19 April ~ New owners, new manager, new strikers – optimism has returned to Liverpool FC. Appropriate timing, then, for the club’s “season ticket waiting list project”. Earlier this month Liverpool wrote to the top 25,000 individuals on their existing list, inviting them to reaffirm their wish to be offered any season ticket that should become available. At first look the drive appears a sound idea, enabling the club to tell more accurately how many of those 25,000, some of whom joined over seven years ago, are still willing to take up an offer.
With plans to either upgrade and expand Anfield or, less likely, revive the scheme for a new stadium in Stanley Park, it's also useful for the club to know just how much extra capacity they realistically require – certainly more than their current 45,000.
The Boston Red Sox baseball franchise, also owned by the John Henry-fronted Fenway Sports Group, have a significant season ticket waiting list (7,000 names) for their Fenway Park home. And while the Liverpool list predates the group’s involvement with the club, it may not be a coincidence that his “project” has been unveiled now.
It costs £5 to join the list – a non-refundable fee which could earn the club £125,000. Arsenal’s, by comparison, costs £15 to join but is refunded when a season ticket is purchased. Manchester United, meanwhile, are operating a free list for next season and have been cold calling fans to try to sell some pricier season tickets for the lesser seats in the stadium. Certainly, such lists are not free to administer as they require staff hours and IT capability, and a fee does provide more of a guarantee that a season ticket will ultimately be purchased by the person to whom the offer is made. But the club already enjoys significant benefit from the list without needing to squeeze a bit more cash from their fans.
The exercise will not introduce Liverpool to any supporters whose contact details they don’t already have. However it will enable them to categorise rejoining individuals as being among their more affluent supporters, and a target for more aggressive marketing of merchandise and credit cards. There is nothing to stop Liverpool opening up their list at a later date to other new (paying) applicants, before introducing an annual fee just to stay in the queue. “Football clubs are shamelessly greedy bastards,” says alternative consumer website Bitter Wallet. And who could argue? Tom Whitworth