On Wednesday last week (19th June) a ticket price protest was held at the Premier League HQ in London. The protest was organised by Liverpool Supporters Union (SoS) but involved fans from clubs across the country. In fact one of our members - Kenny, a real character and livelong United fan - actually travelled down on the Liverpool coach decked out in his retro United shirt. That must have taken some bottle but he was well received. Everyone understands that for us to succeed this has to be separate from inter-club rivalries.
MUST was represented at the demonstration and MUST chief executive Duncan Drasdo was invited, as one of a fans' delegation including a Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs fan plus the FSF chief executive Kevin Miles, to meet with Richard Scudamore and other PL officials.
Our primary objective was to impress the importance of the away fan to the English game and indeed to the value of PL TV rights. On that basis we need to nurture our away fan culture and look after this hardcore of supporters who contribute disproportionately to the atmosphere in our grounds. Scudamore was clearly in agreement on this but the challenge is getting the clubs to re-invest any of their own revenues to reduce away ticket prices. The cost is peanuts compared to the massive media rights revenues flowing into the clubs over the next few years but thus far they seem unwilling to compromise even though it is clearly in the clubs' long term interest too.
Drasdo put forward a number of thoughts on possible solutions to explore further - essentially trying to find ways to secure a (tiny) pot of funds from the media rights revenues to use to reward those clubs who demonstrated best practice with regard to treatment of away fans (esp. pricing, location, allocation) so that it actually becomes in the clubs' financial interest to do the right thing. Another suggestion was to explore the opportunity for a new sponsor to become the away fans' champion - with funds ringfenced to reward only those clubs who meet best practice criteria on pricing, location, allocation and distribution of tickets.
We anticipate that these ideas and others will be explored further in future discussions with PL officials and fans now need to lobby their own clubs on these issues too.
Football fans across the country are putting aside rivalry (save that for matchday) to work together on these campaigns. This unity of purpose has certainly got the authorities to sit up and take notice and is undoubtedly the way forward.
1999 European Cup Final Teddy Sheringham signed shirts and storyboard
MUST fundraiser here: http://bit.ly/14wYo1i