Liverpool Fans Are Once Again Angry at John Henry and Tom Werner

Fenway Sports Group dramatically changed the ticket pricing structure at Anfield.

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Photo by AndyNugent via Flickr

After last year’s disastrous Red Sox season, John Henry, Tom Werner, and the Red Sox ownership group were wise enough not to raise ticket prices. They’re even knocking a few bucks off beers and dogs this month. That—along with the emergence of our newest lord and savior, Jackie Bradley, Jr.—seems to have bought the beleaguered owners a bit of good will.

Over in Liverpool, though, it’s a different story right now. Fenway Sports Group, as Henry and Werner’s partnership is called, has decided to dramatically change the pricing structure of tickets for their soccer team, Liverpool FC. The locals are not happy about it, especially considering how their club has struggled on the field ever since FSG came on board in 2010.

Liverpool’s stadium, Anfield, dates back to 1892 and often draws comparisons to Fenway Park. As I discovered when I went there a few years ago, it is an amazing, historic place to watch a game. But it is also a bit crummy—the concourses are tight and the facilities are old. One very big difference between the two stadiums is that, for years, there has basically been one ticket price for all of Anfield. It didn’t matter if you were sitting front and center at midfield or way up high, with a few exceptions, you were paying the same price. It’s strange to us, but it’s the way it was done there. In English soccer there’s generally much less price variation between seats than in American sports, as you’ll see looking at this chart (which, amazingly, also lists the prices of stadium pie and tea). Whereas Anfield ticket prices only ranged between £39 and £45 per seat in 2012, at Fenway, you’ll pay anywhere from $20-$325.

Henry and Werner are effectively trying to make Anfield more like Fenway, if only incrementally. They’ve created six pricing zones for the stadium, with prices going up about 10 percent for the best tickets and actually dropping by £15 for the (relatively) cheap-seats. Here’s the entire scheme. Even with the changes, season tickets only vary between £710 and £830.

Still, it seems to be a shock to the system over there, as the Liverpool Supporters Union, a fan group, fired back at ownership with an angry missive. “In the midst of austerity, with redundancies and cut-backs a daily reality for many supporters, these inflation-busting price rises are an insult to long-standing supporters who have already suffered a massive 716% price rise since 1989,” the group wrote. They’re especially angered by the fact that the price increases are coming before long awaited renovations to Anfield. Unlike Fenway, the old stadium has not been quite so rehabilitated since Henry and Co. took over. “Supporters in the Main Stand and Paddock endure facilities that survived the Shankly era redevelopment, with so-called ‘concourses’ dating back to 1907, while the cramped seating in the Lower Centenary has been notorious since that structure was built as the Kemlyn Road stand in 1963,” the missive continued. But here’s my favorite part:

Paddock seats now designated as the second-best in the stadium are effectively restricted view, with supporters being unable to see down the near touchline without leaving their seats. It is our guess that not one of Liverpool’s multiple “owners” has ever watched a match from any of these seats and that none of them have ever availed themselves of the so-called “facilities” in the Paddock or Main Stand or emerged from a game with a case of “Kemlyn Road Kneecap”! If we are wrong, then more shame on them for believing £815 to £850 is fair price to pay for “the product” on offer.

Burn! It looks like Henry and Werner will have their hands full trying to win back goodwill in Liverpool. Does anyone know if Jackie Bradley, Jr. can play soccer?

  • Nick Collins

    I think you’ll find its called football, not soccer.

    • Don Clark

      Unfortunately in every league association football has created in the United States they have typed themselves as soccer. Probably because America has another sport called football.

  • Leonard jones

    It’s a disgrace, lower the prices and up the facilities or expect a backlash

  • Craig

    Football is NOT baseball and this is in the U.K,NOT,the U.S.A.Fenway have no idea about football and this country,they should just sell up to someone who knows what Liverpool means.Not just some money making scheme for their business CV.Go home,we don’t want you

    • Don Clark

      Unfortunately all of the EPL are implementing more pricing tiers, not just LFC. When the nose bleed seats are added to Anfield you will understand why they are called nose bleed seats. Surely you don’t expect the rich to pay premium prices for nose bleed seats.

  • Jamie

    Having been to Anfield a few times I can confirm that the fans group has every right to be angry. The Main Stand is really very antiquated. One thing I would point out to US sports fans is that often at football, being ‘front and center’ isn’t always the best place to be. An elevated view of 10 or more rows offers the fan a better perspective on the whole field of play than being up front. This goes a long way to explain the anger in premium pricing for seats from which you struggle to see down the near sideline.

    • Don Clark

      The same can be said of being in the front row seat at the opera or a musical/play. But front row seats costs dearly at either.

  • Jamie

    I should point out I don’t share the views that this is a US/UK thing. Good and bad owners can come from anywhere and FSG have shown signs of learning from their early mistakes on the player recruitment side of things. Hopefully they will quickly review this pricing structure too.

  • Charlie Miller

    Nick collins, could you be more childish? You could say its a disgrace but then again as Liverpool fans we expect the team on the pitch to be world class, this costs million’s of pounds. Liverpool are not owned by middle eastern sugar daddies we are owned by business men who want results on the pitch because financially its brilliant but if these results don’t start coming in and a loss is being made other streams of income have to be improved. The facilities have to be improved, and are going to be improved and you could say they could have waited until the completion of the redevelopment but if we want to be able to keep investing in the best players and be able to offer large wages as incentives something has to give, its just unfortunate that it will always be the fans who get hit first.

  • ChriS SmiTH

    Its SIX years since G & H first infected
    OUR CLUB, if any F S G clones think our “status” is improving look where
    we were then..TOP of the UEFA rankings , @ our 2nd CL final in 3 years,
    (Athens 07) now, we are not (yet) in a european qualification
    position, in a League which boast NONE of the current Champions league
    quarter-finalists, and a manc team already “crowned” . who are 31 points
    ahead of us..and probably the worst utd side I have seen in the last
    decade.. (CS) … yeah, thanks yanks! for “saving us”

    • Don Clark

      How soon the fans forget about being within 24 hours of going into administration and possible relegation.