There is nothing quite like going to a game at Anfield. The crowd, atmosphere, emotions, and the game itself are unparalleled. For so long, you watched from afar on television but when you finally entered those hallowed ground you breathe everything in and live every moment. This is a moment. You realize that even as you are experiencing it. The moment “You’ll Never Walk Alone” comes over the loudspeaker, you are immediately conflicted. If you are standing in the Kop, you feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. You want to sing but your eyes are welling up with emotion. Do you look around and try to absorb it all or raise your arms high, scarf in your hands, and try to blend in? Living in the States, the cost of going to Anfield makes it potentially a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
On the day of the match, you arrive early and soak it all in. You buy the match program and make the obligatory visit to the club shop. A pie and chips before the contest is a must and before you know it kickoff is underway. By the time things conclude, everything seems a blur, but the memories you have will last a lifetime. From photos to bags of treats, this is a pilgrimage you will never forget. And for those that can eat that cost to make the trip, they are right to do so and are equally right to enjoy it.
The Live Experience Cost
However, my concern is not with Liverpool on its own, but with the sports industry as a whole. Many years ago, it was the norm for a parent to bring their children to a soccer match or another sporting event on any given weekend. It was a day out usually for the combination of a father and whatever number of children they would be bringing to a particular game. He could do this relatively inexpensively and manage to do so every other week for 19 games where their club was at home. If successful, this number could rise to nearly 25 home opportunities a season.
Is this possible for a parent today whether it is to go to Anfield or to see the Patriots play in Foxboro? The least expensive ticket at Anfield costs 37 pounds making it 111 pounds for an adult and two children to attend. Add in a program (roughly 5 pounds) and a minimal food offering (10 pounds per) and we’re already at 146 pounds. By the time you add in transport or parking, we’re near 175-180 pounds. That is a conservative estimate by the way. Translate that over to American dollars and in our scenario that is $220 every other week. One is looking at a cost of $5000 a season if they want to be there for every home game. In a city where the average salary is just under $41,000, it is easy to see how the family is being priced out of the game.
The Price of Fandom
Those that go to the games every week make enormous sacrifices. It is becoming harder and harder for the die-hard fan to attend with any regularity. I brought up the Patriots before. Their least expensive ticket this past season was $94. Parking STARTS at $25 if you’re lucky. Food and drink will nearly touch the ticket figures if you are in a party. If you bring children it could get even higher.
The professional sports industry should now be seen as part of the entertainment industry. It is big business. The necessity of bringing fans to entertain is a must. Going to one game must rival the experience of going to a big concert. But in the case of being a Liverpool supporter, that could mean 25 big concerts a year!
The sad reality is Liverpool isn’t even close to being one of the most expensive tickets in England. Yet the even sadder one is that the days of bringing your kids to make memories at Anfield on a regular basis are all but gone.