Last week, I wrote about the sturm und drang surrounding Arsenal's plan to surcharge season ticket holders next year for a cost differential this year based on a ticket price reclassification. In that piece, I also made mention of Liverpool's fans being loudly angry about next year's ticket prices, and how fans were going to walk out of a game at the weekend in protest.
I thought this was dumb - after all, the club has your money, why should they listen to protests about taking more of your money at that point? Well, guess what? I was wrong. Completely, very, amazingly, wrong:
A number of major revisions have been made to the ticketing structure for 2016-17 and will remain in place for the 2017-18 season #LFC— Liverpool FC (@LFC) February 10, 2016
Which, sure, that just means an astounding rise in 2018/19, right? Well, maybe not:
Game categorisation will be removed - fans will pay the same price for matchday tickets regardless of the opposition #LFC— Liverpool FC (@LFC) February 10, 2016
And that's not the end of the changes, either:
Ticket prices will be readjusted to result in zero revenue growth from general admission ticketing on a like-for-like basis #LFC— Liverpool FC (@LFC) February 10, 2016
I mean, seriously - go read Liverpool's twitter feed. They made substantive changes to their ticketing policy and pricing, and it all seems to be because of the 77th minute protest at the weekend, when 10,000 people walked out of Anfield in protest of next year's most expensive non-suite ticket at Anfield costing £77.
I was very, very skeptical that such a protest would work - I am very on the record as believing sports teams don't really care about how their fans feel, for the most part, especially around ticket and concession costs - but I have to admit that I misread this situation, and I give Liverpool huge amounts of credit for not just walking back the ticket price rise, but restructuring their whole cost structure as a response to the displeasure of their fans.
What remains to be seen, though, is how this will impact the rest of the Premier League. I have a sneaking suspicion that one of two things will happen: either no other team will follow Liverpool's lead, or one other team will, which will result in all the rest following suit. If it were just a ticket price freeze, I'd be less curious as to the long term effect, but with Liverpool restructuring their entire pricing model, it's a broader change with a possibly more deeply felt effect.
Most teams now do employ a tiered pricing structure, where you pay more to see your team play, in Arsenal's case, the Manchesters, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, and Barcelona/Real/Bayern, than you do to see them play Sunderland and West Brom. This is just basic supply and demand, and it happens everywhere - more desirable things are more expensive.
But Liverpool have gone back in time 15 years, and have basically decided that seeing Hull is worth as much as seeing Barcelona - in effect, you're paying to see Liverpool, regardless of opponent. It will be very interesting to see what this does to overall ticket revenue, because I have a feeling if it's a huge negative effect other teams might be wary of following suit - even if it is a stupendously fan-friendly thing to do that garners a ton of good PR.
Arsenal, as we know, makes more game day revenue than any team in the world - £100 million a year - so I'm sure they'll be watching very, very closely to see what the overall effect is. If it's insignificant (I've seen some estimates that this might cost Liverpool £2 million a year) I would expect them to follow suit, but if it's a bigger hit than that? I'd be skeptical that Arsenal will do anything.
But mostly, I want to congratulate Liverpool for doing what I never thought in a million years they'd do - listening to their fans, and adjusting things accordingly. I was wrong to think they wouldn't, and I'm pretty happy to have been so wrong in this case.