OpinionJohn Aldridge

Aldo: Fan power is a good thing for Premier League

John AldridgeBy John Aldridge
Aldo: Fan power is a good thing for Premier League

FOOTBALL fans confirmed their voice still matters this week.

My Sunday World column the weekend before last urged the top clubs in English football to appreciate that cutting out traditional supporters in favour of attracting corporate fans was a risky business policy. 

The race to make more and more money is fine if the heartbeat of the sport is not affected, but that has been an ongoing problem for far too long now.

So it was wonderful to see Liverpool’s owners backing down in their plans to increase ticket prices at Anfield, after the club’s fans made their feelings clear in graphic fashion last weekend.

In a way, the symbolism of Liverpool conceding two goals against Sunderland after the fans walked out of the ground in the 77th minute gave the protest even more punch.

It highlighted how supporters are needed to back a team and help them to get over the winning line.

A soulless and half-empty Anfield was a breeding ground for a Sunderland revival and, in the end, they snatched a point to deepen the gloom around the stadium.

However, the bigger picture is so much more important than the two points that slipped through Liverpool’s fingers last weekend.

So congratulations go to Liverpool’s owners for halting their plans to inflate ticket prices at Anfield.

They needed to be brave to back down as they did and they get all our respect for making that move.

A 'well done' also goes to the fans who came up with the highly visible protest that changed the club’s agenda and let’s hope this is a sign of things to come.

Every Premier League club is set for a £140million windfall from the new TV deal next summer, so who on earth came up with the timing of the announcement about a rise in ticket prices?

The people of Liverpool were never going to buy it, not a chance.

A Liverpool supporter protesting the planned ticket price increases

Liverpudlians have never been the type to sit back and ignore an injustice when it is staring them in the face.

They stood up to the Thatcher government when it was at its most hateful in the 1980s, they fought and fought until they got justice for those who died at Hillsborough.

This is what Liverpool folk do. They unite for a common cause and are like a dog with a bone that won’t let go until they get what they want.

What we have witnessed should be the start of a revival of fan power in a sport that has been keen to move on without the common working man in recent years.

My big concern for the future is that we are in the grip of an era where the average age of supporters is rising and young people can no longer afford to go and watch games.

I fell in love with football going to games and watching my heroes playing in the red shirt at Anfield.

Back in those days, my Dad could take me for a minimal fee and my love for football grew from those experiences.

Now, a lot of kids never get a chance to attend Premier League matches and have got used to watching them on TV.

The new ‘customers’ at English football grounds have changed the atmosphere up and down the country, with the quieter corporate folk so different to the raw, passionate supporters of yesteryear.

We all accept that life moves on and times change, but there should still be a place for supporters and their opinions in our game.

So even if we accept that club owners – who appear to be more interested in profits and sponsors than the people in the stands – have hijacked the game, fans still have a role to play.

Of course, we want to see the top players in world football coming to the Premier League, but an £8billion TV deal should be more than enough to fund that kind of investment.

So hopefully more clubs look at what has happened at Liverpool and start to embrace the idea that they should work with their fans to move the game forward.

Let’s look to the German model where clubs help to pay for fans to travel to away matches and try to find a way to keep the people who love it the most fully involved.