Fans head to London in prices protest

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Fans' protest banners in London. Picture by Joel Richards

Fans’ protest banners in London. Picture by Joel Richards

Football supporters from Merseyside joined forces with rival clubs in London this week to protest against expensive ticket prices.

Organised by Liverpool supporters’ group Spirit of Shankly, hundreds of fans from clubs such as Everton, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Manchester United came together in Regent’s Park before marching to the Premier and Football League’s headquarters in Gloucester Place.

Armed with banners displaying messages such as ‘£nough is £nough’ and ‘If you tolerate this, then your children will be next’ club rivalries were put aside on Wednesday when the fixtures for next season were released.

As they headed towards Gloucester Place, fans chanted “We’ve got the worst league in the world” and “We hate Sky Sports” as a reference to their live showing of football matches regularly causing havoc with the fixture list by changing kick-off times from the traditional 3pm slot on Saturday afternoon.

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore met with representatives from Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool supporters’ groups as well as the Football Supporters’ Federation chief executive, Kevin Miles.

Organisers hope the demonstration will make authorities address their concerns. Miles said: “The turnout and the position articulated by the delegates who went into the meeting successfully brought home the strength of feeling among fans.

“From the Premier League we encountered some sympathy, a restatement of their commitment to price-stretching and an acknowledgement that local support is important. But this is the start of a process, not the end. The opinions of the clubs will be crucial.”

Protest banners in London. Picture by Joel Richards

Protest banners in London. Picture by Joel Richards

The issue of tickets prices in the Premier League was highlighted in January when Manchester City returned 900 tickets priced at £62 for their game at Arsenal. Since then Liverpool fans have regularly displayed banners at away matches including: ‘Football without fans is nothing.’

Organisers said the level of co-operation on show represented a turning point, with anger exacerbated by the new £5.5bn TV deal.

Stephen Martin of Spirit of Shankly said: “With the TV deal, no football club should have increased ticket prices. They’ve been able to get away with it because there was no challenge. The challenge starts now.

“We’re all here for the common cause. When we play them, the rivalry will always be there. But we can all see the bigger picture. There must be 40 different club tops here.”

About Joel Richards, JMU Journalism