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OPINION: The Irish Fans Supporting The Walk-Out At Anfield Are Hypocrites

OPINION: The Irish Fans Supporting The Walk-Out At Anfield Are Hypocrites
By Gavin Cooney Updated

Earlier today we posted about this Dublin man ranting about Liverpool's ticket prices.

It is an explicit diatribe venting frustration that Liverpool's future £77 ticket for the Main Stand was an outrageous price to charge to watch Jordan Henderson and James Milner.

We discussed the rant on today's edition of our daily sports podcast The Racket:

The video follows the mass walkout of around 10,000 Liverpool fans in protest at the new pricing structure.

You can watch the clip here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibFxW5awBow

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The Dublin fan points out around fifty seconds into the video that the increase in ticket prices affect locals to a far greater extent than it affects him. It is a somewhat fair point.

But there's a problem with this stance: it is entirely hypocritical.

The Irish fan is partly to blame for the increase in ticket prices.

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The willingness of an Irish fan - or any fan from overseas for that matter - to pay for a match ticket along with flights and a hotel a couple of times a year drives up ticket prices, helping to price locals out.

If any business can see a bulk of customers willing to pay more for a product, they will increase the price of the product. It is fairly abhorrent jargon to apply to football, but it is true.

It is a debate which questions the fundamental nature of football: is it sport or entertainment?

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This debate kicked off among some of our readers beneath the line of the original post:

While football is often entertaining, it is not solely entertainment. If it were, games would not end 0-0: the goals would be larger and Simon Mignolet would be more popular.

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It is about something much more: passion veering towards the irrational along with the importance of representation one's local area. As activist supporters remind us: football without fans is nothing.

To further contaminate the game in the crass corporate speak above, the 'product' on the television is not worth watching without the atmosphere generated by supporters.

And as a result, local fans are the most important. It is the local fans who are closest to the club and those who go every week and cultivate an intimidating atmosphere.

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This is an excerpt from an excellent piece by Tony Barrett for The Anfield Wrap website:

Match-going culture is not developed by going to one or two games a year; it grows out of repeated attendance, through regularly congregating with like-minded individuals and becoming comfortable enough in your environment to feel that your support makes a difference to the team.

As passionate as Irish fans are for Premier League clubs - I am not for one minute disputing this and reducing this to a 'you should your local club you unpatriotic glory hunter' debate, and I have written about my own passion for Liverpool here -  it is not as strong as affinity as locals have for their club. Liverpool and Everton's dominance of the 1980s gave breath to a city subdued by Margret Thatcher.

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To give an anecdotal example: I would prefer to see Liverpool lose to Everton than Manchester United. Were I from Liverpool and facing the prospect of Everton supporters at work the next morning, I would imagine the ordering of those clubs changing.

In a much more serious sense, the Hillsborough tragedy affects fans in the city of Liverpool to a much greater extent than those abroad. Once again this is not to suggest in any way that Irish Reds are ignorant of the appalling tragedy or care less: the wonderful fundraising efforts of supporter groups based in Ireland is testament to the contrary.

It is a horrible contradiction for the Irish fans whose passion is authentic and who can only afford to go a few times a season: their love of the club is being used by the club as an excuse to drive up ticket prices, and alienate local fans.

I fully support the walking out of Anfield by supporters in a protest against ticket structures. I support it partly because I consider myself one of them, yet, in reality, I'm not. I have gone to - and will continue to go - to Anfield to be complicit in an occasionally dazzling atmosphere. Yet, while the owners remain as greedy as they are, my willingness to pay is part of the reason that atmosphere is being destroyed.

Whilst football owners remain as greedy as they are, the reluctant hypocrisy of Irish Premier League fans will go on.

See Also: OPINION: Why Fans Recording Matches On Their Phone Is Everything That’s Wrong With Football

 

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