFC’s ticket price, for the facilities it provides, is a disgrace.

In the 1960s, around the time I got into football, a new word entered the English language. A property dealer had been buying up slum dwellings, making life so impossible for the existing tenants that they moved out, and then replacing them with new, often impoverished but desperate, tenants at a much higher rent. His name was Peter Rachman, and his activities made him filthy rich. Not that this stopped his behaviour. He continued because he was greedy and because he could.

The word “Rachmanism” was coined in his dishonour.

Now, what LFC is doing isn’t “Rachmanism”. I voluntarily paid to go into Anfield, as did all of the other away supporters, all of Liverpool’s true fans and all of the tourists who managed to get tickets that day. LFC don’t intimidate, LFC don’t act illegally. They’ll even argue, with some truth, that the redevelopment of Anfield will be good for the area.

But just as Rachman didn’t care about his existing tenants, LFC don’t care about the fans. Like Rachman, they don’t need to rip people off. They are the ninth richest club (more accurately, the ninth biggest revenue generator) in the world, with revenues of 392 million euros last season, and they’re about to get richer. They are ripping people off because they are greedy and because they can. As the Spirit of Shankly website puts it:

“the decisions of the ownership are based purely on economics with no compromise”

In Liverpool Football Club, as in many Premier League clubs, the spirit of Rachman lives on.

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12 thoughts on “Liverpool fans, spirit of Shankly; Liverpool FC, spirit of Rachman”

  1. Can’t cope with maths, never have done. Don’t want to be a jumpers for goalposts guy , but how does a 5billion tv deal relate to a shilling getting into the ground, the tanner a bag peanuts bloke-what would he be doing now, floating a drone in to swipe me contactless card provided I’ve got a good credit profile?

  2. Most clubs won’t act independently so the only way to stop these obscene ticket prices is for the Premier League to step in and impose limits. There is no excuse for the high cost of tickets, what comes through the gates now is a small proportion of the income generated by PL clubs. It is greed and greed alone that motivates the clubs, they know they have a loyal fanbase that will pay whatever is asked of them.
    Take Sunderland AFC, compared to most PL clubs the prices aren’t bad but they are still way too high. The club could reduce all tickets in the ground by an average of ten pounds per match, assuming a full house of about 48,000 every week that would cost over a nineteen match season less than ten million pounds. In other words less than the price of one Jack Rodwell. Wouldn’t we all sacrifice the signing of one average(I’m being kind here), overpaid, pampered player to give a fairer deal to each and every supporter?
    A ten pound reduction at our place would be fair enough, but some of the Arsenals of this world should be forced to reduce ticket prices even more. Forty seven quid to watch a match at Anfield is a disgrace, and it shames the club that has the nerve to charge that. Twenty pounds maximum around the country is very do-able, OK maybe a little more for London clubs, and if the clubs can’t manage on that, how about trying to stop paying players such ridiculously stupid wages.

    • Could not agree more Jake. IMO the maximum price of a ticket should be about the same as a visit to the cinema [ which is often much more entertaining ]
      However, my main point of agreement is the ludicrous wages players now enjoy. If wages right across the board were reduced to sensible levels, there is an argument that fans could attend for nowt.
      Without any doubt this latest increase in TV money will end up in the over-filled pockets of players and agents. It will not help to reduce entrance charges, or even be filtered down to lower league clubs, who would make much better use of it than multi-millionaire players [ often of modest ability, bordering on useless ]
      Looking back over my 70 odd years of watching football, the most enjoyment I got [ apart from playing myself ] was watching a team comprising of staff from the hospital where I was employed every Saturday. They played with total commitment, with no histrionics, and paid their own expenses.

    • To keep the Maths easy assume £10x40000x20

      This equates to £8 million off the bottom line….not turnover

      With the new deal the club could swallow £millions but it’s not a small cut in profits. Clubs who are Plcs would have to justify this to shareholders. For all of his flaws Short has bankrolled Safc. We need to get the money side sorted once and for all …..once we’re one sure ground we can look at things like price reductions.

      • Or, 2000 away supporters at Liverpool paying £22 = £50,000 less per game, IF they fill the away end.

        That’s only £1 000 000 over 20 games, so near enough a million pounds per season.

        Or approx. 0.03% of their annual revenue.

        But then, they are still paying Balotelli so they no doubt feel they need it

      • When did Safc last post a profit? I appreciate I’m coming over all McCawber but we need to gt the finances sorted. If we go down all of this is moot

  3. I have mentioned elsewhere about the terrible sight lines for away fans at Anfield but even modern stadiums, with unobstructed views from every seat are are far from ideal. You only have to try and get to the loo at the Stadium of Light at half time to see how past governments and architects have contributed to problems for spectators.

    The ban on drinking alcohol in sight of the playing field means the concourses are invariably crowded, when there is any reasonable crowd. A ban that only applies to football of course. Cricket, rugby (league and union) basketball, ice hockey etc. are not subject to the same prohibitions.

    Who decided that putting TVs and betting points next to the entrances to the loos was a good idea?

    I know that modern grounds pose less of a fire risk these days but how quickly could people sitting in the upper reaches of the stands be evacuated in an emergency? It takes ages at the end of a game to get out – I’m sure it would be even worse if there was an element of panic.

    There’s a lot to be said for following a lower league team – and not just cost!

  4. Only 200 tickets are priced @ £77 where’s 500 are priced at under a tenner. Clearly the club has failed to communicate ths. What is their average season ticket? The away ticket seems poor value for money……so what likelihood of a boycott next season……zero. We just voted in a rip off government so don’t be surprised at being ripped off. Wenger has already argued that the new tv money will not reduce ticket prices rather it will go on players and agents. I sat in the rain watching us lose to Watford. With travel and other costs I spent £150 taking my brother and his 2 boys to the SoL…..a rip off?? …….only because we lost. That said the display of solidarity shown by LFC fans was admirable if quixotic.

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