Following today's announcement regarding the new pricing and ticket structure for 2016-17, chief executive officer Ian Ayre spoke to Liverpoolfc.com to offer more detail on the changes. Watch what he had to say by clicking play on our free video above, or read on for a full transcript.
Firstly, Ian, can you tell us the highlights of today’s ticketing announcement?
At the top of the announcement is a 64 per cent freeze or decrease in prices for our season ticket holders, then in addition 45 per cent of our matchday tickets will decrease. Then, in addition to that, we’ve worked on a number of initiatives around local fans and young fans, so local fans will be given priority access to around 20,000 tickets from next season, we’ll have our first £9 full-price ticket for category C games, which we believe will be one of the cheapest full-price tickets in the Premier League, and our new young adult pricing will allow 17 to 21-year-olds a concession price. In addition to that, a great initiative that will provide some free tickets to young fans, providing around 1,000 tickets to schools which will be a reward for attendance and performance at school. We think that combination of initiatives helps to address the issues that were identified around young people, local people and affordable pricing.
What’s the process you’ve gone through on ticketing?
We set up a ticketing working group at the start of this process and that group was made up of our own Supporters’ Committee representatives, and representatives from some of our other fan groups – Spirit of Shankly and the Spion Kop. As part of that dialogue, we identified a number of key initiatives and they were predominantly around more access to local people, more access to younger people and more affordable pricing in general. We think today’s announcements address those issues in the areas we particularly identified, so as I said, a 64 per cent decrease or flattening of season ticket prices, 45 per cent of matchday tickets coming down in price and then in addition the initiatives around schools, young people and young adults. We think they all feed into those core initiatives, we have the opportunity to see those in practice and I think the dialogue has been really helpful, and for our owners it’s been really important to be a part of that. We feel the process has been rewarding and hopefully is reflected in our announcement today.
Some fans might argue that Liverpool are making more money than ever with the new TV deal, increased commercial revenues and revenue coming in from the Main Stand, and that maybe more should be done to reduce general admission prices…
I think people forever and a day have always thought everything should be cheaper. When you run a business like Liverpool Football Club as I do every day, one of the things that is very evident is that it’s not really just about one year and the revenue in one year. By example, we’ll have good years, we’ll have years where we make a huge loss, we’ll have years where we make a profit. Some of that is driven by the performance of the business on the pitch, some of it is driven by the sale and purchase of players, but what we have is a duty to maintain an even level of pricing and giving back to our fans. At the same time, we have a responsibility to run the business in the right way. As I said before, the owners have been deeply involved in this process – they care about how we treat our fans and what we deliver for our fans, and that falls into every category for the club. The building of the new Main Stand is a huge investment by Fenway Sports Group and we have to pay that back, but I think the reflection of the prices shows that we’re moving as many tickets as we can in the right direction downwards, but then at the same time providing something for everyone. I think when we had our discussions with the ticketing working group around affordability, we fairly established that what affordability means for one person is different to another. That’s why in recent years we’ve moved to a stretched pricing model where there is something for everyone – something at the top end for those people that can afford it and now there’s really something at the bottom end, and at £9 for a full-price ticket for a category C game I think that’s affordable to most – if not all – people.
How has the Main Stand impacted the ticketing structure?
It’ll have a big impact on attendance next year, it’ll add 8,500 new seats to Anfield, which I think everybody would agree is long overdue, but it has now also given us the opportunity to go in the direction we’ve gone for next year in the sense that it gives us the opportunity to have such a bigger range of prices. It gives us an opportunity to move people from one price range to another, which we’ve never had that luxury before. I think the quality of the facilities, the quality of the experience, will all be enhanced by the Main Stand. It was something the owners identified literally on day one of their arrival at Liverpool. Like me, they’ll be hugely excited about delivering that for next season and it’ll give our fans something to be proud of. It’s had an impact on our ability to do this; it’s helped us to deliver more revenue and it’ll help us to deliver the right pricing in the right places.
So what happens next?
Information on ticket prices is available on our website at Liverpoolfc.com and then from the week commencing February 8, season ticket holders will start to be contacted with full details and I think that’s going to be an exciting process for them. I’d just say that these announcements, these initiatives and the things we’ve put together have been part of a process. There are other initiatives that we’re still considering. We have, by example, around about 1,000 season ticket holders per game who don’t turn up and we’re trying to look at initiatives that might make those seats available to young people in the local area. There’s lots more to come, we’ll keep working on it and hopefully it’s an exciting season next season to look forward to.